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Computer / Internet / Web-Surfing
Security Precautions

Following are some suggestions to help you protect yourself from the security risks that are inherent in using a computer.  Today, we store so much personal and confidential information on our computers that it is vital to do whatever we can to protect that information from identity thieves.

Windows XP  -  If you are using Windows XP, take advantage of the added security features by creating multiple "users."   By making securitycntr_120x240_animated sure that your hard drives are converted to the NTFS file system and marking folders as "private" or "shared," you can help prevent access to your personal information.

Even if you are the only person using your computer, you should setup at least three different "users":

1. "Administrator" = only used when installing new software, adding other users, etc.
2. "Your Name" = used to do your normal work, store any personal information, etc.
3. "Your Name - Web" = used for web-surfing and downloading files.

By using these three separate users, you can help isolate any viruses that you may have downloaded.  You also make it more difficult for hackers to access your confidential data, since your more important files are inaccessible to the "Web" user.

Firewalls  -  Use a Firewall to help prevent unauthorized access to your computer via the internet.   Especially if you have an "always on" internet connection such as broadband or DSL.   Download the best firewall Stop viruses, hackers, spam, popups and more A network router acts as a hardware firewall which prevents unauthorized incoming access to your computer.   However, this won't prevent certain trojan horse viruses and spyware programs from making an outgoing internet connection.   Since these programs have initiated the connection from your computer, a hardware firewall will not prevent any incoming access that was requested by these programs.   That's why it is so important to install a software firewall such as ZoneAlarm by ZoneLabs.   These programs will alert you whenever a program tries to access the internet.   You can then choose to allow or deny the access on a one-time or permanent basis.

Virus Scanner  -  At this point, most computers that are sold include some type of virus scanning software.  If yours doesn't, be sure to install one immediately.  New viruses are created daily and can spread in a matter of minutes or hours.   If your software requires you to update its virus database, be sure to do that daily.   Even better: use a virus scanner that updates itself automatically so you don't have to think about it.
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Anti-Spyware Software  -  If this doesn't get your attention, chances are, nothing will.   A class of programs that you need to be cautious of is "spyware."   These programs reside on your computer Get SpyWare Killer direct from! Stop spyware, adware and popups and can monitor everything... from keystrokes to the websites you visit.   Sometimes these programs are authorized by you. For example, some internet service providers monitor your web activity to tailor advertising specific to you and your interests.   Other times, however, these programs are unauthorized viruses that collect personal information such as social security and credit card numbers from your hard drive.   This information is then transmitted via the internet to wherever the spyware developer chooses.   That's why it is very important to install an "Anti-Spyware" program that can alert you if one of these programs is active on your computer.

Virtual "Shredding"   -   You should already have a paper shredder to safeguard your confidential information.   Delete Files Permanently But, it is just as important to ensure that the data you delete on your computer is destroyed as well.   Many people don't realize that just because you "delete" a file on your computer, it doesn't mean that it is permanently gone.   In most cases, this deleted information can be retrieved quite easily.   This ability to "un-delete" is nice if you accidentally delete the wrong file.   However, in today's security environment, you will have to sacrifice a bit of convenience for additional security.   If you have sensitive, confidential, or personal information on your computer, don't just delete it.   Make sure it is "wiped" from your hard drive so nobody can access it.

Web Browsers   -   Unfortunately, one of the disadvantages of being a software provider is that you become a target for hackers.   The more popular a program becomes, the more of a target it becomes.   Since Microsoft is the largest software provider in the world, its products are the most hacked and exploited by viruses.   Although Microsoft tries to stay one step ahead of the hackers, there are so many people trying to find "exploits" (programming bugs or anomalies that allow hackers to affect the operation of the program) that they are always a step behind. One way to add another layer of "security" while web-surfing is to use "less popular" Web Browsers such as Opera or Firefox.   Of course, no program is 100% secure, but every little bit helps.


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Tip of the Day
If you receive pre-screened credit card offers in the mail, but don't shred them after you decide you don't want to accept the offer, identity thieves could retrieve the offers for their own use without your knowledge. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) to opt out of receiving these pre-screened credit card offers. The three major credit bureaus use the same toll-free number to let consumers choose to not receive pre-screened credit offers.
Today's Story
"My purse was stolen in December 1990. In February 1991, I started getting notices of bounced checks. About a year later, I received information that someone using my identity had defaulted on a number of lease agreements and bought a car. In 1997, I learned that someone had been working under my Social Security number for a number of years. A man had been arrested and used my SSN on his arrest sheet. There's a hit in the FBI computers for my SSN with a different name and gender. I can't get credit because of this situation. I was denied a mortgage loan, employment, credit cards, and medical care for my children. I've even had auto insurance denied, medical insurance and tuition assistance denied." - From a consumer complaint to the FTC, January 2, 2001
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