Are you a safe cyber
The stakes are high if you're not.
Every time you buy stuff
online, do your banking or pay bills over the Internet, check in with your
office by e-mail or just surf the Web for fun, you open a gateway to the
personal information on your computer-including credit-card numbers, bank
balances and more. You may also be in for costly computer repairs and lost
data, due to damaging computer viruses that can invade your computer through
Fortunately, there are
steps you can take to protect your computer, your information and your peace of
mind from computer creeps who try to slow down a network operation, or worse
yet, steal personal information to commit a crime. Here are some tips to help
you, from the security experts:
- Make sure
your passwords have both letters and numbers, and are at least eight
characters long. Avoid common words: some hackers use programs that can
try every word in the dictionary. Don't use your personal information,
your login name or adjacent keys on the keyboard as passwords-and don't
share your passwords online or over the phone.
yourself from viruses by installing anti-virus software and updating it
regularly. You can download anti-virus software from the Web sites of
software companies, or buy it in retail stores; the best recognize old and
new viruses and update automatically. SureNet's Email Virus
Scanning updates several times a day for the best protection of your
unauthorized access to your computer through firewall software or
hardware, especially if you are a high-speed user. A properly configured
firewall makes it tougher for hackers to locate your computer. Firewalls
are also designed to prevent hackers from getting into your programs and
files. Some recently released operating system software and some hardware
devices come with a built-in firewall. Some firewalls block outgoing
information as well as incoming files. That stops hackers from planting
programs called spyware that cause your computer to send out your personal
information without your approval.
open a file attached to an e-mail unless you are expecting it or know what
it contains. If you send an attachment, type a message explaining what it
is. Never forward any e-mail warning about a new virus. It may be a hoax
and could be used to spread a virus.
Types of Security Threats:
Programs that secretly gather personal information through the Internet and
relay it back to another computer, generally for advertising purposes. This is
often accomplished by tracking information related to Internet browser usage or
habits. Adware can be downloaded from Web sites (typically in shareware or
freeware), email messages, and instant messengers. A user may unknowingly
trigger adware by accepting an End User License Agreement from a software
program linked to the adware.
Programs that use a system, without your permission or knowledge, to dial out
through the Internet to a 900 number or FTP site, typically to accrue charges.
Tools used by a hacker to gain unauthorized access to your computer. One
example of a hack tool is a keystroke logger -- a program that tracks and
records individual keystrokes and can send this information back to the hacker.
Usually an email that gets mailed in chain letter fashion describing some
devastating, highly unlikely type of virus. Hoaxes are detectable as having no
file attachment, no reference to a third party who can validate the claim, and
by the general tone of the message.
Programs that change or interrupt the normal behavior of your computer,
creating a general distraction or nuisance. Harmless programs that cause
various benign activities to display on your computer (for example, an
unexpected screen saver).
Programs that allow another computer to gain information or to attack or alter
your computer, usually over the Internet. Remote access programs detected in
virus scans may be recognizable commercial software, which are brought to the
user's attention during the scan.
Stand-alone programs that can secretly monitor system activity. These may
detect passwords or other confidential information and transmit them to another
computer. Spyware can be downloaded from Web sites (typically in shareware or
freeware), email messages, and instant messengers. A user may unknowingly
trigger spyware by accepting an End User License Agreement from a software
program linked to the spyware.
A program that neither replicates nor copies itself, but causes damage or
compromises the security of the computer. Typically, an individual emails a
Trojan Horse to you-it does not email itself-and it may arrive in the form of a
joke program or software of some sort.
A program or code that replicates; that is, infects another program, boot
sector, partition sector, or document that supports macros, by inserting itself
or attaching itself to that medium. Most viruses only replicate, though, many
do a large amount of damage as well.
A program that makes copies of itself; for example, from one disk drive to
another, or by copying itself using email or another transport mechanism. The
worm may do damage and compromise the security of the computer. It may arrive
in the form of a joke program or software of some sort.
private information private
Smart surfers don't disclose personal information unless they know who's
collecting it, why, and how it's going to be used. And they never disclose
- Get to
know online merchants
Be cautious of a company that claims to have a secret connection overseas
or doesn't allow e-mail replies.
Claims like "you can earn over $50,000 a month" or "lose
weight without dieting" suggest a scam. Be wary of any company that
makes a product or performance claim that's unlikely - or just plain hard
sure it's secure
If you buy something on the Internet and need to give your credit card
number, verify the online security or encryption before you do business.
Online, anyone can be anyone, anywhere. Because it's easy to fake e-mail
addresses, be mindful of who you're listening to or talking with before
you give out personal information.
the .exe files
Secret programs may exist in files you download - especially .exe
These files could ruin your hard drive, hijack your modem, or collect
information about you without your knowledge. Install a virus protection
program before you go online.
Inexpensive "filtering" software programs help make sure your
family members are protected from sites that may not be age - or interest
Most Canadians who use the
Internet from home access it through a "dial-up connection"
that uses a modem to call in to a server over a regular telephone line. A
dial-up connection to the Internet may be slower than a broadband connection,
but there's one thing they share: they both depend on the user to keep them
operating safely and securely.
If your computer is
attacked by a virus or a hacker, it really doesn't matter what type of
connection you use: the damage is done. You could lose important personal
information or software that's stored on your hard drive, as well as valuable
time trying to make repairs. And your computer could be used without your
knowledge to attack other computers, including those that protect our national
If you use a dial-up
connection, a few "do it now" tips can help you minimize - and
perhaps even avoid altogether - the damage that a virus or hacker can wreak on
1. Use anti-virus
software. A virus
is software that is planted in your computer to damage files and disrupt your
system. Most viruses enter a computer hidden in a seemingly innocent program,
often as an attachment to an email. Then the software code attached to the
program produces copies of itself and inserts the copied code into other
programs. A virus can result in lost data or require costly repairs to your
system. You can avoid these risks by installing and using software that scans
your computer and your incoming email for viruses, and then deletes them.
SureNet Email Virus Scanning will delete virues sent by email before they hit
You can download anti-virus
software from the web sites of software companies or buy it in retail stores.
Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current viruses, as well as older
ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and that updates automatically.
2. Regularly update
To be effective, anti-virus software must be updated routinely with antidotes
to the latest "bugs" circulating through the Internet. Most
commercial anti-virus software includes a feature to download updates
automatically when you are on the Internet.
3. Don't fall for a
fibbing email. Most
viruses won't damage your computer unless you open the email attachment that
includes the virus. So hackers - people who use the Internet to access computers
without permission - often lie to get you to open the attachments. The email
may appear to come from a friend or colleague, or it may have an appealing file
name, like "Fwd: FUNNY TEXT" or "As per your request!" It
could appear to link to a web site or promise to clean a virus off your
computer if you open it. Don't open an email attachment - even if it looks like
it's from a friend or coworker - unless you are expecting it or know what it
contains. If you send an email with an attached file, include a text message
explaining what it is.
In addition, don't forward
any email warning about a new virus. It may be a hoax and could be used to
spread a virus. If you receive a chain letter or hoax virus alert, let the
sender know so they can stop spreading the virus.
4. Use strong passwords. Hackers may try to steal your
passwords to gain access to the personal information stored on your computer.
To make it tougher for them, use passwords that have at least eight characters
and include numbers or symbols. Avoid common words: Some hackers use programs
that can try every word in the dictionary. Don't use your personal information,
your login name or adjacent keys on the keyboard as passwords. Don't share your
passwords online or over the phone.
5. Take advantage of
your software's security features. Chances are your web browser and operating system software
give you some options for increasing your online security. Check the
"Tools" or "Options" menus for built-in security features.
You probably have several choices for what types of files you want to accept
from other computers. If you don't understand your choices, check them out
using your "Help" function.
Similarly, your email
software may give you the ability to filter certain types of messages, such as
some unsolicited bulk email, or spam. But it's up to you to activate the
6. Back up important
files. If you
follow these tips, you'll reduce the chances of falling victim to a hacker or
virus. But no system is completely secure. If you have important files stored
on your computer, copy them onto a removable disk, and store them in a safe
7. If your computer is
infected, take action immediately. If your computer has been hacked or infected by a virus,
disconnect from the Internet right away. Then scan your entire computer with
fully updated anti-virus software. Before you reconnect to the Internet, think
about how your computer could have been accessed and what you could have done
to avoid it. Did you open an email attachment and let loose a virus? Is your
anti-virus software out-of-date? Take steps to minimize the chances of it
8. If you have
particularly sensitive information stored on your computer or you're planning
to upgrade to high-speed Internet access:
Install a firewall. A firewall is software or hardware designed to block
hackers from accessing your computer. A properly configured firewall makes it
tougher for hackers to locate your computer and get into your programs and
files. A firewall is different from anti-virus protection: Anti-virus software
scans your incoming communications and files for troublesome files; a firewall
helps make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from
Turn off software features that you don't use. You may want to turn
"off" some software features - instant messaging, printer-sharing or
file-sharing - that typically are "on" when a computer is shipped..
Because these programs facilitate the passing of information between computers,
they are an excellent entry point for hackers.
When Your Computer Makes
A Call...Without Your Okay
If you use the Internet,
you're probably dialing a local phone number to get online. Chances are you
know exactly what you pay for that local service. However, many consumers are
surprised to find they've been charged for calls to destinations that aren't
remotely local, simply remote. The calls were made through their
modems without their knowledge or approval.
How does it happen? Most
often, it's a scheme some Web sites use to trick consumers into paying to
access "free" Internet content. Some sites claim to be
"free" or advertise that "no credit card is needed," then
prompt the user to download a "viewer" or "dialer" program.
Here's the catch: Once the program is downloaded to the user's computer, it
disconnects from the Internet and reconnects using another phone number - a
domestic long distance, international or 900 number - at rates between $2 and
$7 a minute - or more!
These scams, which are
typically associated with adult sites, don't require a credit card number for
access. That means they're available to children, who can click onto them
without their parents' knowledge or permission. Even if parents disable
international calling from their phone lines, many modem dialers are programmed
to circumvent the "block," and initiate international calls using a
"10-10 dial-around" prefix.
Here's how you can
minimize your chances of finding surprise charges on your phone bill:
a dedicated phone line for your computer and restrict it to local calls.
attention to any program that enables your modem to re-dial to the
Internet. If you see a dialog box on your computer indicating that it's
dialing when you didn't direct it to, cancel the connection and hang up.
Check the number you're dialing and continue only if it's a local call..
- Make sure
your modem makes an audible noise when dialing a phone number - so you can
hear that a new connection is being made.
any dialer programs that have been downloaded onto your computer.
online disclosures carefully. They may be buried several clicks away in
pages of small print. In addition, read the language in the typical gray
boxes on your screen. Don't click on "OK" unless you know
exactly what you're agreeing to. Click the X to close a window,
never click NO.
- If in the
past you used a modem to dial up the Internet and now you use a high-speed
DSL or cable connection, disconnect the phone line from your computer. You
don't need it to access the Internet any more, and it could leave you
vulnerable to a dialer program.
- You may
want to install a firewall, especially if you use a high-speed Internet
connection. A firewall is software or hardware designed to block hackers
from accessing your computer. You also might consider increasing the
security settings on the operating system software on your computer.
- Talk to
your children. Explain that they could be targets of international modem
dialing scams and tell them the consequences of downloading
"viewer" or "dialer" programs on the computer.
your children's Internet use. Keep track of the Web sites your children
visit by checking the Web browser history files and cache.
- Be skeptical
when surfing the Web especially when you see claims like "free"
or "no credit card needed" in exchange for a product or service.
the charges with the company doing the billing.
- Save the bill. If you think
you've been a victim of unauthorized modem dialing, it may help identify
the scammers when you report the incident
you listen to the news, you've probably heard about hackers and viruses. But
unless your computer has been targeted by one, you may not know how they could
affect you. If your computer is attacked by a hacker or virus, you could lose
important personal information or software stored on your hard drive. You also
could lose valuable time while you try to repair the damage. Without your
knowledge, your computer could even be used to attack other computers,
including those that protect our national security.
best protection against hackers and viruses is your personal commitment to
online safety. If you use a high-speed connection to access the Internet, you
can take precautions to better protect your time, the information on your
computer and the security of our nation's computer networks.
is high-speed Internet access?
Most Canadians who use the Internet from home connect to it through a
"dial-up connection" using a modem to call into a server over a
regular telephone line. SureNet along with other provider offer high-speed
Internet access - also known as broadband access - usually through a DSL
connection (a digital subscriber line) or a cable modem.
Internet access can cost more than a dial-up connection, but an increasing
number of consumers choose it because:
- it is faster than a dial-up connection, which reduces
the time you spend waiting for web pages to load and lets your computer
- it can connect your computer to the Internet with no
dialing and no busy signals.
- it lets you make and receive voice calls over your
phone line while you're connected to the Internet. That's because DSL
technology can handle data and voice on a single phone line at the same
time and cable technology uses a separate wire from the telephone.
are the risks?
Along with their benefits, high-speed Internet connections can be an inviting
target for hackers and computer viruses. A hacker is a person who uses the
Internet to access computers without permission. A virus is software that is
planted in your computer to damage files and disrupt your system.
you connect to the Internet, you are identified by an Internet Protocol (IP)
address - a string of numbers that identifies your machine. If you use a
dial-up connection, your IP address changes every time you log on. Some
high-speed connection users' IP addresses may remain fixed, making it easier
for a hacker to access their computers repeatedly.
reason a hacker might want to access your computer is to steal the personal
information stored on it. A hacker could use that information to commit
identity theft. Hackers who discover your credit card numbers, Social Security
number or bank account numbers may use the information to run up charges in
your name. Or they may sell the information to other identity thieves.
DSL or cable modem stays connected to the Internet unless you turn off the
computer or disconnect your Internet service. These "always on"
connections can make a computer vulnerable to attack any time. Unless you take
a few precautions, hackers can leave a virus or other software code on your
computer that could be released later.
technique has been behind distributed denial-of-service attacks. That's when
hackers spread a virus that tells many individual computers to send messages
simultaneously to the same server. The flood of messages can overload the
system at, say, a bank, a government agency or another web site. The systems
then become swamped processing useless information or crash altogether.
you use a high-speed connection to access the Internet, here are 10 tips that
can enhance your protection against hackers and viruses, and help you stay safe
Use anti-virus software.
Most viruses enter a computer hidden in a seemingly innocent program, often as
an attachment to an email. Then the virus software code attached to the program
produces copies of itself and inserts the copied code into other programs. A
virus can result in lost data or require costly repairs to your system. You can
avoid these risks by installing and using software that scans your computer and
your incoming email for viruses, and then deletes them.
can download anti-virus software from the web sites of software companies or
buy it in retail stores. Look for anti-virus software that recognizes current
viruses, as well as older ones; that can effectively reverse the damage; and
that updates automatically.
Regularly update anti-virus software.
To be effective, anti-virus software must be updated routinely with antidotes
to the latest "bugs" circulating through the Internet. Most commercial
anti-virus software includes a feature to download updates automatically when
you are on the Internet.
Install a firewall.
A firewall is software or hardware designed to block hackers from accessing
your computer. A properly configured firewall masks your IP address, making it
tougher for hackers to locate your computer. Firewalls are designed to prevent
hackers from getting into your programs and files.
firewall is different from anti-virus protection: Anti-virus software scans
your incoming communications and files for troublesome files; a firewall helps
make you invisible on the Internet and blocks all communications from
recently-released operating system software and some hardware devices come with
a built-in firewall. It may be shipped in the "off" mode. Make sure
you turn it on and set it up properly. Check your on-line "Help"
feature for specifics. If your operating system doesn't include a firewall, buy
a separate software firewall that runs in the background while you work, or
install a hardware firewall - an external device that includes firewall
software. Like anti-virus software, a firewall needs to be updated regularly to
firewalls block outgoing information as well as incoming files. That stops
hackers from planting programs - called spyware - that cause your computer to
send out your personal information without your approval.
Don't fall for a fibbing email.
Most viruses won't damage your computer unless you open the email attachment
that includes the virus. So hackers often lie to get you to open the
attachments. The email may appear to come from a friend or colleague, or it may
have an appealing file name, like "Fwd: FUNNY TEXT" or "As per
your request!" It could appear to link to a web site or promise to clean a
virus off your computer if you open it. Don't open an email attachment - even
if it appears to be from a friend or coworker - unless you are expecting it or
know what it contains. If you send an email with an attached file, include a
text message explaining what it is.
addition, don't forward any email warning about a new virus. It may be a hoax
and could be used to spread a virus. If you receive a chain letter or hoax
virus alert, let the sender know so they can stop spreading the virus.
If your computer is infected, take action immediately.
If your computer has been hacked or infected by a virus, immediately unplug the
phone or cable line from your machine. Then scan your entire computer with
fully updated anti-virus software and update your firewall.
you reconnect to the Internet, think about how your computer could have been
accessed and what you could have done to avoid it. Did you open an email
attachment and let loose a virus? Did a hacker bypass your outdated firewall?
Take steps to minimize the chances of it happening again.
Use strong passwords.
Hackers may try to steal your passwords to gain access to the personal
information stored on your computer. To make it tougher for them, use passwords
that have at least eight characters and include numerals or symbols. Avoid
common words: some hackers use programs that can try every word in the
dictionary. Don't use your personal information, your login name or adjacent
keys on the keyboard as passwords. Don't share your passwords online or over
Take advantage of your software's security features.
Chances are your web browser and operating system software give you some
options for increasing your online security. Check the "Tools" or
"Options" menus for built-in security features. You probably have
several choices for what types of files you want to accept from other
computers. If you don't understand your choices, check them out using your
your email software may give you the ability to filter certain types of
messages, such as some unsolicited bulk email, or spam. But it's up to you to
activate the filter.
Turn off software features that you don't use.
You may want to turn "off" some software features - instant
messaging, printer-sharing or file-sharing - that typically are "on"
when a computer is shipped. File-sharing allows several computers (connected
through a network) to use the same file at the same time. Because it
facilitates the passing of information between computers, this feature is an
excellent point of entry for hackers. A firewall won't block files sent to you
this way. If you're not on a network, turn the file-sharing feature "off."
Your operating system's "Help" feature will show you how.
software feature that could leave you exposed to a virus is an email preview
pane that lets you view attachments automatically. The preview pane could allow
a virus to be launched even if you never click on the attachment.
if you're not using your computer for an extended period, you can turn it off
or unplug it from the phone or cable line. When it's off, the computer doesn't
send or receive information from the Internet and isn't vulnerable to hackers.
9. Back up important files.
If you follow these tips, you'll reduce the chances of falling victim to a
hacker or virus. But no system is completely secure. If you have important
files stored on your computer, copy them onto a removable disc, and store them
in a safe place.
scammers casting about for people's financial information have a new way to
lure unsuspecting victims: They go "phishing". Phishing, also called
"carding," is a high-tech scam that uses spam to deceive consumers
into disclosing their credit card numbers, bank account information, Social
Security numbers, passwords, and other sensitive information.
the suspect emails pretend to be from businesses the potential victims deal
with - for example, their Internet service provider (ISP), online payment
service (eg. Paypal) or a bank. The fraudsters tell recipients that they need
to "update" or "validate" their billing information to keep
their accounts active, and direct them to a "look-alike" Web site of
the legitimate business, further tricking consumers into thinking they are
responding to a bona fide request. Unknowingly, consumers submit their
financial information - not to the businesses - but the scammers, who use it to
order goods and services and obtain credit. SureNet only sends out
periodic "SureNet Updates". No un-solicited email asking for your
information is ever sent out by us.
avoid getting caught by one of these scams follow these tips:
you get an email that warns you, with little or no notice, that an account
of yours will be shut down unless you reconfirm your billing information,
do not reply or click on the link in the email. Instead, contact the
company cited in the email using a telephone number or Web site address
you know to be genuine.
emailing personal and financial information. Before submitting financial
information through a Web site, look for the "lock" icon on the
browser's status bar. It signals that your information is secure during
- Review credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive
them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your
statement is late by more than a couple of days, call your credit card
company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.
boxes are filling up with more offers for business opportunities than any other
kind of unsolicited commercial email. That's a problem, because many of these
offers are scams. More often than not, bulk email offers appear to be
fraudulent, and if pursued, could rip-off unsuspecting consumers.
are the 12 scams that are most likely to arrive in consumers' email boxes:
1. Business opportunities
opportunities make it sound easy to start a business that will bring lots of
income without much work or cash outlay. The solicitations trumpet unbelievable
earnings claims of $140 a day, $1,000 a day, or more, and claim that the
business doesn't involve selling, meetings, or personal contact with others, or
that someone else will do all the work. Many business opportunity solicitations
claim to offer a way to make money in an Internet-related business. Short on
details but long on promises, these messages usually offer a telephone number
to call for more information. In many cases, you'll be told to leave your name
and telephone number so that a salesperson can call you back with the sales pitch.
scam: Many of these are illegal pyramid schemes masquerading as legitimate
opportunities to earn money.
2. Bulk email
solicitations offer to sell you lists of email addresses, by the millions, to
which you can send your own bulk solicitations. Some offer software that
automates the sending of email messages to thousands or millions of recipients.
Others offer the service of sending bulk email solicitations on your behalf..
Some of these offers say, or imply, that you can make a lot of money using this
problem: Sending bulk email violates the terms of service with SureNet and most
other Internet service providers. If you use one of the automated email
programs, you may shut you down. In addition, inserting a false return address
into your solicitations, as some of the automated programs allow you to do, may
land you in legal hot water with the owner of the address's domain name.
Several governments have laws regulating the sending of unsolicited commercial
email, which you may unwittingly violate by sending bulk email. Few legitimate
businesses, if any, engage in bulk email marketing for fear of offending
3. Chain letters
You're asked to
send a small amount of money ($5 to $20) to each of four or five names on a list,
replace one of the names on the list with your own, and then forward the
revised message via bulk email. The letter may claim that the scheme is legal,
that it's been reviewed or approved by the government; or it may refer to
sections of law that legitimize the scheme. Don't believe it.
scam: Chain letters-traditional or high-tech-are almost always illegal, and
nearly all of the people who participate in them lose their money. The fact
that a "product" such as a report on how to make money fast, a
mailing list, or a recipe may be changing hands in the transaction does not
change the legality of these schemes.
4. Work-at-home schemes
solicitations promise steady income for minimal labor-for example, you'll earn
$2 each time you fold a brochure and seal it in an envelope. Craft assembly
work schemes often require an investment of hundreds of dollars in equipment or
supplies, and many hours of your time producing goods for a company that has
promised to buy them.
scam: You'll pay a small fee to get started in the envelope-stuffing business.
Then, you'll learn that the email sender never had real employment to offer..
Instead, you'll get instructions on how to send the same envelope-stuffing ad
in your own bulk emailings. If you earn any money, it will be from others who
fall for the scheme you're perpetuating. And after spending the money and
putting in the time on the craft assembly work, you are likely to find
promoters who refuse to pay you, claiming that your work isn't up to their
5. Health and diet scams
Pills that let
you lose weight without exercising or changing your diet, herbal formulas that
liquefy your fat cells so that they are absorbed by your body, and cures for
impotence and hair loss are among the scams flooding email boxes.
scam: These gimmicks don't work. The fact is that successful weight loss
requires a reduction in calories and an increase in physical activity. Beware
of case histories from "cured" consumers claiming amazing results; testimonials
from "famous" medical experts you've never heard of; claims that the
product is available from only one source or for a limited time; and ads that
use phrases like "scientific breakthrough," "miraculous
cure," "exclusive product," "secret formula," and
6. Effortless income
get-rich-quick schemes offer unlimited profits exchanging money on world
currency markets; newsletters describing a variety of easy-money opportunities;
the perfect sales letter; and the secret to making $4,000 in one day.
scam: If these systems worked, wouldn't everyone be using them? The thought of
easy money may be appealing, but success generally requires hard work.
7. Free goods
messages offer valuable goods-for example, computers, other electronic items,
and long-distance phone cards-for free. You're asked to pay a fee to join a
club, then told that to earn the offered goods, you have to bring in a certain
number of participants. You're paying for the right to earn income by
recruiting other participants, but your payoff is in goods, not money.
scam: Most of these messages are covering up pyramid schemes, operations that
inevitably collapse. Almost all of the payoff goes to the promoters and little
or none to consumers who pay to participate.
8. Investment opportunities
schemes promise outrageously high rates of return with no risk. One version
seeks investors to help form an offshore bank. Others are vague about the
nature of the investment, stressing the rates of return. Many are Ponzi
schemes, in which early investors are paid off with money contributed by later
investors. This makes the early investors believe that the system actually
works, and encourages them to invest even more.
of fraudulent investments often operate a particular scam for a short time,
quickly spend the money they take in, then close down before they can be
detected. Often, they reopen under another name, selling another investment
scam. In their sales pitch, they'll say that they have high-level financial
connections; that they're privy to inside information; that they'll guarantee
the investment; or that they'll buy back the investment after a certain time.
To close the deal, they often serve up phony statistics, misrepresent the
significance of a current event, or stress the unique quality of their
offering-anything to deter you from verifying their story.
scam: Ponzi schemes eventually collapse because there isn't enough money coming
in to continue simulating earnings. Other schemes are a good investment for the
promoters, but no for participants.
9. Cable descrambler kits
For a small sum
of money, you can buy a kit to assemble a cable descrambler that supposedly
allows you to receive cable television transmissions without paying any
scam: The device that you build probably won't work. Most of the cable TV
systems use technology that these devices can't crack. What's more, even if it
worked, stealing service from a cable television company is illegal.
10. Guaranteed loans or credit, on easy terms
messages offer home-equity loans that don't require equity in your home, as
well as solicitations for guaranteed, unsecured credit cards, regardless of
your credit history. Usually, these are said to be offered by offshore banks.
Sometimes they are combined with pyramid schemes, which offer you an
opportunity to make money by attracting new participants to the scheme.
scams: The home equity loans turn out to be useless lists of lenders who will
turn you down if you don't meet their qualifications. The promised credit cards
never come through, and the pyramid money-making schemes always collapse.
11. Credit repair
scams offer to erase accurate negative information from your credit file so you
can qualify for a credit card, auto loan, home mortgage, or a job.
scam: The scam artists who promote these services can't deliver. Only time, a
deliberate effort, and a personal debt repayment plan will improve your credit.
The companies that advertise credit repair services appeal to consumers with
poor credit histories. Not only can't they provide you with a clean credit
record, but they also may be encouraging you to violate federal law. If you
follow their advice you may be committing fraud.
12. Vacation prize promotions
certificates congratulating you on "winning" a fabulous vacation for
a very attractive price are among the scams arriving in your email. Some say
you have been "specially selected" for this opportunity.
The scam: Most unsolicited commercial email goes to
thousands or millions of recipients at a time. Often, the cruise ship you're
booked on may look more like a tug boat. The hotel accommodations likely are
shabby, and you may be required to pay more for an upgrade. Scheduling the
vacation at the time you want it also may require an additional fee.
control protects children from inappropriate web sites, normally those
containing Adult Content. Note that there is no known software that can provide
a 100% guarantee that your children will not be able to access inappropriate
material on the web, some of this material can arrive by other means - for
example email. However, there are steps that you can take to minimize the
chance of "Little Johnny" stumbling upon material that may be
- Talk to your kids and establish the rules. Clearly
they may click on, and what they may not
- Know what you're children are doing! Know when they are
online. Never let small children surf alone!
- You may want to locate your PC in a public area of your
can keep an eye on the monitor
- Only allow children to explore approved sites. Pre-load
site for them
- Explain to your child that if they come across a site
aren't sure about, they should TELL their parents
- Do not let children fill out Internet Forms
- If your children like to "Chat", make sure
they are only doing
so at a "Kid-safe" web site. DON'T CHAT WITH
- Set time limits - Don't allow kids to spend all their
Set a time limit on computer use.
- There a lot of great sites with more
Parental Control Tips
Control Software is user friendly Internet filtering software that protects
your family from objectionable Internet material. Fully customizable, parents
can block sites, monitor activity, and assign user accounts for each family
member. Parental Control Software gives you the ability to control what content
those using your computer can view. Some of these log activity on your
computer, while others prevent sites that meet specific criteria from being
accessed. This may be useful for those who cannot watch over their computer all
the time. Once again, this type of software is NOT 100% fool-proof. You should
only use this type of software in addition to some of the common sense
approaches listed above. Here are a few examples of Parental Control Software:
Parental Control Software:
Parental Control Software:
The Internet is an
exciting tool that puts vast information at your fingertips. With a click of a
mouse, it lets you buy an airline ticket, book a hotel, send flowers to a
friend, or purchase your favorite stock.
convenience, and choice abound on the Internet. But before you use all the
Internet has to offer, be "cyber" smart to make the most of your
Security on the
Shopping online offers lots of benefits that you won't find shopping in a
store or by mail. The Internet is always open – seven days a week, 24
hours a day – and bargains can be numerous online. Shopping on the
Internet is no less safe than shopping in a store or by mail. Keep the following
tips in mind to help ensure that your online shopping experience is a safe one.
· Use a secure browser.
This is the software you use to navigate the
Internet. Your browser should comply with industry security standards, such as
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). These standards scramble the purchase information
you send over the Internet, helping to secure your transaction. Most computers
come with a browser installed. You also can download some browsers for free
over the Internet.
Shop with companies you know. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any
name. If you're not familiar with a merchant, ask for a paper catalog or
brochure to get a better idea of their merchandise and services. Also,
determine the company's refund and return policies before you place your
order. These should be posted on the company's Web site.
Keep your password(s) private. Be creative when you establish a password, and
never give it to anyone. Avoid using a telephone number, birth date or a
portion of your Social Security number. Instead, use a combination of numbers,
letters and symbols.
Pay by credit or charge card. Some companies offer an online shopping guarantee
that ensures you will not be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made
online, and some cards may provide additional warranty, return and/or purchase
Keep a record. Be sure to print a copy of your purchase order and
confirmation number for your records. Also, you should know that the Mail and
Telephone Order Merchandise Rule covers online orders. This means that unless
the company states otherwise, your merchandise must be delivered within 30
days; and if there are delays, the company must notify you.
Pay your bills online. Some companies let you pay bills and check your
account status online. Before you sign up for any service, evaluate how the
company secures your financial and personal information. Many companies explain
their security procedures on their Web site. If you don't see a security
description, call or email the company and ask.
EASY AS ABC
When exploring online, think ABC to remember the privacy and security
questions you should ask about a company.
About me. What information does the company collect
about me and is it secure?
Benefits. How does the company use that information
and what is the benefit to me?
Choices. What choices do I have about the
company's use of information about me? Can I opt-out of having information
used for other purposes, and how?
Privacy on the
Technology now provides companies with the ability to collect information about
you and potentially give or sell that information to others. While the Internet
can serve as a tremendous resource for information, products, and services, you
should be sure to safeguard your privacy online by following these tips.
- Keep personal information
private. Don't disclose
personal information – such as your address, telephone number, Social
Security number, or email address – unless you know who is collecting the
information, why they are collecting it, and how they will use it. If you have
children, teach them to check with you before giving out personal – or
family – information online.
- Look for an online privacy
policy. Many companies post their
privacy policies on their Web site. This policy should disclose what
information is being collected on the Web site and how that information is
being used. Before you provide a company with personal information, check its
message to the Web site to ask about its policy and request that it be posted
on the site.
- Make choices. Many companies give you a choice on their Web site
as to whether and how your personal information is used. These companies allow
you to decline – or "opt-out" of – having personal
information, such as your email address, used for marketing purposes or shared
with other companies. Look for this choice as part of the company's
What is a computer
A computer virus is a program - a piece of executable code - that has the
unique ability to replicate. Like biological viruses, computer viruses can
spread quickly and are often difficult to eradicate. They can attach themselves
to just about any type of file and are spread as files that are copied and sent
from individual to individual.
Besides replication, some computer viruses have something else in common: a
damage routine that can deliver the virus payload. While payloads may only
display messages or images, they can also destroy files, reformat your hard
drive, or cause other kinds of damage. If the virus does not contain a damage
routine, it can still cause trouble by taking up storage space and memory, and
downgrading the overall performance of your computer.
Several years ago most viruses spread primarily via floppy disk, but the
Internet has introduced new virus distribution mechanisms. With email now used
as an important business communication tool, viruses are spreading faster than
ever. Viruses attached to email messages can infect an entire enterprise in a
matter of minutes, costing companies millions of dollars annually in
productivity loss and clean-up expenses.
Most Viruses are written for, and affect Microsoft Windows machines. Generally,
there are three main classes of viruses:
- File infectors. These viruses attach themselves to program
files, usually selected .COM or .EXE files. Some can infect any program
for which execution is requested, including .SYS, .OVL, .PRG, and .MNU
files. When the program is loaded, the virus is loaded as well.
- System or boot-record infectors. These viruses infect executable code found in
certain system areas on a disk. They attach to the DOS boot sector on
diskettes or the Master Boot Record on hard disks. A typical scenario
(familiar to the author) is to receive a diskette from an innocent source
that contains a boot disk virus. When your operating system is running,
files on the diskette can be read without triggering the boot disk virus.
However, if you leave the diskette in the drive, and then turn the
computer off or reload the operating system, the computer will look first
in your A drive, find the diskette with its boot disk virus, load it, and
make it temporarily impossible to use your hard disk. This is why you
should make sure you have a bootable floppy.
- Macro viruses. These are
among the most common viruses, and they tend to do the least damage. Macro
viruses infect your Microsoft Word application and typically insert
unwanted words or phrases.
How to protect yourself against viruses
The best protection against a virus is to know the origin of each program or
file you load into your computer. Since this is difficult, you should install
anti-virus software that typically checks all of your files periodically and
removes any viruses that are found. For additional information, read the virus tips
From time to time, you may get an e-mail message warning of a new virus.
Chances are good that the warning is a virus hoax and contain bogus information
intended only to frighten or confuse users. Please check official antivirus
sites before forwarding such emails. Both Mcafee and Norton websites have a
section on hoaxes.
for Virus Protection
- Purchase a Good, Commercial Antivirus Program Like
Norton Antivirus or Mcafee Virusscan.
Most commercial antivirus programs usually are reasonably inexpensive and can
be purchased at almost any computer store in the world.
- Enroll in SureNet's Email Virus Scanning
service and protect your computer from infected
- Update your Virus Definitions frequently (at least
once a week).
With over 250 new viruses being discovered each week, if you don't update your
definitions frequently you won't be protected from ANY of the new viruses
floating around the Net. How do you update your virus definitions? That depends
on the antivirus program you use, consult your software's documentation.
- Never, ever, double-click (or launch) *ANY* new file,
especially an Email Attachment, regardless of who the File is from, until you
first Scan That File with your Antivirus Program.
This is probably the most important rule of them all. There are currently
hundreds of thousands of viruses out there, and any one of those viruses could
be hiding in an email attachment. Beware of EVERY new file that is attached to
an email message, even if it comes from someone you know.
- Turn on Macro Virus Protection in Microsoft Word, and
Beware of all Word Macros, especially if you don't know what Macros are.
Word Macros are saved sequences of commands or keyboard strokes that can be
stored and then recalled with a single command or keyboard stroke. They enable
advanced Word users to easily accomplish what would otherwise be difficult
tasks. They also allow virus writers to do serious damage to your computer. For
example, the Melissa virus was actually a Word Macro virus. Set up your Virus
software to scan for Macro Virus each time you launch WORD.
- Run Windows Update at least Once a Month
Windows is aptly named because it is full of holes. There are several,
inadvertent 'open doors' (or 'security holes') in the Windows operating system
that *COULD* conceivably make your computer vulnerable to a Virus attack. When
the folks at Microsoft discover a security hole, they immediately release a
software patch to close it. Running "Windows Update" will check for
the availability of these patches as they come along, and offer to install the
These five tips will not protect you from every computer virus, Trojan horse,
or worm, but they will so significantly decrease your computer's chances of
becoming infected that you can all but forget about the next virus scare and
all the ones that will follow.
What are Email
Virus / Worms?
Unlike an attached file that the
user must execute, email viruses are actually embedded within the email itself.
Attachments may also be involved and these attachments will automatically
execute when the user reads, or, in certain cases, previews the email. Thus,
email viruses differ from email-borne viruses, the latter which require
users actually open the attachment in order to become infected. Historically,
email viruses have targeted Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express users, though
theoretically other mail clients could pose a risk. In any event, if an
attachment is involved, the user can still choose to open it and become
infected, as was the case with BadTrans.B
Sircam, and most
recently, the destructive Klez Internet Worm
For this reason, it is equally important to understand both how to prevent
attachments from being automatically executed by the mail client and how to
recognize potentially harmful attachment types.
How do I prevent
Rule 1: Identification: Understanding the nature of the attachment is the
first step towards email safety. Any executable type attachment has the
potential to be infected. This covers a wide range of extensions, however most
viruses arrive as an attachment with a .exe, .bat, .scr, .com,
.lnk or .pif file extension.
Rule 2: Intent: An executable type attachment should not be opened
unless it was specifically requested or expected. Since email worms are sent to
addresses found on infected users' machines, just knowing the sender is no
proof of intent. In fact, odds are an email worm will arrive from someone you
know and the sender is oblivious to the viral email being sent from their
machine. If you receive such an email from someone you know, email that person
and ask if they intended to send you the attachment. If you don't know the
sender, stifle your curiosity and delete the email.
Rule 3: Necessity: This is the simplest rule to follow, but one that
many people ignore. If you do not need the attachment, don't open it. Delete
the email instead.
Rule 4: Disable scripting: To date, email viruses have taken advantage of
security vulnerabilities found in Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express.
However, any mail client that supports HTML and scripting should be considered
Rule 5: Patch your system: Microsoft routinely releases approximately 100
security patches per year. Keeping abreast of these and understanding which are
applicable to your system can be a daunting task. Microsoft simplifies this by
providing a Windows
update site. The site will automatically scan your system and provide a
list of recommended updates specific to your operating system. Any included in
the "Critical Updates" section should be installed. Of course,
security is an ongoing process as new vulnerabilities are constantly
discovered. You should make it a point to pay periodic visits to the update
site to ensure necessary patches are in place.
If you require professional assistance eradicating potentially destructive
viruses from your system, simply call tech support at 705-788-7873 or
1-866-700-1977 and make an appointment to bring your computer in to SureNet.
For a modest fee, we will run a scan and rid your machine of all virus and spyware