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Digital Dangers

We live in a digital world. Even if our careers don’t include the everyday use of computers (which is unlikely), the information of our lives is being stored on a server somewhere – you can count on it! For most of us, computer usage is not optional. With the increased dependency on our computers and their resident software programs, and the critical position of email communication, we simply cannot afford to overlook the dangers of this digital world.

Let’s look at some top concerns:

Identity Theft

Most of us have either been a victim of identity theft, or we personally know someone who has. Identity theft is the number one revenue generator for organized crime and in the USA alone, an identity is stolen every 3 seconds. You do the math.

Primarily, our identity is stolen via our credit card info, Social Security number, medical records, and driver’s license info, although there are other methods as well.

There are many good products that can be purchased for a small monthly fee to help protect our identities. Just do a Google search on “How to Avoid Identity Theft” and you’ll see some good choices. It’s a wise investment.

Viruses

As recently as last week, I inadvertently opened an email attachment that contained a virus; I had to call in an expert to help clean up the mess. And I know better! A virus is defined as a “program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge, and runs itself and has the ability to replicate itself.” Malware, spyware, adware, worms, Trojan horses…they’re all first cousins and wear a wide variety of masks, some easier to detect than others. It’s essential that you have anti-virus software running in the background with current virus definitions. NEVER open attachments from unknown sources and just be on the alert for anything suspicious. Ask your local computer technician or an expert which programs are recommended. Some are free and do a pretty good job. I personally use a paid version of Malwarebytes, but there is a great free version that I recently wrote about a few days ago in my blog post on “More Freebies…”

SPAM

It’s not canned meat! It’s simply electronic junk mail. I learned recently that only about 12% of emails received are legitimate and welcome. Whatever email program you use (such as Microsoft Outlook), make sure you’ve set up your junk filters to help you. However, don’t depend on these filters to always be right; I’ve had to fish a lot of email out of the junk folder that went there by mistake. Just right-click on the email and change the status to “Add this sender to the Safe Sender list.” That should be enough to keep future good emails from a trusted sender out of the junk folder.

Again, just use some common sense and don’t sign up for everything you see on the internet by giving out your email address. If you simply can’t help yourself, get a special email account with Gmail or Yahoo, just for the express purpose of your “surf and sign up” habit.

Tomorrow I’m going to write about the three kinds of backup/data protection.