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Protecting Internet Privacy
by Paul

The Internet and all its benefits have become an inseparable part of our life.  It’s hard for me to imagine a day when I don’t connect to the Internet for at least three or four times.  I connect daily to the World Wide Web to check my e-mails, to read or watch the latest news, to get the answer to an important question, to chat with friends and colleagues, to check for driving directions, or to learn more about an interesting topic.  The use and application of the Internet is endless.

Despite the Internet’s tremendous contribution toward enriching our lives in so many ways, the Web also presents opportunities for others to get hold of our personal and private information.

While connected to the Internet, it’s important to be cautious in at least two ways – protect any private details or personal information stored on your computer, and be careful with whom you share any personal data about yourself or about your family. Your personal and private information includes items such as your name, age, address, hobbies, banking details, education, job, and family details.

If someone, such as a computer-hacker, gets access to your computer through the Internet, then stored information on your computer becomes available to someone else.  Stored private details about you could then be used for the advantage of a person other than yourself.

Another way to get details about you through the Internet is to simply ask you for the information.  For example, you may get an e-mail asking you to respond with facts about yourself or about your family.  As well, you’re often asked for details about yourself when completing an online form or application, or when registering to a website or a blog.  Be extremely careful with any personal information that you exchange or provide online.

You can take steps not only to protect personal data on your computer, but also to help you practice caution if, or when, you give out personal details online.  The following are some common protective measures:

-  Install on your computer a firewall, and an anti-virus and anti-spyware software.  Keep all these updated.

-  Keep your computer’s operating system updated.

-  Set up a password to access your computer and passwords to open its files and programs.

-  Store any personal information on your computer in a private location in the computer’s memory.

-  Only share your e-mail address with those you know and trust.

-  Avoid opening an e-mail if you don’t recognize the sender.

-  Always check when an e-mail was sent before opening it.  Be cautious of e-mails that were sent at unexpected or unusual times, even though you may recognize the sender.

-  Be extremely careful before responding to an e-mail asking for personal data.  Don’t  hesitate not to respond at all or, if you choose to answer, perhaps e-mail or telephone for clarification before providing any personal information.

-  If providing private information in an e-mail or while on the World Wide Web, be very cautious and watchful of the amount and type of information you provide.

The Internet offers us countless opportunities to expand our knowledge and to enrich and enjoy our lives.   Remember to be cautious and serious while online in order to help protect your private information.  So connect online, and get the most from the Internet!  Keep in mind that as our registered student, you may connect online using one of the computers in the Computer Lab at our Learning Centre.

Check these sites for further details and reference:

Internet Safety

Safe Internet Practices

Check your comprehension by completing the Protecting Internet Privacy Crossword Puzzle or Protecting Internet Privacy Multiple Choice Quiz

(May 30, 2010)


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