Sunday 10 February 2013

Safer Internet Day: February 5, 2013

Okay, I missed it. Well, I missed writing about it but since this topic is timeless, here goes anyway.

It's the second day of the second month which in 2013 lands on February 5th. The idea started in Europe with the objective of promoting safe, responsible use of the Internet to young people. However Google celebrated the day with their own promotion of safety tips for all of us regardless of age. The Internet, like real life, has its share of nefarious villains and we could all do well to heed the advice of the experts by practising some common sense. In the video below from, we hear the following questions.

You wouldn't let your children talk to strangers in the street. Why do it on-line?

You wouldn't follow a stranger in real life. Why do it on-line?

You wouldn't poke a stranger in real life. Why do it on-line?

You wouldn't advertise your details to strangers. Why do it on-line?

These are good tips. The anonymity of the Internet and its ubiquity can lead to complacency. Yes, we can become complacent about what we do. Talk to strangers? Advertise your details to strangers? If you wouldn't do something in real life, why would you do it virtually on the Internet? Yes, the Internet and social media give us all an unprecedented means of communicating and connecting with other people. Coffee shops and bars also give us an opportunity to connect but I'm sure anybody would exercise a degree of prudence. Most of the people in the world are nice people but note that I said "most", I didn't say all. (see my blog: Amanda Todd: The cruelty in all of us)

Spam Emails
Since I know a little bit about computers, family, friends, and colleagues are forever asking my opinion on such and such. Did UPS really send me a package? or Why is my bank asking me to update my account information? and an oldie but goodie Should I send some money to Nigeria?

If it's in print, it's real. If it's in an email, it's real. If it's on the Internet, it's just got to be true. If you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

All right, it all sounds silly but scams are as old as time itself. Caveat emptor: buyer beware. It is our responsibility to be knowledgeable. If we are not in the know, it isn't even a question of somebody hoodwinking us; it's a question of us making a mistake out of sheer ignorance. Before we do anything, we need to prepare ourselves. Jumping out of an airplane? I did put on a parachute, right?

Here are a few guidelines about potentially dangerous emails.

UPS, FedEx, or DHL
I have seen all sorts of supposedly legitimate looking emails from courier companies professing to have a package for me if I only log in and divulge all sorts of personal information.

Do you see your full name anywhere in the body of the message?

What? UPS has a package for me but they don't even know my name? Ah, come on, if you have my email address, and if you really have a package for me, you have to have my full name.

When you hold your mouse over a link, what do you see in the status bar?

UPS says it has a package for me but I have to log in to get it. I hold my mouse over the link and instead of seeing "", I see "". If the domain doesn't match the company, this is like a one hundred and ten percent sign you are being scammed. (domain = name of web site as in "")

Plane Tickets
An airline has sent you a notice than your tickets are now available. First of all, and I think this is a pretty good question to ask yourself: Did you book a plane flight? No? So, what are the chances this is legitimate? Seriously. Please think about that twice. Okay, how about three or four times?

Now go back to the previous points. Is your full name used anywhere in the body of the message? Does the domain of the company appear in link to log in?

Somebody has hacked into my bank account
How often does this happen? I can't give you a percentage but there are enough stories in the news that should make all of us sit up and take notice. When we unwittingly click on links, we open the door to our computers getting infected and once hackers have infected a computer, they can potentially get anything. It is like they are looking over our shoulders as we type away accessing password protected files, doing our online banking, and even typing in our PINs.

Adobe Flash Update
I have to shake my head. Last year I stupidly clicked on a popup window asking to update my Adobe Flash. Even though I had never seen such an update, for some reason (I was distracted with something else) I naively, stupidly, gullibly, idiotically, innocently, foolishly clicked and unleashed the hounds of hell. (see my blog below)

Anybody know what a rootkit is? Gee-sus H Kay Rist. The author is a genius. Yeah, he's a @#$%^& genius. If we ever meet, I intend on shaking his hand right before I punch his lights out.

As a result of my little bout of stupidity, I madly changed the password on all my bank accounts realising this little bastard could have been recording all my keystrokes and sending my personal information back to the mothership to sell on the hackers' eBay to the Russians or Chinese. Gee, how did my bank balance end up at zero and why is my landlord threatening to kick my sorry butt to the curb for one little NSF cheque?

Final Word
Your favourite key is the DELete key. Use it and use it often. I have gotten to the point where the subject and the subject alone is enough to tell me if the email is spam or not. I ofttimes delete such messages without even opening them up. Why bother? I don't have courier packages coming to me and I didn't book any plane tickets. DELete. Get lost. I'm not wasting my time.

Years ago, Time Magazine ran an article on passwords and the need to be more thorough in coming up with something original. The number one password? The word "password". It's a different world and we all must be more prudent. We all must be more knowledgeable clients of the Internet. Caveat emptor.


Google: A guide to staying safe and secure online
Explore quick tips and how-to’s that explain what you can do to stay safe and secure on the web.

Wikipedia: Insafe
Insafe is a European network of Awareness Centres promoting safe, responsible use of the Internet and mobile devices to young people. ... The Insafe network organises the Safer Internet Day, which has taken place annually on the second day of the second week of February since 2004 and also involves numerous countries outside Europe.

The mission of the Insafe cooperation network is to empower citizens to use the internet, as well as other online technologies, positively, safely and effectively.

Safe Internet Day
Safer Internet Day (SID) is organised by Insafe in February of each year to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world.

Published on Nov 8, 2012 by saferinternetday2013
Safer Internet Day 2013

my blog: Adobe Flash Update: I'm infected! And I'm an idiot!
Infection? Okay, this isn't another of my postings on my health. Nope, this time I'm talking about my computer. If I ever get my hands on the techno-nerd computer genius who wrote this little gem of a contagion, I'll first shake his hand impressed by his programming proficiency then bash him over the head about his inability to comprehend the havoc he's wreaking on unsuspecting and gullible idiots like me. I hope you're reading this, you little f**ker.

NY Times - Nov 7/2012
How to Devise Passwords That Drive Hackers Away by Nicole Perlroth
Chances are, most people will get hacked at some point in their lifetime. The best they can do is delay the inevitable by avoiding suspicious links, even from friends, and manage their passwords. Unfortunately, good password hygiene is like flossing — you know it’s important, but it takes effort.

my blog: Amanda Todd: The cruelty in all of us
On October 7, 2012, 15 year old Amanda Michelle Todd posted a YouTube video (at end of article) in which she showed a series of flashcards describing her experiences of being the target of bullying both on-line and in real life that had been going on for years. Watching the video and reading her story is both startling and perplexing. Why would classmates and total strangers go so far in displaying such cruelty towards Amanda? On October 10, 2012, Amanda committed suicide in her home in Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada.


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