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Well, I officially learned something new today. Apparently, June is National Internet Safety Month — and it’s not just about finding a way to keep your computer from becoming infected with a virus. It’s more about making sure that kids and others stay safe when they use the internet, whether it’s from hackers, scammers or those with far more malicious intents.

Although the internet is a really great resource to help kids learn and develop, there are a lot of crazies out there which we all have to watch out for. But there is also a lot of content online that isn’t probably isn’t what you want your 9-year-old-son stumbling upon. Kids tend to be more trusting and therefore more vulnerable online, so it’s important that you talk with them about what sort of information they should be sharing (if any) as well as putting certain safety measures in place on your own computer that will nip any problems in the bud before they are even able to really get started.

What Are the Main Internet Safety Hotspots?

  • Avoiding ‘net nasties’ including: phishing, malware and viruses.
  • Avoiding online scams and confidence tricks, Internet fraud and computer crime.
  • Avoiding unwelcome sites, particularly pornography and other sites that may be unsuitable for children.
  • Avoiding unsuitable and undesirable message exchanging on networking sites, perhaps with people who could be dangerous.

“Phishing” emails like this are a classic example of someone trying to harvest your personal information with malicious intentions. Don’t let yourself become a victim!

Tips to Keep Safe Online

  • Share as little personal information online as possible. I’m not saying that you should stop shopping online; but look to see if the shopping cart pages have a https in front of them (this means you’re using a secure connection so your data is not so easy to grab as it flies through the Net). And if a website seems sketchy or untrustworthy, then just find what you were looking for elsewhere. Try to avoid sending your passwords and other user data via emails. And if you do need to share this information with someone who’s performing tech services for you, be sure to change your password(s) when the work is completed. Also, if you get an email similar to the one above that appears to be from a bank (or even your bank) but the links and email addresses don’t quiet match up, it’s better to assume you’re being scammed and log in to your data the way you usually would.
  • Keep an eye on what your kids are doing online. There are several services out there like Net Nanny which can help you keep your kids from ending up on sites which may be inappropriate or offensive. But if your kids are on Facebook or using other social media sites, they are still widely at risk. So make sure they add you as a friend and then pop over to their page on a regular basis to see if anyone strange seems to be hanging around.
  • Try to avoid talking to people you don’t know — and encourage your kids to do the same. Now if you’re active on a forum or blogger, avoiding contact with others is going to be tricky. But if you get a bunch of friend requests or emails from someone you don’t know, it’s usually best to just ignore them.
  • If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is! Use Google and sites like Snopes.com to check out stories that you find suspicious. But if you’re getting an email from someone in Nigeria who wants to send you 15 million dollars for helping them get their money out of the country, if only you send your SSN, address, bank information, etc. — trust me, it’s not legit!
  • Keep an open line of communication open with your kids. The last thing you need them doing is sneaking off to meet someone they just got to know online — and finding out that what you thought was someone your child’s age is actually a mature adult with only the worst intentions in mind.

There are many types of internet security software available these days from a variety of companies. Those like McAfee and Norton are some of the most well known. But do keep in mind that it’s no longer just your PC or laptop that is at risk. With our cell phones, iPads and other devices all having full access to the internet; there are many avenues in which someone can violate your privacy. So be sure to check out some of the full service solutions that will protect you across the board. You read more on Norton Software on their website and don’t forget to do some Googling to find more about what options will work best for your family.

What sort of internet safety practices do you and your family keep to protect yourself online? What’s the best scam email you’ve read so far? 

Interestingly enough, we were contacted by someone “phishing” via our online listing for our house. They were apparently trying to smuggle a safe full of money out of Iraq and hoped to buy our house with it. All we needed to do was take our house off the market, send our SSN and bank info and give them a few weeks to get things in order. Seems totally legit, right? 🙂

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