Friday, January 7, 2011

Safety on the internet

These days, internet safety and
content filtering is a lucrative
industry. There was a time
when computing was a largely
solitary experience. Computers
sat in homes or offices and
programs were purchased from
stores. Data was saved to hard
drives and floppy disks. In those
times before the internet
became part of everyone's
daily routine, home computing
was much safer, if perhaps not
as exciting. In modern times,
thanks to the web and instant
messaging, our computers can
connect us to all kinds of
people and ideas, all over the
The world at your fingertips
Having such a vast repository of
information available to us 24/7
is one of the wonders of the
modern age. Almost any trivial
question or problem can be
solved by simply "looking it up
on the internet". While
determining the quality of the
information available on the
world wide web is sometimes
difficult, there can be little
doubt that its value as a
reference library is immense.
For the first time in history
almost anyone can publish their
work to a medium that is
accessible to millions of people
all around the world.
Of course, not all the
information on the internet is
suitable for everyone. Children,
who are naturally curious and
sociable are particularly at risk.
Pornographers have found the
internet to be a superb
distribution medium and as such
it is extremely easy to
encounter pornography on-line.
Children who use instant
messaging or social networking
sites like Myspace or Bebo are
also at risk from sexual
predators, fraudsters and
fanatics who would seek to
exploit them. While the media
often exaggerates the dangers
they are nevertheless very real
and internet safety is
something responsible parents
cannot afford to ignore.
Even as adults, it pays to be
cautious when using the
internet. So called 'phishing'
scams are on the increase.
These scams involve setting up
a phoney copy of a regular
website (such as your banks
website, or perhaps E-Bay or
Paypal) and then sending out
links encouraging users to visit
these sites and enter their login
credentials. The users are then
told that they cannot login, or
perhaps redirected to the real
version of the site. The
criminals now have their login
details and can access the
victims bank account or other
sensitive information at any
time they please. More
sophisticated criminals exploit
vulnerabilities in older versions
of Internet Explorer or Firefox
to automatically install
malicious software on your PC.
Like we've said before, make
sure your computer, web
browser and antivirus software
is up to date!
Making your PC and internet
connection safer
Before you consider taking
steps to filter out unwanted
content on the web, you should
read our guides to dealing with
Computer Viruses and Spyware.
While using internet security
software such as this can go a
long way to making your PC
more secure, if you have
children who regularly use the
internet, you may wish to
consider implementing a few
internet safety procedures too.
At Top-Windows-Tutorials, we
know how to look after
computers, not children, so
we'll leave it to you to decide
what is best for you and your
family. However, we do believe
that one of the most effective
methods of keeping tabs on
your children's internet usage is
to place the computer in the
living room or family room,
where you and the rest of the
family can keep an eye on it. If
that does not go far enough for
you, there are a few other
options that we'll explore now
Use limited user accounts for
your children, and for
yourself when you surf the
Limited user accounts allow a
user to load and run their
favourite programs but they
don't allow for changes to be
made to the system. This
means that most software
cannot be installed without the
help of someone with an
administrators account. There
are several benefits to this.
Firstly, it makes it much harder
for malicious software to install
itself on your computer
without your permission, even
where a vulnerability exists in
your web browser. Secondly,
your children cannot install
software without your
permission, which can stop
them downloading and using
chat-room software or the
latest online game without
your consent. It also makes it
much harder for your web-
savvy children to bypass any
filtering software or services
you choose to install. Tutorials
which cover configuring limited
user accounts are now available
on our online safety tutorials
Use filtering software or
services to restrict access to
unsuitable websites
There are several commercially
available content filters and
internet safety tools available
for Windows, as well as some
services that can be configured
to work with Windows. The
most effective content filter
we tested was Optenet. We
were also impressed with the
service offered by OpenDNS
which offers free content
filtering that works without any
impact on your internet
connection or your PC. Tutorials
for OpenDNS are now available
on our online safety tutorials
We hope you've found our
introductory guide to internet
safety to be useful and
informative. Head on over to
our online safety tutorials page
for tips and techniques for
keeping your family safe online.

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