lock and key

Is the Internet safe?

looking after your end of the 'Net


basic Internet security

There are two aspects to Internet Insurance: your computer and your Internet account.

Your Internet account is a business agreement between you and your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Like a credit card or keycard, it can be used from many places.

In fact, if you have a laptop you can connect your modem to just about any telephone plug, and if you understand how to 'set up' another computer with your Internet provider's details and your own, you can use your account from just about anyone's computer-and-modem.

However, just like the credit card or keycard, you don't want someone else to be able to use your account.

If someone can connect using your account, s/he can bill up his/her connect-time to you, and you will pay for it.

Also, someone connecting using your username and password is naturally assumed to be you, so if someone does that and then sends abusive messages or... let's not even think about the things that someone could do using your account because you are going to take out Internet Insurance by choosing a password which is 5 to 8 characters long, a mixture of UPPER CASE and lowercase letters and 1234567890 (numbers).

Password-'cracking' programs easily detect passwords which are in any way similar to your username, or are words in the dictionary.

Something like Co22acKs (the 22 reminds me of the ss in cossacks) would be better.

Further safeguard your password by changing it immediately after you open your account.

(you may start your account by writing your password on the application form, but you can change it once you are online, using your Internet Service Provider's password-changing webpage, usually easily found from your ISP's homepage)
Then remember to change it once a month.


don't leave the door open

Your computer, connected to a modem, is a gateway onto the Internet, an incredibly diverse network of other computers and thus other people.

You can Internet insure your computer itself by never walking away and leaving it turned on and connected to the modem.

This is the equivalent of not leaving your back door open.

If you can ring out, others can ring in, and then give directions to your computer.

Your computer has been set up to make it as easy as possible to use your own account.

Do not give in to the temptation to make connection even easier, by entering your username and password into any of the Settings, just so you won't have to identify yourself to your Internet Service Provider.

Not only does this mean that others may be able to find your password, but it also means that others can connect "as you" on your computer.

You may run more than one account on your computer, which is not a problem, because you just make a new settings file for each account, but do not leave any password information on it.

The computer is a gateway, for you, for anyone else using it.

Don't leave the key in it.


kids and the 'Net

Which brings us to children.

The Internet, like the rest of the world which it represents, is a great resource for children, an inevitable learning experience, and a risk.

Just as you need to supervise what kind of TV/movies or video/computer games your children are exposed to, you need to supervise children's access to the Internet.

There are some programs available that advertise they can do this for you,

security programs

but kids are kids and programs are only software...

The best Internet Insurance is the time you spend looking after your computer, looking after your account and looking out for kids.



next article: Money and Speed

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