Surf the Internet Safer

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chess not checkersTHUNDER BAY – Learning how the Internet actually works is something few people do. Most people simply log on, and head online for their email, or to surf the Internet. For some people, issues like privacy or Internet security are not that important. For everyone using the Internet, taking basic precautions to protect your computer is important.

The Internet is a vital communication tool in the lives of millions of people worldwide. With email we are able to communicate almost immediately to friends, family and business associates. The Internet is developing all the time as new technology lets us use it for more things. 

The move, over the past 15 years, from 800-baud modems, to the high-speed modems of today have changed the Internet. The addition of video, pictures, moving animations have all added to the ‘Net.

As the Internet has grown, unfortunately, so have some of the darker parts of the ‘net. Cyberstalking a crime never heard of 20 years ago, is now far too common. Problems on the Internet can range from trolls to cyberstalkers and serious scams. 

Protecting you and your family so you can enjoy a safe online experience is important. 

The first thing to remember is to protect your online information, just like in real life. 

First of all, Protect Your Computer. Make sure your anti-virus software, your anti-spyware software, and your browser and firewall are all up-to-date. 

Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking as defined by The US Department of Justice; “Although there is no universally accepted definition of cyberstalking, the term is used to refer to the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. Most stalking laws require that the perpetrator make a credible threat of violence against the victim; others include threats against the victim’s immediate family; and still others require only that the alleged stalker’s course of conduct constitute an implied threat. While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behavior might fall short of illegal stalking, such behavior may be a prelude to stalking and violence and should be treated seriously.” 

The National Center for Victims of Crime offers an excellent resource to learn more about how to protect you and your family. Their Handbook is available for download free of charge. Their page is a huge collection of resources well worth reading. 

The International Herald Tribune has reported;

“Claire Miller, a 44-year- old publishing executive in New York, recently stripped her nameplate from the tenant directory at the entrance to her apartment building in the Kips Bay neighborhood, where she has lived for more than 11 years. 

“She also asked the landlord to disconnect the buzzer and is in the process of changing her phone number. 

“These are drastic measures for an otherwise outgoing person. 

“But she has been unnerved by a sudden and, since last September, steady onslaught of unsolicited and lewd phone calls, e-mail messages and even late- night visits from male strangers – typically seeking delivery on dark promises made to them online by someone, somewhere, using Miller’s name. 

“I wouldn’t even try to guess at the motivation behind this,” Miller said. 

“She is being harassed – cyberstalked, by modern definition. The term has by now found its way into dozens of state legislatures, police reports and talk-show lineups, joining other unsavory byproducts of the Internet age.”

Cyberstalkers can make life both online, and off, a living hell for Internet users. The best advice to offer if you are ever engaged by an Internet Troll is to ignore them completely. Do not engage a troll. All you will do is encourage them, and that could lead to more problems. 

NET CRIMES & MISDEMEANORS: Outmaneuvering the Spammers, Swindlers and Stalkers Who Are Targeting You Online offers many resources. They have one of the most up-to-date Legislation Resource Pages against cyberstalking. 

Ways to Protect Yourself from online stalkers, trolls and scammers:

Your IP address or Internet Protocol address, is used to identify all the different users and websites online. Your IP address is unique to your computer’s Internet account. Basically computers all operate on numbers, your IP address is a number that identifies your computer online.

You IP address is made up of 4 separate numbers, each between 0 and 255, and arranged with dots in between them. All websites have an IP address. For example, the IP address for Google.com is 216.239.59.147. It is by that number, that other computers find the Google website.

Actually, when you send or receive an email, even though your address is xyz@yourserviceprovider.com, it is actually through the IP number that your message goes through.

It won’t matter if you use a Hotmail Address, or if you use other email services, your IP address is included in the root properties of your email. If you have ever wondered how the police track emails, it is all via the IP address.

So if you receive abusive or other unwanted emails, you can click on the properties of the email, and it will reveal the originating IP address for the message. Try it out and see.

As you learn to be more Internet Aware, you will actually enjoy your Internet experience even more.

Surf safely.

James Murray

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