Sunday, July 6, 2008

Keep Your Computer Safe (please!)

While the web is full of wonderful 'goodies' for teaching and learning, there are dangers out there too. I've pasted below a few links to articles about this broad topic. We will be using computers quite a bit for this course, something one might expect in a course about using computers:) However, before we get too far into creating things, I want to encourage you to be careful and perhaps, err on the side of caution. If you feel you can't or shouldn't do something for an assignment because of safety, security, or virus/malware threats... then don't - contact me and we'll find and alternate approach for you.

If you don't currently use items to protect your computer you really should look into that right away (i.e. anti virus, firewall, etc.)

One form of danger I want to caution you about is the Browser Highjacker type of malware. I've fallen victim to this in the past, personally. Essentially, what happens is that the computer increasingly presents pop ups that can't be eliminated the usual ways. Ironically, the most common form this takes are pop ups that offer to sell software that will remove the very thing or type of thing that they are:( This is a form of Internet extortion, in which the perpetrator will only let you remove his software (hidden somewhere in your computer in a way that is designed to prevent you from finding and eliminating it) after you've paid the $50 or so to download the cure. This form of invasion frequently happens when a pop up appears informing you that your computer is or may be infected and offering you a free scan appliation to download or to identify or remove the 'bug'... once you download something it may be too late to get rid of it.

Do not download anything from a source that is not a trusted source and be careful to verify that the name an item offered bears is not just similar, but an actual name you trust. Generally, by going to websites and reading or emailing, things are fine! It is when you click on unfamiliar links and especially when you download things that you put yourself at risk. If a pop up appears offering you software to eliminate an infection that you wouldn't know you had if it wasn't warning you, it may be best to shut the computer down quickly and not even click on the pop up window's "No" or "No Thanks" or conventional "Close Window" icon. These have been known to trigger the infection. After quickly turning the computer off, it may be best to go to the Internet Tools resource and eliminate temporary files and cookies to make sure that you haven't retained anything that could lead back to the bad guys.

Most people never have to worry about the above, but the more you really begin exploring and experimenting (usually good things to do) the more cautious you have to be.

Oh, by the way, the infections I've suffered in the past were not the end of the world. They were upsetting and annoying and difficult to eliminate, but in the end things were fixed and I got back to normal. I am still experimenting, but more cautious about possible consequences.

I've found these but there are many other articles out there:

Just READ the articles ... do not download anything or click on any links from ads!


just the article -"Simple and easy ways to keep your computer safe and secure on the Internet"

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