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Protecting Your Internet Activities and Electronic Data

Be careful using public computers. The computer may be programmed to capture user names and passwords. If you use this type of computer, make sure no one is looking over your shoulder to memorize your personal data; and be sure to sign off when you are done.

When using the Internet for financial transactions, be sure the sites you visit are secure. Most secure sites have URLs that start with "https://" instead of the normal "http://." Some websites may display a logo indicating it is secure, but make sure you know the site is one you trust.

Be careful using wireless networks that are free and not secure. Wireless home networks deserve attention as well. It may be time consuming or more expensive to have a secure network at home, but that is better than having your files and personal information available to anyone on your street.

It is important to install anti-virus software on your computer and keep it up to date. The same holds true for firewalls and security patches for your operating system.

 

Passwords

Having a strong password makes your online activities safer. Strong passwords are at least six characters long or preferably eight. They should contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. The difficulty of long and mixed passwords is that they can be hard to remember. One suggestion is to create a password from a sentence that you are likely to remember. For example, start with the sentence "My children John and Mary are 12 and 16 years old." Then use the first letters of the words, characters and numbers to create the "McJ&Ma12&16yo" password.

 

Disposing of CDs

The best way is to physically destroy the CD. Shred it if you have a shredder that can handle it without difficulties. Otherwise, you can break the CD into pieces. Wrap the CD in a paper towel to avoid shattered plastic.

 

Disposing of a Hard Drive

Highly sensitive information must be removed before disposing of an old PC. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to completely erase that data from your hard drive. Deleting files and even formatting your hard drive does not completely remove the data. The best, easiest and cheapest solution is to remove the hard drive and physically destroy it.