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Monthly Archives: May 2010

8 Reasons To Switch To Windows 7

There are no doubts about the fact that Windows 7 was received with open arms by not only the average computer user, but also by people who jump on every opportunity of criticizing Microsoft. The company drew a lot of flak for Vista, and a huge number of PC users were so frustrated that they went back to XP. But Windows 7 has changed the game altogether. If you are still thinking about a switch to Windows 7 and have some doubts in mind then this article aims to clear the air.

1. Best operating system by Microsoft to date
Yes, Windows 7 is the best Windows version till date in all aspects, and the great thing is most of the software and tools that work in Vista should work in this OS too.

2. Task-bar & Jump Lists
You can quickly pin programs to the task bar, slide and arrange items, and do much more. Another great new feature called jump-lists makes it easy to quickly jump to the frequently used folders and files. There are third-part tools too, like the Jump-list Launcher that let you build customized jump-lists.

3. Better security & interface
Windows 7 looks stylish and better. Features like Aero Snap and Aero Peek make it fun working in the new operating system. Security has been enhanced too. They have taken care of the User Account Control feature, one of the biggest annoyances of Vista users. In Windows 7, it is more flexible and you can actually choose the alert level for User Account Controls.

4. Speed
Quickly get to the welcome screen after press the On button. And not just that, you can see the difference when working with different applications. It’s performance is definitely much better than Vista.

5. Better integration with hardware
Windows 7 supports advanced hardware like touch-screens, is compatible with different kinds of computer parts (much better than Vista) and automatically installs device drivers for new hardware.

6. Upgrading from XP is easy
If you are one of those who switched back to XP after your terrible experience with Vista, and aren’t sure about upgrading to Windows 7, then there is good news – Windows 7 has been built in a way that it supports most of the apps supported by XP and hence upgrading isn’t that difficult.

7. The XP Mode
If you do find a program which you use frequently on XP and it refuses to run on Windows 7, then you could use the Windows 7 XP mode to run Windows XP in a virtual mode right inside Windows 7. Cool, isn’t it? But Remember you must have the Professional or Ultimate Editions.

Which on is right for you?

  • 05/28/2010
  • IT

Facebook’s New, Simpler Privacy Controls

Facebook’s new privacy settings will roll out to users over the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye on your Facebook page for a privacy prompt.

Controlling Sharing with Others

Instead of having many different content categories to choose from, some of the categories have been combined. For example, “status, photos, and posts” are all now in one category, and you can choose to share them with everyone, friends of friends, or friends only. Further, some categories have been removed from this section, like activities and interests.

There are “quick links” on the side that allow you to modify all your categories viewable to “everyone” or “friends of friends, as well as a quick setting for Facebook’s recommended settings. You can also customize it to your liking, picking your own privacy setting for each category. A green check mark shows which choice in the sidebar you’re currently using, which makes it pretty easy to see what you’re sharing.

Your Directory Information

Facebook has responded to criticism about information that is automatically shard publicily, like your pages and list of friends. When someone search for you, they’ll be able to see your name, profile picture, gender, and networks, so people can tell who you are when they search. However, there is another interesting addition to this list: Facebook has decided to make your activities and other interests public so people with similar interests can connect with you. There does not seem to be any way to change this to a more private setting. This certainly does simplify things, but it seems like it defeats the purpose of making the other stuff private by default—and it makes us wonder whether they were really listening to the complaints at all this whole time.

Applications

They have kept the “opt out” model as opposed to “opt in” as far as sharing your information with applications and other web sites. Again, though, it is simpler—now it’s one single option instead of many. You can view applications, remove any you don’t want, or turn off all applications completely, meaning none of your information will be shared.

By default, applications have access to any information that is set to public (i.e. information viewable in searches and information set to be viewable by “everyone”), and applications will ask your permission to view any private data when you install them. So, again, it’s sort of an improvement, but it also seems like they’re trying to pull a fast one on unsuspecting users by making the whole thing opt-out—another major complaint of the past few months that Facebook seems to have just ignored.
Block Lists

Lastly is your block list, which was already pretty simple, and has just been kept as its own setting. From here you can block friends and applications from your view; so you won’t see their posts on your news feed or anywhere else.

What Hasn’t Changed

There are a few things that are still around and should be familiar to anyone who’s taken a look at privacy settings before. You can still set preferences on a post-by-post basis, so if your statuses are set to public but you have one status update that you only want your friends to see, you can just click the lock under the status update box. Also, you can control who can view photos and posts you’ve been tagged in, but you can’t stop people from tagging you, which was one of the glaring features missing in Facebook’s privacy settings before.

As we said, the new privacy settings will roll out over the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for a prompt on your Facebook page when you login over the coming days.

via Facebook Blog

  • 05/27/2010
  • IT

Protect yourself against computer security threats

Can you, as an average user, instinctively recognize security threats well enough to avoid them? Let’s take a closer look at ways to do just that.

USE CAUTION: When downloading or opening files

Ask yourself: “Do I recognize this person sending me a file or telling me to visit a website? Can I be sure that it’s really them? Is the message written in language and style that my friend or this organization would normally use?”

Incredibly, it is both free and easy to fraudulently send an email that appears to come from someone else’s email account! So what should you do to be on your guard? Do you reply to an email that looks a little strange and ask the sender whether they intended to send it and to confirm where they got the file if there is an attachment? Do you ask them if they themselves exercised similar caution when they received the file? In truth, you’re not going to want or be able to engage in that kind of discourse with every slightly suspect link or attachment that you see, so if you don’t recognize the sender and it looks suspicious then delete it. So put simply, be careful where you click and exercise a little EXTRA common sense, if that makes sense!

USE CAUTION: When following links to websites

If you are asked to visit a website, ask yourself whether the ‘URL bar’ (the ‘address bar’ at the top of your Internet browser) starts with exactly the same Internet domain name you would usually use to access that company’s site? If in any doubt – check!

Don’t surf the web or open files when you have Administrator privileges

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from many deception attacks – those that install unintended software on your computer – is to avoid logging into your computer using the ‘Administrator’ account, or using a personal account that has ‘Administrator’ privileges. If you do need to log in as Administrator (to change your system settings etc.) , make sure at least that User Access Control (UAC) is enabled, if you are using Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7, then you will be asked if you really want to install. This is easy to turn on from the Windows CONTROL PANEL just by typing “UAC” into the search box.

Protect yourself with up-to-date software

Finally of course, keep the online security software up-to-date on your PC. All of the main security software companies spend millions every year to ensure that whenever someone learns about a new Internet security threat, we work out what the risks posed by that threat are, how the mechanics of the threat may cause it to target you and how to protect your computer from it.

The makers of operating systems, Internet browsers and the most common software applications spend vast amounts of time and money looking out for new security threats that exploit potential problems within their products, and whenever one is found (by anyone) they usually fix the hole in their software quickly and release an update. This software fix is usually known as a ‘patch’ or as an ‘update’.

All computer users should regularly visit their operating system vendor’s website (e.g. http://windows.update.com for Windows) and run the update software to keep their OS and tools bug free.

Similarly, you should follow the update guidelines and visit the websites of the companies that supply all of the software that you use, to ensure that you are always running the latest version and are up to date with security fixes.

So with a little knowledge, a little caution, a little rigor applied to processes we use to make sure our operating system, Internet browsers and other PC applications are always up to date – and by using a good online security product, we can be confident that we are protecting our electronic information and our online lives against virtually every Internet threat that is likely to attack.

via AVG Blogs

  • 05/26/2010
  • IT

How to stay safe shopping online?

Shopping online does carry some risk, but so does shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. So we have put together eleven tips to help you shop securely online.

1.  Click Carefully
The time to find out whether a page is bad, is BEFORE you load it into your web browser. Employ a URL scanning tool to ensure you don’t click on links that lead to infected web pages. The majority of existing service providers use a “databank” to obtain this information, which means the information is outdated and exposes you to unnecessary risks. AVG LinkScanner does the searching for you in real time; all links are scanned for you to ensure you can make an informed decision.

2.  Be “S” Secure
Always make sure the websites you are purchasing from are secure and have “https://” (as supposed to the traditional http://) in the URL when you are in the checkout/purchase process. Rule of thumb: the “S” ensures security. When you are in the secure section of a website, you will also see an icon of a locked padlock either on the address bar or on the bottom right corner. This ensures your information stays intact, without the interference from any outsiders.

3.  Stay current on security software
This means making sure you have the latest virus protection software updates from your security software provider. Unfortunately it’s not always possible to stem the flow of malware. As technology keeps developing, so does the malware. However, if you are up-to-date with your antivirus software, you are staying one step ahead, and your information is unlikely to be compromised.

4.  Keep your private information private
Create a separate e-mail account that is solely for online shopping use. Email is FREE with Google/Yahoo. Make sure you use a unique password, which is different from any of the other accounts you may have. Your dedicated shopping e-mail account should be in no way affiliated with your personal, everyday e-mail account/s. Make sure you keep a record of all your online shopping; remember to always print e-mail confirmations as well as any other confirmation pages that might be offered by the online retailer and save these in a secure place. The printed confirmation pages will work as insurance for you if anything was to go wrong and your information ends up in the wrong hands.

5.  Mix up your passwords
Each shopping account, bank account, credit card account and e-mail account should have a unique password. Many of us keep the same password as we think it makes our lives easier. Everyone should write the passwords down and keep the information in a secure location; for example store them in a drawer, rather than on your computer. By ensuring unique passwords are used for each account, you will make it tougher for the online thieves to steal your personal information. See password article for ideas

6.  Watch out for scams
If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers are very cunning. Cross-check information on the internet and see if anyone else has had problems. Be extremely wary of anything that is offered in an unsolicited or spam email. Visit www.ongaurdonline.gov for more ways to protect yourself against internet scams.

7.  Pay Safely
Paypal or Google Checkout are preferred; but remember it is better to use a credit card for purchases than debit cards, as they offered a higher level of protection. Under federal law, credit card issuers can only hold customers liable for the first $50 of fraudulent transactions, and most issuers will waive even that amount. Further Verified by Visa and Mastercard SecureCode are security initiatives put in place that offer another level of security if a fraudster does have your card and tries to use it for an online purchase. This is technology put in place by card companies to make things make more difficult for criminals.

8.  Don’t install “money saving” software
Beware of web pages with special offers or coupons that require software installation. Agreeing to the installation of one program is often a backdoor for unwarranted programs, malware and spyware. Always check the end-user agreement before you click ‘agree’ and if the program you want also installs other programs, cancel the application. Sometimes, you never know what you’re agreeing to.

9. Trust your instincts
If you don’t feel comfortable buying or bidding on an item over the web, or if you feel pressured to place your order immediately, maybe you shouldn’t.

10.  Shop From a Secure PC
If possible, avoid using the family PC that your teens or children use to chat with their buddies and play games online. Those machines are often already infested with spyware. An infected system will undermine all of the other precautions you might take to avoid online fraud. Before you start shopping online, make sure your system is running with up-to-date anti-virus software, and that you’re using a firewall to block potential intruders. Just as important, be sure that your computer has the latest Microsoft software security updates installed.

11.  Know the merchant
If you’re not familiar with the merchant, do a little research like typing its name (and perhaps the word “scam”) into a search engine to see if there are any reports of scams. Look for user reviews on sites like Eopinions.com. Look for seller ratings if you locate the merchant through a shopping search engine like Google Shopping . Google doesn’t certify the integrity of the sites that come up in its searches, but if you see lots of seller ratings that are mostly positive, that’s a pretty good sign. You’re generally pretty safe with sellers that are affiliated with shopping aggregators like Amazon.com or Yahoo Shopping.

  • 05/25/2010
  • IT

Web Coupons: Friend or Foe

Web Coupons Know Lots About You, and They Tell. For decades, shoppers have taken advantage of coupons. Now, the coupons are taking advantage of the shoppers.

A new breed of coupon, printed from the Internet or sent to mobile phones, is packed with information about the customer who uses it. While the coupons look standard, their bar codes can be loaded with a startling amount of data, including identification about the customer, Internet address, Facebook page information and even the search terms the customer used to find the coupon in the first place. And all that information follows that customer into the store.

Using coupons to link Internet behavior with in-store shopping lets retailers figure out which ad slogans or online product promotions work best, how long someone waits between searching and shopping, even what offers a shopper will respond to or ignore. The coupons can, in some cases, be tracked not just to an anonymous shopper but to an identifiable person.

Using coupons also lets the retailers get around Google privacy protections. Google allows its search advertisers to see reports on which keywords are working well as a whole but not on how each person is responding to each slogan. Google has built privacy protections into all Google services and report Web site trends only in aggregate, without identifying individual users. The retailers, however, can get to an individual level by sending different keyword searches to different Web addresses. The distinct Web addresses are invisible to the consumer, who usually sees just a Web page with a simple address at the top of it.

While companies once had a slim dossier on each consumer, they now have databases packed with information. And every time a person goes shopping, visits a Web site or buys something, the database gets another entry. None of the tracking is visible to consumers. The coupon can also include retailers’ own client identification numbers (Jill Jones might be client No. 67543289), then the retailer can connect that with the actual person if it wants to, for example, to send a follow-up offer or a thank-you note.

The companies argue that the coupon strategy gives them direct feedback on how well their marketing is working. Once the shopper prints an online coupon or sends it to his cellphone and then goes to a store, the clerk scans it. The bar code information is sent and analyzed. Many say they avoid connecting that number with real people to steer clear of privacy issues, but you the consumer can not make that match.

The retailer can also make that connection when it is offering coupons to its Facebook fans. The coupon efforts are nascent, but coupon companies say that when they get more data about how people are responding, they can make different offers to different consumers.

Already, there is no lack of examples where people have fallen prey to “too-good-to-be-true” offers. One case in point was an iPad scam which promised users they could sign up as iPad testers and keep the device for free thereafter. The scammers were, in fact, harvesting mobile numbers for subscription to a premium-rate cellphone service.

Companies can “offer you, perhaps, less desirable products than they offer me, or offer you the same product as they offer me but at a higher price,” said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the United States Public Interest Research Group, which has asked the Federal Trade Commission for tighter rules on online advertising. “There really have been no rules set up for this ecosystem.”

That alarms privacy advocates. In any case, the solution to avoiding such scams is, in reality, very simple, read the privacy policy, if it isn’t clear or you can’t find it, why not simply forgo the discount? The general rule of thumb is if in doubt, leave it out.

via nytimes.com

  • 05/24/2010
  • IT

Facebook Privacy Features Revealed and Explained

While Facebook used to assume that you didn’t want to share much personal data with the world outside of their walled garden, the service now seems to be taking a fairly liberal stance on the issue, with recent changes exposing more information about you to the outside world than ever before. But users who take a little time to arm themselves with information about the changes find that they have more control over their privacy than ever before.

Be prepared this will take a while :^)

Before you venture into the privacy options, let’s first visit Account Settings under the same menu.

First Things First: My Account

At the top of the My Account page, you’ll find seven tabs. The one we’re interested in is the last one on the right side: Facebook Ads. These newly-added settings are among the most potentially suspect that Facebook has enacted, since they control how advertising using your data is displayed on the site to your friends–and someday, even to third parties.

The Facebook Ads settings include two controls, and currently they either allow ads to be displayed to friends with your information, or to no one at all. The first setting controls ads displayed by third parties; Facebook is quick to note that they do not give such applications or ad networks the right to use your name or photo(s) in ads, but that could change in the future. If the mere idea of that sends a chill down your spine (as well it should), change the “Allow ads on platform pages to show my information to” setting from “Only my friends” (which is the default) to “No one.”

Likewise, the setting at the bottom of this page controls how your information is used in Facebook-generated ads. As you can see from the two sample ads on the settings page above, by default Facebook can use your personal tastes to help sway your friends into also becoming fans of things that you like. If you find this somewhat nefarious and would prefer to opt out of the practice, change the “Show my social actions in Facebook Ads to” setting to “No one.” Now your friends will have to decide for themselves what’s hip and cool.

Be sure to hit the “Save Changes” after each choice, otherwise your new options won’t take effect.

Now let’s go back to the Account menu in the top right corner of the screen and select Privacy Settings from the submenu. You’ll then be presented with six sections to control how your information is presented. Let’s select the first one, Personal Information and Posts.

Privacy Settings

Once inside, you’ll be greeted by nine options that control how most of your key personal data is presented. For all but two of these, you can choose to display the data to Everyone, Friends of Friends, Only Friends or Customize.

First, let’s take a look at what each option does.

Everyone – Anything with that option selected is exposed to the world, both within Facebook and beyond – to the ends of the cyber world. In general, you’d be wise to use the Everyone option sparingly, especially with personal details such as who you’re interested in or looking for and maybe even your religious and political views, since those tend to be hot topics in today’s world. Keep in mind that many potential employers are turning to sites like Facebook to see what you’re really like — by choosing “Everyone,” you’re potentially letting these people see your deepest, darkest secrets (assuming you choose to share them in such a public forum to begin with). However, there are a few settings where you want to keep Everyone selected, such as enabling potential new friends to find you in the first place, which we’ll get into shortly.

Friends of Friends – gives both your friends and anyone they might be friends with the ability to see your data — not really a big deal since in many cases, you likely have many of the same friends as your friends. But if you and your friends share a mutual acquaintance that they love and you don’t particularly care for, this setting is not for you — it will give that unwelcome non-friend the opportunity to peek into your Facebook world. We’d say play it safe, and also use this option sparingly.

Only Friends – is the easiest choice to make, it allows you to control what people see based on who you allow to be your Facebook friend in the first place. As long as you’re particular about who you allow into your close circle of Facebook friends, this may be the only privacy setting you need. After all, in the future you can block (or even defriend) them to shut them out of your social life as quickly as you let them in.

Customize – gives you a lot more flexibility than the other settings. In addition to the first three options, you can choose to make certain sections visible only to specific friends or even only to yourself; likewise, you can also hide certain functions from specific people, simply by entering their name or even the name of a friend list, if you want to block out a whole group of people.

You may have noticed in the upper right section of the Privacy Settings there is a button marked “Preview My Profile.” At any time, you can click this to display your profile with your current settings and see how non-friends will view your page. You can even type the name of specific people, if you’ve done any customized privacy selections, so you can view your page the way they’ll be able to see it.

Personal Information and Posts

Bio and Quotations – covers your biographical information in the About Me section of your page, including any favorite quotes you may have entered there.

Birthday – is exactly that, your birth date and year.

Interested In and Looking For – allows others to see what your intentions are for using Facebook: Are you just looking for friends, business colleagues or maybe a new lover?

Religious and Political Views – will show whatever options you have selected there, which many people might consider private and choose to withhold from the public.

Photo Albums – The Photo Albums privacy settings are more complicated. Click on Edit Settings and you’ll see a list of all your photo albums, with individual privacy options for each one. For instance, you might want to share photos of your recent vacation with the world, but another album with photos of your wife giving birth might be saved only for your true friends and family. Make your choices and then click on the Privacy link at the top to return to the main six options.

Now let’s go back into Personal Information and Posts and look at the remaining choices.

Posts by Me – gives you control over how your status updates, links, notes, photos and videos are displayed to the world, these are likely to reveal your true self to the world, so choose your privacy setting wisely here.

Allow friends to post on my Wall – simply an on or off setting: By default, your friends are allowed to post stuff on your Wall. If you don’t want this, uncheck the box on the right side.

Posts by Friends and Comments on Posts – The first option simply gives you control over who can see posts that you have allowed friends to make on your profile, while the second does the same for any comments that friends have made on posts that you create. If your friends tend to be vulgar or make comments you wouldn’t want your family to see, you might want to adjust these privacy settings accordingly.

Let’s go back to the main Privacy Settings by clicking “Back to Privacy,” which commits your choices (you always have the option to go back later and revise them). The next section is Contact Information, so let’s go there now.

Contact Information

This section controls how other users can view the various methods of contacting you outside of Facebook, including IM Screen Name, Mobile Phone, Other Phone, Current Address, Website and any e-mail addresses you’ve added to the service. You always have the option of excluding most of this information to begin with, in which case these privacy settings don’t really matter. Unless your list of Facebook friends are truly people you know personally, we’d advise caution, this is the information that stalkers would consider a goldmine.

There are two options on this page where you probably will want to use the default “Everyone” setting.

Add me as a friend – allows any and all to find you in a Facebook search, using whatever information from your profile that you have allowed to be public. If you change this from the default setting, it’s likely you’ll never get any friend requests, because no one will be able to find you on the site.

Send me a message – controls who can actually send you a message through Facebook. There’s not much reason to change the default “Everyone” setting, since you can always block (or even tag as spam) any unwanted messages through the feature, and you’re not revealing any private data such as your personal e-mail address. But if you really want to only be contacted by friends (or friends of friends), feel free to change this setting.

Friends, Tags and Connections

Friends – controls how your friends list is displayed to others; if you leave this at the default “Everyone,” then anyone can browse your list of friends in search of others they might know.

Family – shares your connections with relatives, which is probably best shared only with friends in most cases. Ditto for “Relationships,” which shares details on your spouse or children, including anniversaries.

Photos and Videos of Me – gives you control over how your friends can share this data with others. While they are free to tag you in a photo or video, if you have this option set for “Only Friends,” then outsiders won’t be able to see the photo, regardless of which privacy setting your friend has selected.

Current City, Hometown, and Education and Work – These are options you might want to leave available to Everyone, since it will help old classmates track you down based on where & when you went to school and where you grew up.

Activities, Interests, and Things I Like – These options are more personal and probably best shared only with friends, since they show how you spend your time. Of course, you’re also free to leave such sections blank, in which case it won’t matter what privacy settings you select here.

Applications and Websites

The first option, “What you share,” isn’t really an option at all, but rather a “Learn More” button which attempts to explain this section better.

What friends can share about you

If you’re a paranoid type by nature, you might choose to quickly uncheck all of these choices, but some of them can be useful, depending upon how you use Facebook. For example, if you uncheck “My photos” then your friends won’t be able to share your photos with others. If you like to post links from other websites to your Facebook Wall, you might also want to leave “My links” checked, so your friends have the option of also sharing them. If you don’t want anything you’ve posted on Facebook to leave the site, uncheck all of these options and click “Save Changes.”

The next two settings aren’t really privacy settings — instead, they let you edit any applications you may have blocked or friends you’ve chosen to ignore. If you haven’t done either, you can ignore these; otherwise, you might take a moment to check these lists and make sure you’re not missing out on something you might actually be interested in.

Activity on Applications and Games Dashboards – controls how others can see what you’ve been up to with applications and games your friends have shared. If you tend to kill a lot of time playing games on Facebook, you might want to adjust this setting so that fewer people know about it.

Instant Personalization

Facebook’s new controversial Instant Personalization Pilot Program. Click on the Edit Setting button and you get a page with only one option: “Allow select partners to instantly personalize their features with my public information when I first arrive on their websites.” This setting is checked (and active) by default, and most people opt to un-select it immediately, since it’s one of the bigger invasions of privacy on Facebook so far.

Currently, the “partner sites” are limited to MicrosoftDocs.com, Pandora and Yelp, which pull your personal data to determine what relevant content to display to you. While you can opt out of this “experience” on each individual site, it’s probably better to send a message to Facebook by opting out completely so they don’t continue to use our personal data.

Search

Facebook Search Results – allows other permission to search and find your profile within the Facebook site itself. This option is relatively benign, since you control how your profile is presented and what information you’re showing to non-friends elsewhere. Want to be found by old friends just joining Facebook? You should leave this one at “Everyone.”

Public Search Results – determines how your profile is viewed on search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc). If you’re not comfortable with any part of your profile turning up in a search engine, uncheck the Allow option immediately. (it’s selected by default.)

Block List

You can block people by adding either their name or e-mail. If you’ve blocked someone, it will show their name or e-mail address in a list and you can remove the block at any time. This setting is particularly useful if someone is contacting you from outside of Facebook that you don’t want to hear from, and you don’t want to limit everyone by changing your privacy setting to “Only Friends.”

Congratulations

You’ve mastered Facebook’s privacy options! Despite how confusing Facebook has made most of their privacy settings, it’s nice to at least have the options available, maybe they will work to make things a little simpler, too.

You feel safer already, don’t you?  Share the security with your friend and family.

Dig Deeper:

Official Facebook Privacy Page

Official Facebook Blog
Official Facebook Help Center

Adapted from maclife

  • 05/21/2010
  • IT

As Parents what can we do to protect our children using Facebook?

You would never let your child play alone at an unfamiliar place, so you shouldn’t let your children, tweens or teens spend endless unsupervised time on Facebook — without adult supervision, either.

“Sometimes parents are intimidated by the technology and don’t understand it,” said Rose, co-author of the new book The Facebook Guide For Parents. “But it’s really important to make sure you are there to see what’s going on.”

The guide offers step-by-step instructions on navigating the social media site. It pays special attention to safety issues including the correct privacy settings for children; what to do about cyber-bullying; and ways to educate children and parents about what they can and cannot post. The book, $25, can be downloaded, and includes a contract that parents can have their children sign to keep Facebook activity in check.

Perhaps you’ll be surprised to find that Rose and her co-authors, Lisa McKenzie, Francine Allaire and Cindy Ratzlaff, are fans of Facebook and other social media. But in doing research for their work, these mothers, aunts and sisters realized many people, especially children, weren’t aware that their personal information was posted in cyberspace for all to see. In fact, more than 9 million children between 13 and 17 are registered Facebook users.

Here are their suggestions for parents:

Join Facebook
Even if you aren’t interested in social media, set up your own account and insist that your son or daughter “friend’ you. Strike a bargain that you won’t comment on their wall (at least on regularly). Remind them that it’s your job to protect them and you need to be there to watch what they say and the people they talk to. Ask other people to help you keep an eye on activity. Ask aunts, uncle, cousins, grandparents and even other parents to join and become your child’s Facebook friend. In this global world “it takes a village” to keep everyone safe, Rose said.

Review settings
Just because it’s “social” doesn’t mean your child’s Facebook profile has to be “personal.” Too many people share too much information about themselves.Children, and even adults, should never list a list a home address, telephone number or show their full birthday, which makes them an easy target for identity theft. In the profile section, only month and day should show. In addition, Rose suggest removing hometown and school names if they are listed; again, too much information. Under the “privacy settings” make sure personal information, posts, contact information and friend information are available to “friends only.” When the box says “everyone” that means everyone on the Internet. Even the box that reads “friends of friends” opens your child up to too many strangers.

Set rules
Explain to your child that they shouldn’t write anything they wouldn’t say in a face-to-face conversation. Basically, don’t share anything you wouldn’t want your mother or father to see. Share with them that, an inappropriate comment today can affect a college application or job interview in the future. Tell children they cannot be “friends” with adults they do not know. If an unknown person asks to be your child’s friend, report that person immediately.

Watch out for bullies
While strangers are a worry, cyber-bullying is an even more common problem on Facebook, Rose said. Let your child know that it’s unacceptable to bully others. If he or she is the victim, make it clear they must tell you immediately. Parents can e-mail the information to Facebook’s safety center, without your child or the perpetrator knowing. The posts will be eliminated and the bully removed from the site.

Check back often
Pay attention to your child’s friends and what they are talking about. If you don’t like something, don’t comment online. Talk about it with your child in person.
Fan pages » Pay attention to the groups or “fan pages” he or she has joined. These can be public sites and might provide ways that strangers can access your child’s personal information.
Ch-ch-changes » Facebook is continually changing. Every 30 days, look through the personal and privacy settings to make sure things haven’t changed and they are set the way you want. Also, google your child’s name on occasion to see what kind of information is posted on the internet.

Locate your computer in a “Public Place”
Parents should have the “family pc” in a well traveled area (dinning room, etc) that they can causually glace at while their kids are online…or encourage the kids they can use their WiFi laptops in the living room.

Get the Facebook Guide For Parents now >>

Adapted from sltrib.com

  • 05/20/2010
  • IT

What are the symptoms of an infected computer?

It’s hard to tell if your computer has been compromised. The authors of viruses, worms, Trojans and spyware are going to great lengths to hide their code and conceal what their programs are doing on an infected computer. It’s very difficult to provide a list of characteristic symptoms of a compromised computer because the same symptoms can also be caused by hardware and/or software problems.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Your computer behaves in a way that you haven’t seen before.
  • You see unexpected messages or images.
  • You hear unexpected sounds.
  • Programs start unexpectedly.
  • Your personal firewall tells you that an application has tried to connect to the Internet (and it’s not a program that you ran).
  • Your friends tell you that they have received e-mail messages from your address and you haven’t sent them anything.
  • Your computer ‘freezes’ frequently, or programs start running slowly.
  • You get lots of system error messages.
  • The operating system will not load when you start your computer.
  • You notice that files or folders have been deleted or changed.
  • You notice hard disk access (shown by one of the small flashing lights) when you’re not aware of any programs running.
  • Your web browser behaves erratically, e.g. you can’t close a browser window.

Here’s what you should do:

First don’t panic if you experience any of the above. You may have a hardware or software problem, rather than a virus, worm or Trojan.


Disconnect your computer from the Internet. If your computer is connected to a local area network, disconnect it from the network.

Start the computer in Safe Mode (when you switch on the computer, press and hold F8 as soon it begins, then choose ‘Safe Mode’ from the menu that will appear), or boot from a rescue CD.

Make sure your anti-virus signatures are up-to-date. If possible, don’t download updates using the computer you think is compromised, but use another computer (e.g. a friend’s computer). This is important: if your computer is infected and you connect to the Internet, a malicious program may send important information to a remote hacker, or send itself to people whose e-mail addresses are stored on your computer.

Scan the whole computer. If a malicious program is found, follow the guidelines provided by your Internet security vendor. Good security programs provide the option to disinfect infected objects, quarantine objects that may be infected, and delete worms and Trojans. They also create a report file that lists the names of infected files and the malicious programs found on the computer.

If you don’t find anything, your machine is probably not infected. Check the hardware and software installed on your computer (remove any unlicensed software and any junk files) and make sure you have the latest operating system and application patches installed.

If you have any problems removing malicious programs or you need any further assistance please contact BWS Technologies 334-358-6305.

  • 05/20/2010
  • IT

8 Things to STOP Doing Now on Facebook

A few simple things to have a safer Facebook experience. It is more important to start taking your privacy and security into your own hands.

1. STOP Using a Weak Password
Avoid simple names or words you can find in a dictionary, even with numbers tacked on the end. Instead, mix upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. A password should have at least EIGHT (8) characters. One good technique is to insert numbers or symbols in the middle of a word, replace letters with numbers, or use the “Shift Right” technique.
Examples with the word “password”: pass3824word – pa55w0rd – [sddeptf
2. STOP Leaving Your Full Birth Date in Your Profile
It’s an ideal target for identity thieves, who could use it to obtain more information about you and potentially gain access to your bank or credit card account. If you’ve already entered a birth date, go to your profile page and click on the Info tab, then on Edit Information. Under the Basic Information section, choose to show only the month and day or no birthday at all.
3. STOP Overlooking Useful Privacy Controls
For almost everything in your Facebook profile, you can limit access to only your friends, friends of friends, or yourself. Restrict access to photos, birth date, religious views, and family information, among other things. You can give only certain people or groups access to items such as photos, or block particular people from seeing them. Consider leaving out contact info, such as phone number and address, since you probably don’t want anyone to have access to that information anyway. Use the Reclaim Privacy tool to assist you.
3. STOP Posting Your Child’s Name in a Caption
Don’t use a child’s name in photo tags or captions because ANYONE can see the information. If someone else does, delete it by clicking on Remove Tag. If your child isn’t on Facebook and someone includes his or her name in a caption, ask that person to remove the name. It may be best to not include you child’s names anywhere in your profile.
4. STOP Mentioning That You’ll Be Away From Home
That’s like putting a “no one’s home” sign on your door. Wait until you get home to tell everyone how awesome your vacation was and be vague about the date of any trip.
5. STOP Letting Search Engines Find You
To help prevent strangers from accessing your page, go to the Search section of Facebook’s privacy controls and select Only Friends for Facebook search results. Be sure the box for public search results isn’t checked.
6. STOP Permitting Young Children or Teenagers to Use Facebook Unsupervised
Facebook limits its members to ages 13 and over, but children younger than that do use it. If you have a young child or teenager on Facebook, the best way to provide oversight is to become one of their online friends. Use your e-mail address as the contact for their account so that you receive their notifications and monitor their activities. “What they think is nothing can actually be pretty serious,” says Charles Pavelites, a supervisory special agent at the Internet Crime Complaint Center. For example, a child who posts the comment “Mom will be home soon, I need to do the dishes” every day at the same time is revealing too much about the parents’ regular comings and goings.
8. STOP Reposting when it states to do so.
This is another form of chain letter.. not only that.. it creates a thread so other people on Facebook can access your profile.
Adapted from Consumer Reports via Yahoo Finance
  • 05/18/2010
  • IT

Reclaim Facebook Privacy

Facebook’s privacy settings are notoriously complex, and the results of changes hard to see instantly. ReclaimPrivacy.org has a handy bookmarklet that shows which potentially insecure and privacy-invading settings are enabled on your Facebook account when you click it.

ReclaimPrivacy’s bookmarklet focuses on just a few key areas where Facebook can share information with the public—having your contacts, connections, and tagged photos exposed to the public, as well as allowing your friends to accidentally expose that information themselves. It also looks at your relationship with Facebook’s personalization, applications, and other aspects to see what Facebook and independent developers can find out about you, then rates your exposure level in simple Good, Caution, or Insecure levels, along with offering links to change those settings.

reclaimprivacy.org

via lifehacker

  • 05/17/2010
  • IT
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