Internet Safety Guide
Keeping yourself and your children safe on the internet need not be difficult! Our guide to internet safety will show you how. These days, internet safety and content filtering is a lucrative industry. There was a time when computing was a largely solitary experience. Computers sat in homes or offices and programs were purchased from stores. Data was saved to hard drives and floppy disks. In those times before the internet became part of everyone’s daily routine, home computing was much safer, if perhaps not as exciting. In modern times, thanks to the web and instant messaging, our computers can connect us to all kinds of people and ideas, all over the world.
The world at your fingertips
Having such a vast repository of information available to us 24/7 is one of the wonders of the modern age. Almost any trivial question or problem can be solved by simply “looking it up on the internet”. While determining the quality of the information available on the world wide web is sometimes difficult, there can be little doubt that its value as a reference library is immense. For the first time in history almost anyone can publish their work to a medium that is accessible to millions of people all around the world.
Of course, not all the information on the internet is suitable for everyone. Children, who are naturally curious and sociable are particularly at risk. Pornographers have found the internet to be a superb distribution medium and as such it is extremely easy to encounter pornography on-line. Children who use instant messaging or social networking sites like Myspace or Bebo are also at risk from sexual predators, fraudsters and fanatics who would seek to exploit them. While the media often exaggerates the dangers they are nevertheless very real and internet safety is something responsible parents cannot afford to ignore.
Even as adults, it pays to be cautious when using the internet. So called ‘phishing’ scams are on the increase. These scams involve setting up a phoney copy of a regular website (such as your banks website, or perhaps E-Bay or Paypal) and then sending out links encouraging users to visit these sites and enter their login credentials. The users are then told that they cannot login, or perhaps redirected to the real version of the site. The criminals now have their login details and can access the victims bank account or other sensitive information at any time they please. More sophisticated criminals exploit vulnerabilities in older versions of Internet Explorer or Firefox to automatically install malicious software on your PC. Like we’ve said before, make sure your computer, web browser and antivirus software is up to date!
Making your PC and internet connection safer
Before you consider taking steps to filter out unwanted content on the web, you should read our guides to dealing with Computer Viruses and Spyware. While using internet security software such as this can go a long way to making your PC more secure, if you have children who regularly use the internet, you may wish to consider implementing a few internet safety procedures too. At Top-Windows-Tutorials, we know how to look after computers, not children, so we’ll leave it to you to decide what is best for you and your family. However, we do believe that one of the most effective methods of keeping tabs on your children’s internet usage is to place the computer in the living room or family room, where you and the rest of the family can keep an eye on it. If that does not go far enough for you, there are a few other options that we’ll explore now
Use limited user accounts for your children, and for yourself when you surf the web
Limited user accounts allow a user to load and run their favourite programs but they don’t allow for changes to be made to the system. This means that most software cannot be installed without the help of someone with an administrators account. There are several benefits to this. Firstly, it makes it much harder for malicious software to install itself on your computer without your permission, even where a vulnerability exists in your web browser. Secondly, your children cannot install software without your permission, which can stop them downloading and using chat-room software or the latest online game without your consent. It also makes it much harder for your web-savvy children to bypass any filtering software or services you choose to install. Tutorials which cover configuring limited user accounts are now available on our online safety tutorials page.
Use filtering software or services to restrict access to unsuitable websites
There are several commercially available content filters and internet safety tools available for Windows, as well as some services that can be configured to work with Windows. The most effective content filter we tested was Optenet. We were also impressed with the service offered by OpenDNS which offers free content filtering that works without any impact on your internet connection or your PC. Tutorials for OpenDNS are now available on our online safety tutorials page.
We hope you’ve found our introductory guide to internet safety to be useful and informative. Head on over to our online safety tutorials page for tips and techniques for keeping your family safe online.
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