The Norman Transcript

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October 6, 2013

If the world could access your computer life, would that be bad?

NORMAN — As much as they should know better, from time to time, I still hear people say, “Why, I don’t care if anyone sees what’s on my computer. I don’t keep anything important there, so what do I care?”

This reminds me of a fellow who once proudly declared to me, “I’m safe, because I don’t do online banking. All I ever do is login, check my balance and then log right back out.”

He then looked at me with a defiant, self-assured grin, as if he was daring me to find something wrong with his online banking “safety” scheme. He believed that if he wasn’t actively engaged in money-moving transactions and all he ever did was login to check his balance, that meant he didn’t “do” online banking.

One thing these attitudes are missing in regard to computer and Internet safety is that it doesn’t much matter what information you store on your computer.

What you do with your computer is often more valuable to cybercriminals than what you store on your computer. These days, the bad guys can mess you over more with the information you send across the Internet rather than what you store, or “save,” on your computer’s hard drive.

“I never send anything important across the Internet,” you might think. “I never put anything important in an email.” While never sending emails that contain sensitive, personal data may be a good security policy, that wouldn’t let you off the hook by a long shot.

What do you think happens every time you sign in to your email account? You say you’re not sure? Read on.

Every time you sign in or log on to any Internet-based account — be it email, banking, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, etc. — you are sending your sign-in information (user I.D. and password) to numerous places in the blink of an eye.

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