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November 9, 2013

Locking down your online messages, Part 2

NORMAN — Last week we looked at Steps 1 through 5 on how normal computer users can protect themselves against Internet criminals who use online messaging systems such as email. This week, we continue with Steps 5 to 7.

5) Having a good antivirus program installed and running is required to achieve any level of Internet messaging safety. Avast Antivirus is now the number one free antivirus program rated by Consumer Reports. Last year, when Avira Antivirus was number one, Avast was number two. This year, Avira is number two. Either way, they are both good programs. Get one and use it. Visit my website and read my 4-21-13 column titled, “Basic Antivirus Rules,” for more thorough information.

6) It is a good idea to periodically get rid of things like temporary files and “cookies.” My favorite tool for handling these chores is a free program called Ccleaner (not “CC” Cleaner, as some people have been tricked into installing). For complete instructions on how to use Ccleaner, read my two columns on the subject from January 2012.

7) Limit what you say on the Internet. This is especially true for social networking sites like Facebook. They simply are not safe places to list all the personal details of your life.

If your Facebook friends are truly your friends, then they already know your birthday, place of employment, spouse’s name, street address, email address, phone number, the names of your children, what kind of car you drive, etc. There is no need to put this information on Facebook.

Even more dangerous is when parents not only post pictures and the names of their children on Facebook, but also reveal their birth dates, where they attend school, where they go to day care, the names of their friends and teachers, the name of their doctor, and so forth. Facebook is not a safe place for a child’s personal information.

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