Safety online – for business and kids.

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As technology continues to improve, our safety, and the safety of our children in this digital age declines.  There are a number of things you should be aware of in how to practice safe surfing online.

Learning to identify safe sites is key.  When you do a search, your anti-virus protection should identify what links are safe to click on before you click on it.  Each program is different so I won’t go through the detail here, so you need to understand how your program identifies it. Usually some check mark beside each link so when you hover your mouse over it, a popup gives you details about that link.

When on a website, look at the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) ie. where it says http://www.google.ca/ or whatever website you are on.  (Above example blog.twinbytes.ca showing twinbytes.ca in bold because that is the actual website you are on even thought it doesn’t look like www.twinbytes.ca ) First of all, if you click a link in an email to your bank website, you’re probably already in trouble.  Your bank will almost never send you an email. (I used to be able to say the never send email, but with email money transfers now, I would be a liar).  But let’s say you click on a link to your bank, it’s most likely fake.  You can see an example of a bank hoax article I wrote here.  Anyway, once you are at the website, you can see the full URL might be something like in the bank hoax article.  If you click the link that says http://www.rbc.com/ but the link actually takes you to http://www.rbc.com.hoaxsite.com/ you can see that the first part says it is going to the correct website address, but it’s the last part before the first / that is important which says hoaxsite.com  Even though there is not www in front of it, it’s not necessary to type www to get to a website anymore.  Never login to your bank or any other website if you receive an email to do so, unless you are expecting this email at that time.  But even then, you need to be careful.  I once got an email that there was a problem with a package delivery I was expecting from www.purolator.com.hoaxsite.com/confirmationdelivery.htm but as you can see again, before the first / it’s going to some fake site rather than purolator which you might have guessed before reading this helpful article.

You should never receive an email from your bank, Facebook, shipping company, or other site saying that their is a problem with your account and you need to login to address the issue by clicking on the following link (and then they provide a link).  That link takes you to a fake website as we just talked about, so in general, the rule you may have heard and should have heard in the past about “not clicking on links from people you don’t know”, doesn’t hold all that much weight anymore.  Now even links from people and business you know can be fake.  Don’t click on a link unless you were expecting that email for that link, and even then, double check the link as discuss earlier.

Continuing from the above example, you may receive an email from your closest friend with a link to click on something saying you should check out this link either because it’s cool, can make you money, save you money or some other inviting wording.  I’ve seen it way to often and it’ all fake.  What you can do is reply to your friend asking if they really sent that email.  Chances are they may reply back saying “no, they did not send that message”.  It was a spoof and their email may have been compromised and they should change their password.

I could go on, but to wrap this up, one last thing is when searching for something online, be aware that if you type in something you are searching for, you might not actually get what you were expecting, and you might find yourself embarrassed as people around you see your screen filled with some pretty graphic pictures.  😉