Part 3: The Internet, Firewalls, and Social Media at Large!

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Ah the Internet! Full of dark corners and interesting recesses! Everywhere you look there is something of interest for everyone. Who would have thought ten years ago how much Social Media was going to change our lives!

Firstly I want to completely dispel any notions that you may have about retaining any real sense of privacy in our modern world. I really need to do this because people need to make informed decisions and take the right steps for themselves.

If you pride yourself on being “Offline” and therefore safe from the modern world and other evils, you are a fool! Let’s take banking as an example. Do you REALLY think your bank has two databases? One for the people that will not move online and those that are fully online? Do you actually believe that they would go to the extraordinary lengths to maintain two separate databases?

Well I can assure you that banks were online long before YOU were online. The Auto bank teller was the first wave of “online” steps to emerge decades ago. The difference now is that slowly people have moved online too. So if you do not bank online, your accounts are just as much online as anyone else’s. Why not make use of the afforded practicality of banking online?

So your life is online and well documented through banks, government departments, identity documents, car and property registrations, tax departments, and the list is endless! Scary but true. Convenience has its price like everything else.

So now that you are aware of what you cannot control – short of dropping off the map into a scarce jungle without your credit card – what can you control? You can control what you say and write! Think before you post! In other humorous words, DO NOT DRINK AND POST ON FACEBOOK!

If there is something you do not want the world to know then do not talk about it online or in any written form. That includes Facebook. If you don’t want to look like a fool then don’t post foolish comments publicly. It’s that simple.

While the Internet is made up of the people who inhabit it, you are a visitor. If you don’t like something or a site, request changes, publicly if need be or leave. You do not OWN your Social Media profiles. You are an administrator on your profile and the site belongs to the owners. It is that simple.

When you “share” something then it is shared! You can “unshared” it of course but it has already reached the “Out There” already! So don’t share it until you are sure you want it shared.

I’m going to touch on security as how it impacts your privacy and the infamous and widespread “hacking” panic. Do you need to worry? No, you need to take some precautions. How do I know if I need additional security? Chances are that you really don’t!

You should have an antivirus program running at all times and it MUST be updated on a daily basis. This is not an optional thing in our day and age. Having said that, I can probably count on my hands how many times I have had a bad virus on my PC. 99% of those infections were either with full knowledge I was taking a risk (I’m terribly curious) or I was poking about in risky areas of the Internet! Perhaps I should also state I’ve been online for possibly more than 15 years! That is a pretty low viral count is it not? Why is that you may wonder considering I don’t even have a firewall active?

The answer is simple. I’ve been on Computers for nearly 20 years so I know what to look for when things are “Infected”! I also have an antivirus program that is updated daily. That’s it!

No firewall? Yikes! Am I a risk taker? No not really. As I wrote before, my life is not that interesting that a Hacker will target my PC. The average reader of this blog isn’t either. Sorry to disappoint you but unless you are a celebrity, you have nothing on your hard drive that is of interest or cannot be located on the Internet!

In short, hackers generally gain access to a PC or a server through an IP address. Unless you are chatting online on systems that Hackers can trace your IP address on, you are safe. Many years ago on the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) it was a favourite pastime for nerdy types to try to get control of a person’s computer or at least force your modem to disconnect. These days most of these ways of entertainment has been removed from most chatty things!

Another factor is that most people do not have the same IP address every time they are online. Even if you stay online permanently at some point your port will be reset and you will be assigned a new IP. So don’t worry so much about these feared “Hackers”. They are really interested in a challenge and not your badly lit partner’s underwear photographs you took last night.

You do however now need to be vigilant as to new ways that scammers get your details. Rule of thumb here, if you wouldn’t disclose something to a stranger in person then don’t do so online in any manner.
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