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Public Service Announcement
When did you last back up the data
on your PC hard drive? Your
data is irreplaceable!
Zip drives are old and expensive, tape drives
are slow, CDs aren't stable in sunlight - they lose your data! - and memory sticks are
still too small. External hard drives are cheap, connect
to the USB port on any desktop or laptop PC - they're now under $100 for half a
terabyte of space.
Your time and data is worth far more!
Support Hoagies' Gifted
Your PC security is far too important to leave to chance. If you do,
chances are terrific that your PC contains viruses, trojans, adware, and spyware, and
that your PC is being used, without your knowledge, to send both viruses and
spam (unsolicited junk e-mail) to hundreds of thousands of people every month.
At the same time, your own work is slowed down, interrupted, and worse, your
private data is shared publicly, with people and companies you don't know,
including banking data, credit cards, and anything you have ever typed into or
read on the screen of your PC!
Mac and Linux users have far less to be concerned about. Spyware has
only begun reaching Mac users, but pay attention to the virus, phishing, firewall, instant
messenger, and privacy steps outlined below.
You may have noticed activity on your PC, but you just as easily may not have noticed.
Some spyware shows up as pop-up ads that appear seemingly at random.
Viruses may show up as unexpected error messages from your installed virus
protection software, or suddenly being unable to run certain programs on your
PC, often your virus program itself! But the majority of virus and spyware activity takes
place quietly, without your knowledge.
If this sounds scary, it should.
To protect yourself and your PC, follow these (free!) steps on your PC, and
every networked PC in your home. If you are dealing with a work PC, talk to your office
administrator or PC guru to be certain your office is protected by software in
every one of these categories: (in decreasing order of importance, but they're
And if you are in
Trouble with a capital T, before you do anything else, visit
Trend Micro Housecall, and run
their free-on-the-web virus and spyware scans right now, First.
If you think you're hearing about viruses and spyware everywhere...
you are. Protect yourself!
Install and run
Security Essentials anti-virus and
Run a full system scan at least weekly.
|You no longer need to purchase an anti-virus / anti-spyware
package; there is something better.
Security Essentials is a free package from Microsoft that is
more protective and less of a memory hog than any purchased solutions. Download and
install Microsoft Security Essentials. Microsoft Security
Essentials includes your anti-virus and anti-spyware program
(previously called Windows Defender), as well as a software
firewall. You don't need anything else!|
|Uninstall your current anti-virus or security suite, then
For extra protection, install and run an anti-spyware
You should not have any other memory-resident anti-spyware program,
Windows Security Essentials covers that. But you can run up to two more
anti-spyware scan programs regularly.
best free spyware scan is
Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware. Download and run this
|DO remember to Update the software (4th tab across the
top) before you run it each time. Better yet,
Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and let it update and run
automatically ← Recommended!|
|An older but equally good free scan is also good: SpyBot Search & Destroy www.safer-networking.org
These days, you should run Spybot scans regularly,
in addition to
|When you install Spybot Search & Destroy, do not
install or run the TeaTimer. Microsoft Security
Essentials has it's own memory-resident anti-spyware
protection, and TeaTimer may conflict with it.|
|When you run Spybot Search & Destroy, be certain to
your system. Delete everything Spybot detects. But do NOT
play with Spybot's "Advanced" mode unless you are VERY sure
you know what you're doing.|
|Install the Google
Toolbar (for Internet Explorer or Firefox). Skip down
to Google - it's for more than just
searching - it also offers pop-up protection!|
If you run Windows, make sure you install
available for your PC.
|If you run Windows XP, go to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com,
click Windows updates, and Scan for updates. |
|Windows Vista and Windows 7 users,
follow the directions to install the update engine.|
|Install ALL updates, recommended and optional. The bad guys loves
PCs without the Windows Updates installed... without having all the updates
installed, you leave open the back door into your computer!|
|Set your PC
to automatically install critical updates:|
|Run Control Panel, and double-click on the Security Center icon.
Make sure Automatic Updating is set to Yes.|
Turn on Wireless Router
|Following your manufacturer's instructions, configure
security on your wireless router. Be certain to note
and store safely both the pass-phrase and the wireless security
password / encryption key (long hex value). Choose the
highest level of encryption supported by all your devices
(probably 128-bit). Then carefully enter that number into
each of your laptop / wireless PCs. (Voice of experience: be
certain you have a wired PC connected to
the router before you turn on security - once you do, you will
lose access from your wireless devices until you type in the
security code... and you probably need to type it in twice.)|
|If you do not do this, you are allowing your neighbors as
well as passersby on the street, to connect to your network,
visit your PCs, and potentially conduct illegal / illicit
business through your connection to the Internet!
|Don't believe me? I visit my grandmother, who has
no computer, and sit in her dining room connected to the internet...
through the unsecured wireless router of someone in another
apartment; I don't know who. When our
cable went down at home, we never
lost Internet. Why? We connected through our neighbor's
wireless router. We chose not to examine the
neighbor's PC files, or print to her printer, but there was nothing to stop us!|
you have a Verizon FIOS network in your house? There are cell
phone / tablet apps to "generate" the default key for your
house... that is, for someone ELSE to generate the default key
that came with your router, and that you're likely USING! We
installed one of these apps on our phone, and quickly logged
into our neighbor's password protected FIOS network. I kid you
NOT! Change your new FIOS network key immediately!|
you are on a high speed connection (cable or DSL), you
MUST have a hardware firewall. Windows Firewall is NOT
enough. Purchase and install a router or wireless router
with built-in firewall - most do - or make sure the router that
your service provider rents to you has a hardware firewall built
|High speed connections are on ALL the TIME. That
means that any time your PC is on, bad guys can come in across that fixed
connection and access your PC. Hardware firewalls, built into
your (wired or wireless) router, are best, and home gateway routers are cheap: after
rebates (and sometimes before!) they run around $40-80. |
|Enable your Windows software firewall. It is
not necessary nor advised to use a third-party firewall program
unless you are an expert and know exactly what you are
doing. Third party firewalls tend to serve one of two
functions: to block your normal access to the internet
completely, or to make you feel protected when you are totally
vulnerable and unprotected.|
The safest way to browse?
you use Internet Explorer (IE) but it is really slow,
consider disabling the IE "phishing filter." But remember to
never, never respond to an unsolicited e-mail from
anyone you do business with - your bank, your eBay account, your
PayPal account, etc.|
|From the File Menu of IE, click on Tools, Internet Options.
Then click on the last tab, Advanced. Scroll down to the
Security settings, and locate the buttons for Phishing Filter.
Click on the Disable Phishing Filter button. This will
speed up page loading in Internet Explorer dramatically.|
|Another option is
Privacy & Security Add-ons recommended by and for Firefox;
Adblock Plus and NoScript come highly recommended, to "remove
ads and banners," and to "Allow active content to run only from
sites you trust, and protect yourself against XSS,
quick browsing, try Google
|Really quick page loads|
|Don't be surprised if Microsoft websites still pop up in Internet
Explorer... Microsoft tends to ignore the "default" setting, and uses IE
regardless of your default browser setting.|
is still an e-mail threat.
|Phishing is a nasty, and very common, form of identity theft by
computer. And Phishing is a platform-independent threat - Mac
users are NOT safe, either. Phishing is when you get an
unsolicited e-mail from a company you do business with (or one you
don't) asking you to click on a link to update your personal
information. Once you visit their site, you are prompted for
your name, id, password, credit card, and perhaps much more.
Your social security number can give the thieves total access to your
credit identity. Whatever you do, NEVER answer an unsolicited
e-mail asking you to click and "update your information."
|Phishermen can be VERY persuasive. Their e-mails can suck
you in with words about how your identity has been compromised, and
you must click to restore it, or how there's been excessive activity
on your account, or your account is being closed if you don't click.|
|Whatever you do, DO NOT CLICK! If the
e-mail purports to be from your bank, your eBay account, etc.,
visit your bank, eBay, whomever's site directly (don't click!)
and log in. If there's a message for you, they'll tell you
Phishing / Spyware by popup
- a new style of an old trick.
|Phishermen are now sending popup windows to appear under (or
over) your browser windows. Previously only innocuous
advertisements, these popups are now often contain spyware to be
installed, or phishing notices to be filled out.|
|Whatever you do, DO NOT CLICK anywhere
on the popup. Just because a
buttons says "Cancel" or "No, thanks" does not mean that is what it
will do! A "Cancel" button can install the malware just as
easily as an "Install" button.|
|Old advice: ONLY use the red X in the upper right corner of the title
bar to close the popup.|
safer advice: do NOT use the red X in the upper right corner to
close the popup. Apparently malware programmers are starting
to reprogram the red X for their own purposes (to install malware).
Instead, press <Ctrl><Alt><Del> and bring up the Task Manager.
Click on the Applications tab, and select the task name of the
popup, and then click "End Task." This is the only truly safe
way to shut down a popup window.|
|If you start getting messages on your status bar (little
icons in the lower right) about your security, DO NOT CLICK.
Instead, download and run both Anti-Spyware
scan programs MalwareBytes and Spybot Search & Destroy from
above to clean up your PC.|
Google Toolbar (for Internet Explorer and
FireFox only, built into Google Chrome).
Google Toolbar includes an excellent pop-up blocker - should be run by everyone not
running Windows XP Service Pack 2 for pop-up blocking. Also
offers great 'net and site searching features - great tool for
Download and install
for Internet Explorer (IE) or
FireFox. You'll have a new toolbar on the top of your IE window, and you'll
never get pop-ups again (unless you want them - click on the wrench to
change your configuration settings). Google Toolbar also includes a "site search" option
- click the wrench, and select Options, Buttons, Search Site to have
that button always appear on your Toolbar.
you're visiting Google, set your
While most of us need not change our language, families may wish to
change Google's default SafeSearch settings. SafeSearch by
default uses moderate filtering; update this to strict filtering to
filter both explicit text and images from appearing in Google search
results on your PC.
If you run AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), consider switching to
the all-inclusive Instant Messenger programs
GAIM. Check regularly
for security updates!
Instant Messenger programs can punch holes in your firewall
without you knowing it. And there are a variety of these
programs. Instead of running all of AIM, and Yahoo, and
Microsoft messenger programs, consider running a single program that
handles all your Instant Messenger accounts and is more secure, too.
The free versions of these programs are plenty for everyday use.
from Cerulean Studios -
this product replaces ALL your instant messaging software, including
AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk, MSN, IRC, ICQ and even Facebook in one neat package.
instant messaging (IM) client for Linux, BSD, MacOS X, and Windows,
compatible with AIM and ICQ (Oscar protocol), MSN Messenger, Yahoo!,
IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, SILC, GroupWise Messenger, and Zephyr.|
Privacy is your
|Want to find
out what can be learned about you on the Internet, and where? Search
on yourself at www.ZoomInfo.com and
www.Naymz.com - you
will be surprised what you find!|
|You can even
find out about your home on the Internet. Neighborhood values for the
whole country are posted at www.zillow.com,
some more accurate than others...|
www.ZabaSearch.com to see more
details about yourself. Snopes.com
seems unconvinced that there's any way to remove personal information from
this information aggregator
|Do not click on links in unsolicited e-mails (see
Phishing above). Be careful; these are
getting more and more elaborate!|
|Do not give out your e-mail with product warranty information;
these do not affect your warranty, but do put you on junk-mailing
|Search on your own name regularly - you may be surprised what
you find. Talk to the sites that have you listed, and remove
your personal information from display on the web. Set up a
Google Alert on your name, and
each of your husband and children's names, to get new information as it's
posted about you.|
|Repeat the search with
your address, and then your phone number - in Google's reverse phone
directly, you can opt to remove yourself (it appears this must be
|If you subscribe to any Yahoo groups (mailing lists) or use
Yahoo e-mail or Yahoo messenger, opt out of Yahoo's
third party marketing:|
|Go to Yahoo Groups, and
click on My Account|
|About halfway down the page, click on Edit your marketing
|About halfway down that page, under Special offers from
selected third parties delivered by Yahoo!, uncheck all marketing
you do not wish to receive - these are all invitations to sell your
name and e-mail address to third party advertisers, in other words,
|Next, go to
Yahoo Off-Network Preferences|
|click on Web Beacons, and click Opt-Out to opt out of Yahoo's
Web Beacon tracking|
|click on Yahoo! Cookies, and click Opt-Out to opt out of Yahoo's
|Also in Yahoo groups, change your e-mail preferences. Click on
My Groups, and then Email Preferences.
Make sure that each e-mail address has both "Allow Direct Adds" and
"Allow Invitations" are set to No. If they are not set to No,
click Edit and change the settings to No.|
|Teach your children NEVER to give their name, address, school
(town, team colors, mascot, etc.),
even their age out over the Internet - little details can add up
to paint a very accurate picture of where you live and who you are, even without a name.|
|Add your home and mobile phone numbers to the national Do Not
Call registry. Visit www.donotcall.gov and follow the directions for both your home
and cell phone numbers - it's not clear how our cell phone numbers
will be affected by the coming-soon cell phone 411 service, but
registering your cell phone numbers, too, won't hurt. You must
reenroll in the Do Not
Call registry every 5 years - if you signed up when it first
became available, it's time to sign up again! |
|Want to find someone who's been invading your privacy?
IP Address Tracking Program
allows you to find out where someone is coming from, just by entering the IP
address of their posts from the headers of their e-mail.|
people on the internet may not be what they appear. For a very
frightening view, read
The Trolls Among Us|
So many of us are joining social networking sites, and Facebook seems the frontrunner
in the gifted community. But how can we protect our personal privacy and still
participate and share our friendship in these social networking communities?
Reign in your settings!
|For Facebook and every social networking community you use including
professional communities, MySpace, Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn... read and heed How
Privacy Vanishes Online by Steve Lohr in
The New York Times.|
Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know|
|Turn Settings: Privacy: Profile settings to Friends Only, or Friends of
Friends, to prevent the general public from seeing your postings.|
|Turn off Settings: Privacy: Public Search Listing, and
limit Search Discovery within Facebook if you'd prefer. Control how
much folks who aren't your friends yet can see about you.|
|Adjust the Settings: Applications settings for applications you've
allowed and those that "came free with" Facebook, including Notes and
Photos. This is a bit tedious, requiring individual changes for each
application. But it's also very powerful. For each application
you can select Wall settings (I use "Prompt me..." for many of my
applications) and then Profile settings. Here you can set the privacy
level for each application. Customize allows you to select groups of
friends who can or cannot see wall postings from this individual
application. Allow your best buddies to see your cutsie applications,
while limiting your professional friends to seeing only your notes and
photos, for example.|
Protecting the PC does protect our children from much of the danger of
the Internet. And the value of the Internet is huge, so not allowing
Internet access to the children isn't a reasonable option. But how can we
keep them safe, and protect them from bad content and predators?
|Many people use some form of internet browsing filtering,
CyberPatrol and others.
These are the top three Internet filtering products in reviews of function
and usability - if you're going to use one, use one of these. Generally, browser
filtering solutions fall into two categories: inclusive and exclusive. Inclusive software
allows the user to visit sites included on it's "list." Many
perfectly good sites are rejected by inclusive software, for reasons that
may not appeal to you, as a parent. AOL's child-safe setting works
similarly, and AOL has been known to block sites like Hoagies' Kids & Teens for
having "too many links." While it makes sense that it's tough to
constantly monitor a site that has many external links, this kind of policy prevents
kids from many using wonderful and well-maintained collections of safe kids'
links on the internet.
Exclusive protection software prevents the user only from visiting sites
it's "list." The inherent flaw in either approach is that many sites
are not what they first appear to be. A new porn site may use an
innocuous site title and description, that initially fools exclusive
software into permitting it. And with either inclusive or exclusive
protection software, your protection is only as good as the last update of
the master "list." You must be responsible for making sure that the
latest list is downloaded to your PC, or if the software does the download
automatically by subscription, that your subscription remains current.
And they are only as good as the "list" itself. What they find
objectionable, you may not, or conversely, you may prefer stricter
standards. But you have little or no control of the "list."
By the time the gifted child reaches middle school age, most have
exceeded the useful life of such electronic babysitters. The research
they are doing for school may require access to more "excluded"
topics or sites, such as the teen doing research on cancer, including breast
cancer... but of course, any search result including the term "breast" is blocked.
Many kids of this age are more familiar with the PC than we are, and have
found ways around the protection software anyway. Or kids
access the questionable content at their friend's house, where there is no
protection software running.
NEVER use a browsing filter that promises to be an all-in-one
internet security suite. No software does both jobs well!
|For all these reasons, most experts recommend supervision, rather
than a programmatic solution, to watch our kids' PC and Internet usage.
Keep the PC in a "public" area of your home, such as the kitchen or family
room, where you can glance over the child's shoulder to see what she's
doing. Talk about the potentially bad content, and how it sometimes
comes up accidentally, and encourage them to surf smart, by reading the
short description of a page on a search engine before clicking on it, and by
backing out - and telling you - when they do accidentally encounter bad
|Encourage young children to use a child-safe browser such as
Ask for Kids, or set the strict
for Google searches on your PC.|
|Every browser has a History button, that allows you to view the
history of the visits made on this browser. Of course, the child might
delete history, but our house rule is, if you delete your history, you lose
your computer access. And mom checks history randomly... whenever the
mood strikes me, or more likely, when I need to update FireFox, Windows,
AdAware, etc. (all described above). If the child does delete their
history, there are still very easy ways (even for computer novice parents)
to check where they've been visiting. Use your File Explorer to check
the filenames and dates on their temporary internet files. This will
tell you where and when they visited websites.|
|For teens, read Katherine Tarbox's true story with your
teen. It's the story of her internet involvement, and eventually
real-life meeting, with an Internet predator. Originally published as
Katie.com, it's been re-released as
A Girl's Life Online. Although some call it "sensationalism,"
Katie's own words resonate with teens, and are a firm warning of the danger, and
how a situation can seem so real when it's not.|
|Talk with your kids about Facebook and other social networks.
Encourage them to use gifted-friendly forums instead, to talk to other
teens, such as Sheroes (mostly teen girls though there are a few boys,
supervised) and Haven (teen boys and girls). See
Gifted Mailing Lists, Message Boards, Blogs
for links to Sheroes and Haven. If they use LiveJournal, encourage
them to set all their posts to "friends only" and to only include people they
know IRL (In Real Life) as their friends, so strangers can't read what
|Turn on spam filtering for kids (and your own) e-mail accounts.
It's easier not to get into trouble, if the links to trouble aren't arriving
right in your inbox! The instructions for this vary by e-mail
provider; contact your ISP or e-mail provider for more information.|
|Note that Internet Service Providers such as Comcast are becoming so
strict in their spam filtering that your private e-mail may be deleted
before you receive it. You may need to turn off spam filtering to
receive your e-mail. An on-line e-mail account such as
GMail will trap spam, yet still allow
you to review and reclassify the spam if it's appropriate. |
|Limit hours spent on PC / Internet. If you have broadband
Internet access (Cable, DSL, Satellite or FIOS), you have a broadband router. In the same place that
you configured Wireless Router Security, you can
configure your router to deny Internet access to specific PCs during
certain times of the day. Our router is set to block the kids' PC access from
p.m. to 5 a.m. Early morning homework is fine... after 5 a.m.
Late night homework needs to be done by 10:30, or done on Mom's PC.
These settings work well for our teens; you might want
different settings. Parents of home-alone kids might want to restrict
There is a catch: you need to know the PC's MAC
address. This sounds scary, but it doesn't need to be.
Just go to the PC you want to limit access to, and follow these steps: 1)
click Start, and click Run. 2) type CMD and
press <enter> to get a command window (an old-fashioned DOS window).
In the command window, type ipconfig /all,
and press <enter> (the space between ipconfig and the slash is important -
be sure to type it). You'll get a list of stuff, but the item you need
is the Physical Address - a set of 6 pairs of
hex numbers. Write the Physical Address
down. Then go to your router's configuration page (see your router's
instruction manual, router configuration is usually reached by pointing your
browser at http://192.168.1.1 or something
similar) and click on Access Restrictions. Here you can set rules to
restrict Internet access by time, then add the MAC
address (Physical Address) to the List
of PCs affected by these rules. We setup two rules; one for weekdays,
and one for weekends.
If you're not on broadband, or prefer not to use your router settings, many
internet browser filtering solutions offer time limits as well.
Teach the children well!
Our parents taught us how to answer the phone safely, and not to let
strangers into the house when they weren't home. Today, the perils are
different. We need to teach our kids how to safely use e-mail, websites and
Visit Gifted Children as Digital Citizens
for great resources on teaching our gifted kids 'netiquette'!
Protect yourself against
plagiarizing! Think your articles are safely yours,
copyrighted, and posted on your website, or mine? So did I, but I was
wrong. And it's not just the "bad guys" - there are two copies of my
Gifted 101: A Guide for First Time Visitors article
out there, on a school website's gifted identification page, and on a gifted
teacher's FAQ page. It's not just a line or two that's copied, or a simple
description of the Hoagies' Gifted Education Page. Neither of the pages
actually link back to Hoagies' Page at all! These folks are professional
educators! I'm certain they don't want their students to plagiarize the
work they hand in, but...
|Copyscape allows you to search
for copies of your page on the Web. Just type in the URL of the
article you're checking, and Copyscape will return a short list of pages
with identical pieces of your content. The free version isn't great if
your article contains a popular book title, or popular quote, as some of
Hoagies' Pages do. But it's great for articles - text - and if you
need more careful service, they offer a premium service with automatic
monitoring and plagiarism case tracking, for a charge.|
Counter-Plagiarism Handbook offers detailed instructions for writers and
editors, on how to prevent and deal with plagiarizism.|
October 23, 2012