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Guide to Internet Security and Safety

June 28, 2005

This Guide to Internet Security and Safety is written by our NHU staff for our Access Technology Initiative Computer Training and Workshops.

What you will learn

Internet Security

On the Internet we can connect our home or office computer to the Internet and contact our bank or a company and perform a remote transaction. To ensure that this remote transaction is secure, that no one can read the transaction, obtain it or change it as it bounces through various computers on the Internet, one must follow certain steps.

Remote transactions

Establish a secure connection. If you are using an Internet browser a small closed lock will appear in the window of the browser. To establish a secure connection you will often have to do use the following:

Computer Viruses

Computer viruses are designed by computer programmers to do a certain unwanted, annoying, destructive function to your computer's programs and files that can cause your computer to stop working, change your desktop settings or reassign file extensions.

A computer gets a virus from an infected file on a CD or floppy disk, an email attachment, a download from the Internet.

You cannot get a virus from a plain email message or from a simple text file. A virus needs to run before it can take effect so it infects a pc when the user tries to open and infect.

It is possible for a programmer to attempt to spread a virus by building a virus script into an html type of email message.

There are also fake virus warnings called hoaxes that cause people to take unnecessary steps to avoid a virus. A legitimate warning will provide a link to a website of an anti-virus company with more information about the virus. Check out whether the virus is legitimate before deleting files.

Anti-virus program

Check scripts on Internet sites or email from unknown senders with an anti-virus program. An anti-virus program checks your computer for the virus and repairs damaged files or deletes files that are infected with viruses. You may have to replace infected files than cannot be repaired.

When you purchase an anti-virus program you also purchase the periodic updates that keeps your program up-to-date on new viruses. A program can be customized as to when and how the program will check the computer for viruses. Update your software once or twice a week.

Check all disks with your anti-virus program as well as your computer.

If you have to reload your computer programs, use the original program disks. You may want to check your original disks before reinstalling the software. If the original disks are infected contact the distributor to get them replaced.

In addition protect against viruses by:


A firewall is used to protect private information. If you have business, financial or account information on your computer, you may want to protect your files. If you have a high-speed Internet connection such as cable or DSL modems, your computer is "always on". Your computer is more accessible to hackers. A firewall prevents unauthorized access to or from your system. Research firewall manufacturers on-line.


To protect your computer, accounts, programs and files use passwords.

Change passwords periodically or if you notice any change in your account.

Passwords should be comprised of letters and numbers, some case sensitive and at least eight to ten characters long for greater security.

Memorize your passwords.

Don't use well-known abbreviations, numbers or names that are easily traced to you, actual words, your user name or the same password for different accounts.

Create a password based on a phrase using intermittent letters and numbers. Memorize it.


The Internet can certainly be intimidating to new users. However, you will find that with the proper knowledge, the Internet can offer you many opportunities and much information. It is important that you properly evaluate your sources of information for reliability. Following are a few things to keep in mind while searching the Internet:

Safe Shopping on the Internet

The convenience of shopping online is undeniable, with online companies offering anything from gifts to groceries to furniture for purchase. Such convenience has made shopping online very popular, an everyday activity for some individuals.

While the majority of companies found online are legitimate, there are the few that are not. While we encourage you to discover the convenience of shopping online, it is important that you take precaution, before you ring that sale.

Following are a few online shopping tips:

If you have questions or ideas, information and solutions that you would like to share with us, contact us by e-mail at: horizons@new-horizons.org or to use our NHU E-Mail Form or NHU Community Forum, click the links below.

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© Copyright 2005, New Horizons Un-Limited Inc.
[Updated July 31, 2005]
NHU has no liability for content or goods on the Internet.