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The Dangerous Internet and More

Just Being Connected Poses a Problem

The Internet is a dangerous place for just about anyone if you aren't very cautious and well protected. It is especially dangerous for children, even as old as 20. Some even older.

Just some of the things that can go wrong: Identity theft by way of a "drive by" download from a rogue Internet site, keylogger software that can steal your bank account information among other things malware that could eventually bring your entire system to a screeching halt, Internet predators could be after your children, company secrets and financial information could be disclosed to your competition by any number of problems. Your employees could be spending as much time on personal Internet use as they are on doing the work you're paying them for. The list goes on and if you're interested in more information you can use our contact page to send us an E-Mail or call.

How to protect yourself?
At work, do not let employees use their system as if it was theirs by having a good employee handbook that includes a good computer use policy.

Make use of the security policies available in Microsoft's server operating systems to restrict some of the changes employees tend to make to their systems.

Don't allow employees to install anything on their systems without the approval of the owner or manager, not software or hardware.

Restrict the use of external portable storage like flash drives. Your employee could walk off with all your customer data. (I have direct knowledge if 2 incidences just like this that wound up in court).

With the huge amounts of storage available on personal E-Mail accounts your staff could mail themselves everything they need to take your business away or at the minimum embarrass you. So restrict E-Mail use to the company's system and maintain a backup of the mail in case you need evidence in court. We've seen this problem 4 times in just the last couple years. It cost one of my customers 2 million dollars in lost business and $250,000 in legal expenses.

If you have an inside support staff, have someone with broad technical knowledge from outside your company perform a tech audit at least once a year to detect problems before they become a huge expense. (The inside technical people frequently don't get exposed to anything more than "your" systems and may miss something the outside support person could catch). The audit should cover security practices from password use to E-Mail use, to security patch procedures for your systems. No computer can go on forever without some periodic maintenance by someone who probably knows more than your employees think they know! Plenty of potential problems can be headed off before they become serious.

For the same reasons you should not allow an employee to use any E-Mail other than what is provided by the company, you also shouldn't allow any instant messaging software on any business system unless you have the use of IM monitoring by specialized software intended for that purpose.

If an employee signs up for something at a WEB site that ends up generating hundreds of SPAM messages, you might want to blame your weak computer use policies.

Especially for the home
Hide the Internet Explorer icons. Use something else, anything else!

Instant messaging software is dangerous. You have no history, it's almost impossible to monitor and it's prone to allowing intrusive software into your system. Your call!

Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing with only a very few exceptions is also a no-no. Allowing the P2P software to do what it does also allows almost anything downloaded to the system to bypass some of your security, it almost certainly will bypass your firewall if you have one. You told the firewall the P2P stuff was OK to be able to use it in the first place. You have no way of knowing what someone embedded in the software your children may be downloading from some unknown system somewhere in the world. Think about the possibilities. Scary! (Installation of instant messaging software is reason for immediate employment dismissal at some of our client's businesses).

Don't allow your employees to play Internet music on their systems. Each music stream consumes some of your Internet speed for the rest of the office and slows everything down. If the music is not legal you can be held liable. (It's your business, your computers and your employees). The law tends to make you responsible for not having control of the computer usage.

Don't forward chain E-Mail, particularly when it promises some benefit down the line. (Bill Gates does not have the ability to trace E-Mail and give everyone money). Before forwarding anything you think may be important check the validity on the Internet first. Snopes is a good place to start but there are other sites that debunk rumors and myths. There are several problems with forwarding this "crud". You actually contribute to clogging the Internet pipe. Your one or two messages may not seem like much but these have a snow ball effect and it ends up making the Internet servers slower. If you are an AOL user or it has passed through an AOL user's system, (AOL has a special and different way of handling mail), there are sometimes 30-50 E-Mail addresses on these forwarded messages that will eventually work there way to someone who has a trojan or worm on their system. If they use Outlook and the worm picks up those E-Mail addresses it can send itself or possibly some SPAM to everyone on the list.

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