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Online Security & Safety Tips

FCIC: Online Security & Safety Tips

The National Cyber Security Alliance presents

Online Security & Safety Tips

National Cyber Security Alliance

With Support Provided by Microsoft

Reviewed by the Federal Citizen Information Center


We have all come to enjoy and rely upon the Internet to learn, work and play. But the same qualities that make the online world so enriching can also make us more vulnerable to criminal hackers who seek to do harm.

Just as you take precauions to keep your home safe from burglars, there are steps you can take to help protect you personal computer (PC) and yourself from cyber criminals.

Here are three steps you can take to make your computer more secure:

1. Use an Internet firewall

2. Get computer updates

3. Use up-to-date anti-virus software

Use an Internet firewall

A firewall is software that helps create a protective barrier between your computer and potentially harmful attacks. Many businesses have firewalls built into their networks, but home users should install firewall software if it was not included in the software package that came with their PC.

Even with the protection of a firewall, it's smart to back up your files on a regular basis to protect them in case your system does get damaged. Copy your important documents and files onto a floppy disk or a CD for safekeeping.

Get computer updates.

No matter what software you use, you need to make sure your computer is protected by installing the latest security updates. Security updates help shield your computer from viruses, worms and other threats as they are discovered.

Check your software maker's Web site for new security updates or use the automated updating features that some companies offer.

Use anti-virus software.

Viruses, worms and other forms of malicious code pose a real threat to your computer, so you need to help defend it by using anti-virus software.

New viruses and worms are emerging all the time, so anti-virus programs need regular updates so they can recognize the new threats.

The more often your anti-virus software is updated the better. Sign up for regular updates from your anti-virus software company.

Other online safety tips.

Following are a few other general tips to help avoid online threats such as spam, spyware, identity theft and inappropriate content.

  • Protect your information by using a hard to guess password that is at least eight characters long and contains a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Reduce spam by only giving out your e-mail address to people you know and by never replying to spam - not even to unsubscribe.
  • Be careful about opening attachments to e-mails as they are one of the main ways viruses are spread from computer to computer.
  • Be wary of any e-mail asking for personal information; for example, check to make sure a charity is legitimate before responding to an e-mail solicitation for donations.
  • If you have kids that use your computer, consider using parental control software that helps you choose what they see on the Internet.
  • To help prevent spyware from being installed on your computer, read the installation agreements carefully when you download from the Internet. If you find you already have it on your system, there are anti-spyware tools available to remove it.

Dear friends.

At Microsoft, helping keep our customers safe from cyber criminals is a top priority. Because there is no single solution to prevent cyber attacks, our approach includes developing improved technology, partnering with our industry peers to increase public awareness, supporting law enforcement efforts to bring cyber criminals to justice, and working with lawmakers to develop effective policies. We are proud to support the National Cyber Security Alliance, which does so much to help consumers stay safe online through their Web site (

By using the safety tips in this guide, you too are playing a vital part to secure not only your own system but the broader computing environment as well. There are tools available to help you - check out the links listed on the back of this guide.

If all of us - industry, government and consumers - do our part, we can look forward to a more secure computing experience.

Steven A. Ballmer
CEO, Microsoft Corporation

Resource guide

There are many great sources of safety and security information on the Internet, Please check the Web Sites of the National Cyber Sercurity Alliance's members and other organizations for more information:

General Information:

Microsoft (
GetNetWise (
Federal Trade Commission (
United States Computer Emergency Rediness Team (

For updates:

Microsoft (

Security tips:


Firewall software resources:

Internet Security Systems (
McAfee (
Symantec (
Techguard Security (
Tumbleweed (
ZoneLabs (

Anti-virus software resources:

McAfee (
Symantec (
Tumbleweed (

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