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How can I protect my information online?

Online Security and Safety

Accessing the Internet through a broadband or high-speed connection at home can enhance the online experience. However, the speed at which information can be transferred to and from your computer and the fact that it stays connected to the Internet for long periods of time makes it a more likely target for hackers than dial-up Internet users. By taking some basic precautions and using a few simple tools, you can protect your computer and your information from theft, misuse and destruction.

Common Online Threats 
Malware is short for "malicious software." Criminals can use malware to steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud. OnGuardOnline.gov provides tips on how to secure your computer and protect yourself fromInternet fraud. They also provide a glossary of Internet-related terms that include common forms of malware such as:

  • Spyware - A software program that may be installed on your computer without your consent to monitor your use, send pop-up ads, redirect your computer to certain websites, or record keystrokes, which could lead to identity theft.
  • Virus - A program that can sneak onto your computer-- often through an e-mail attachment-- and then make copies of itself, quickly using up all available memory.
  • Trojans - Programs that, when installed on your computer, enable unauthorized people to access it and sometimes to send spam from it.
  • Worm - A program that reproduces itself over a network and can use up your computer's resources and possibly shut your system down.
  • Please note: Public reports are indicating a widespread infection a worm called the Conficker/Downadup worm. You may wish to view information from US-CERT about how to scan for and remove the Conficker/Downadup worm.

    Resources for Protecting Your Privacy and Security

    Where to Report Internet Fraud and Internet-Related Crime 
    If you are a victim of Internet fraud, you may notify federal law enforcement through the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at their website, IC3.gov. The IC3 evaluates every complaint, and then refers it to the appropriate local, state, or federal agency. Once the IC3 refers a complaint to the appropriate agency, it may be assigned to an investigator. However, they cannot guarantee that your complaint will be investigated.

    There are several other sources to visit for information on how to report Internet-related issues:

    October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, designated to bring attention to the importance of protecting yourself, your family and your information online. You may wish to view the Presidential proclamation for 2009.

    by usa.gov team