Thursday, January 20, 2011

Computer safety tips for victims

Online security is important for everyone. Victims of domestic violence frequently have concerns about personal safety. One area that is sometimes overlooked is the area of cyber security.

We are not just talking about key logger programs or viruses (although those can certainly be part of the problem.). We’re also talking about the ability to keep passwords safe and email secure.

Firewalls and anti-virus software are critical. For these to function effectively they must be updated regularly. It is important to choose programs that will update automatically. Not everyone can remember to download software updates.

In addition to a good virus program there are other things that victims of domestic violence can do to protect themselves. Nothing is 100% foolproof but there are things that may help. These include but are not limited to:

Pick out difficult passwords.
This can help keep someone from guessing what they might be. Don’t choose the obvious. The name of pets, children family members and birth dates are all common passwords. Don’t use them. Make up a word or try to come up with something unique.

Clear your cache frequently.
Don’t take a chance that someone might see your browsing history.

Close your browser.
Don’t just log off of your email or sites with personal information. Close out the browser. Open up another window if you want to continue to surf the internet.

Avoid email attachments.
Attachments to emails sometimes contain viruses. Either avoid the attachment completely or scan before downloading.

Never click on anything suspicious.
If something looks suspicious it probably is. Try to avoid clicking on it as much as possible.

Look up other tips online from a safe computer.
Go to the library or any place else that has a public access computer. Try not to select any place that your abuser is familiar with.

For more tips, talk with your local domestic violence program. An advocate can help you form a safety plan.

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