Day to day internet use does not only revolve around social networking, e-commerce or web surfing. From time to time it is desirable to share data with others, download content from the web or subscribe to services which send files to your computer. It is important to understand what the implications of these activities are and how best to protect yourself against unwanted computer access while downloading and sharing computer data.
Firewalls can block all traffic between the internet and a computer that is not explicitly allowed, preventing unauthorised access to data. A firewall provides protection from viruses, spyware, spam as well as protecting personal identifying information and personal data stored on a computer.
Having a firewall permanently turned is the first line of defence against viruses, spyware and hackers.
Most operating systems provide a firewall as part of a basic security set-up. Commercially available security software such as anti-virus and anti-virus software programs may also include a personal firewall option.
File sharing is the sharing of digital information like computer programs, audio or video files, documents or electronic books with others across the internet. The most commonly shared files are pirated music, movies and computer software. Most file sharing is conducted over the internet using peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.
P2P is an application that runs on a personal computer and shares files, such as music files, with other users across the internet. P2P networks work by connecting individual computers together directly to share files instead of having to go through a central server. P2P networking is popular with children as the software is usually free, easy to install and gives access to many files that would otherwise be too difficult or too expensive to obtain. Some file-sharing software enables people to chat online while they share.
File sharing can be safe if legal services and appropriate e-security measures are used.
P2P file sharing enables users some access to each other’s systems. The level of access will vary depending on the user’s knowledge of and use of appropriate security settings. Less savvy users may be providing access to all aspects of their computer system, not just the music or movie files they are sharing.
Some files in P2P networks have misleading labels to hide the true nature of the content. This means that children might download something that appears innocent, only to find it is inappropriate for them. P2P networks may also be used to distribute child sexual abuse materials or to attempt to make contact with children. Parents should be especially wary of software that enables children to chat with other people sharing files.
Downloading is the process of saving a file from the internet onto a computer. The most common way to download is to click on a link that will begin the download automatically. A dialogue box will appear prompting the user to choose a computer location to ‘Save’ the file. Selecting Save will begin the process.
Downloading is an increasingly popular activity on the internet and for many people, downloading music and video is the main attraction of using the web. Many students download documents such as fact sheets for school assignments as well as music and movies.
Download of files, music and videos does not have to be illegal. There are many legal sources offering music, movies and other information for download. Some are free while others have a fee per service or an ongoing subscription fee.
One issue to consider may be potential download limits within your internet contract. It is important before downloading to check your internet download limit, current download level and how much any excess charges will be. Many illegal download websites also carry the risk of viruses. Ask friends or family about reliable and legal websites for downloading.
The following practical tips will help parents manage the risks of downloading.
Downloading is unlikely to be an issue for younger children who may not have the opportunity, or knowledge to download media like music or videos. If children are online the following general tips are a good starting point to help them be safe and responsible. It is useful to consider the following tips.
Downloading can start to be a risk for older children who are interested in downloading media files such as music, TV shows, movies and ring tones. The following tips can be used to help you to guide your child.
Downloading is popular with teens that may download media files such as music, TV shows, movies and ringtones. The following tips can help guide your teen to download safely.
Wireless networks in the office or at home enable users to share files, printers and internet access between all their computers without cables.
Wireless networking is very useful, but if not password protected, your wireless network may be accessed by others—even people who live next door or across the street. This could lead to you exceeding your download limit without knowing why. It can also enable others to access your personal information.
There are countless public computers offering internet access including computers in libraries, airports and internet cafes. Because these computers are accessible to many people, taking extra precautions to protect personal information and protect against possible virus infection is important.
Remembering not to leave a public computer unattended until fully logging out and not saving any files or any log-in information will help you to be safe when using public computers. Where a website has an automatic log-in checkbox, it’s a good idea to uncheck it. This helps to prevent others logging in with your identity later. When you’ve finished, clear the history, quit the browser, log out and, if possible, reboot the computer.
If using a public wireless network try to avoid online banking or credit card transactions, and ensure that security software, such as anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a firewall, are installed on the laptop.
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