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General Safety Tips

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Why is Cyber Security a Problem? What is cyber security?

Why is Cyber Security a Problem?

It seems that everything relies on computers and the internet now — communication (email, cellphones), entertainment (digital cable, mp3s), transportation (car engine systems, airplane navigation), shopping (online stores, credit cards), medicine (equipment, medical records), and the list goes on. How much of your daily life relies on computers? Using Caution with USB Drives. What security risks are associated with USB drives?

Using Caution with USB Drives

Because USB drives, sometimes known as thumb drives, are small, readily available, inexpensive, and extremely portable, they are popular for storing and transporting files from one computer to another. However, these same characteristics make them appealing to attackers. One option is for attackers to use your USB drive to infect other computers. An attacker might infect a computer with malicious code, or malware, that can detect when a USB drive is plugged into a computer. The malware then downloads malicious code onto the drive. Using Caution with Email Attachments.

While email attachments are a popular and convenient way to send documents, they are also a common source of viruses.

Using Caution with Email Attachments

Use caution when opening attachments, even if they appear to have been sent by someone you know. Why can email attachments be dangerous? Some of the characteristics that make email attachments convenient and popular are also the ones that make them a common tool for attackers: Email is easily circulated - Forwarding email is so simple that viruses can quickly infect many machines. Most viruses don't even require users to forward the email—they scan a users' computer for email addresses and automatically send the infected message to all of the addresses they find. Understanding Your Computer: Web Browsers. How do web browsers work?

Understanding Your Computer: Web Browsers

A web browser is an application that finds and displays web pages. It coordinates communication between your computer and the web server where a particular website "lives. " When you open your browser and type in a web address (URL) for a website, the browser submits a request to the server, or servers, that provide the content for that page. The browser then processes the code from the server (written in a language such as HTML, JavaScript, or XML) and loads any other elements (such as Flash, Java, or ActiveX) that are necessary to generate content for the page. Understanding Your Computer: Email Clients. How do email clients work?

Understanding Your Computer: Email Clients

Every email address has two basic parts: the user name and the domain name. When you are sending email to someone else, your domain's server has to communicate with your recipient's domain server. For example, let's assume that your email address is, and the person you are contacting is at In very basic terms, after you hit send, the server hosting your domain ( looks at the email address and then contacts the server hosting the recipient's domain ( to let it know that it has a message for someone at that domain. Once the connection has been established, the server hosting the recipient's domain ( then looks at the user name of the email address and routes the message to that account.

Understanding Web Site Certificates. What are web site certificates?

Understanding Web Site Certificates

Understanding ISPs. What is an ISP?

Understanding ISPs

An ISP, or internet service provider, is a company that provides its customers access to the internet and other web services. In addition to maintaining a direct line to the internet, the company usually maintains web servers. By supplying necessary software, a password-protected user account, and a way to connect to the internet (e.g., modem), ISPs offer their customers the capability to browse the web and exchange email with other people. Some ISPs also offer additional services. With the development of smart phones, many cell phone providers are also ISPs.

ISPs can vary in size—some are operated by one individual, while others are large corporations. Understanding Hidden Threats: Corrupted Software Files. Malicious code is not always hidden in web page scripts or unusual file formats.

Understanding Hidden Threats: Corrupted Software Files

Attackers may corrupt types of files that you would recognize and typically consider safe, so you should take precautions when opening files from other people. What types of files can attackers corrupt? An attacker may be able to insert malicious code into any file, including common file types that you would normally consider safe. These files may include documents created with word processing software, spreadsheets, or image files. Understanding Digital Signatures. Digital signatures are a way to verify that an email message is really from the person who supposedly sent it and that it hasn't been changed.

Understanding Digital Signatures

What is a digital signature? There are different types of digital signatures; this tip focuses on digital signatures for email messages. You may have received emails that have a block of letters and numbers at the bottom of the message. Although it may look like useless text or some kind of error, this information is actually a digital signature. Understanding Bluetooth Technology. What is Bluetooth?

Understanding Bluetooth Technology

Bluetooth is a technology that allows devices to communicate with each other without cables or wires. It is an electronics "standard," which means that manufacturers that want to include this feature have to incorporate specific requirements into their electronic devices. These specifications ensure that the devices can recognize and interact with other devices that use the Bluetooth technology. Many popular manufacturers are making devices that use Bluetooth technology. Shopping Safely Online. Online shopping has become a popular way to purchase items without the hassles of traffic and crowds. Securing Wireless Networks. How do wireless networks work? As the name suggests, wireless networks, sometimes called WiFi, allow you to connect to the internet without relying on wires.

If your home, office, airport, or even local coffee shop has a wireless connection, you can access the network from anywhere that is within that wireless area. Wireless networks rely on radio waves rather than wires to connect computers to the internet. A transmitter, known as a wireless access point or gateway, is wired into an internet connection. This provides a "hotspot" that transmits the connectivity over radio waves. Risks of File-Sharing Technology. File-sharing technology is a popular way for users to exchange, or "share," files. However, using this technology makes you susceptible to risks such as infection, attack, or exposure of personal information. Reducing Spam. Spam is a common, and often frustrating, side effect to having an email account. Although you will probably not be able to eliminate it, there are ways to reduce it.

What is spam? Spam is the electronic version of “junk mail.” The term spam refers to unsolicited, often unwanted, email messages. Spam does not necessarily contain viruses—valid messages from legitimate sources could fall into this category. How can you reduce the amount of spam? Recognizing Fake Antiviruses. What is fake antivirus? Fake antivirus is malicious software (malware) designed to steal information from unsuspecting users by mimicking legitimate security software. The malware makes numerous system modifications making it extremely difficult to terminate unauthorized activities and remove the program. It also causes realistic, interactive security warnings to be displayed to the computer user.

Recognizing and Avoiding Spyware. Because of its popularity, the internet has become an ideal target for advertising. Protecting Portable Devices: Physical Security. Many computer users, especially those who travel for business, rely on laptops and personal internet-enabled devices like smartphones and tablets because they are small and easily transported. Protecting Portable Devices: Data Security. Preventing and Responding to Identity Theft. OnGuard Online. Identifying Hoaxes and Urban Legends. Good Security Habits. Evaluating Your Web Browser's Security Settings. Defending Cell Phones and PDAs Against Attack. As cell phones and PDAs become more technologically advanced, attackers are finding new ways to target victims. Cybersecurity for Electronic Devices. When you think about cybersecurity, remember that electronics such as smartphones and other internet-enabled devices may also be vulnerable to attack.

Take appropriate precautions to limit your risk. Why does cybersecurity extend beyond computers? Creating a Strong Password. Choosing and Protecting Passwords. Browsing Safely: Understanding Active Content and Cookies. Benefits and Risks of Free Email Services. Benefits of BCC. Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks. Tips & Advice Overview ¦ Stop Think Connect. An Introduction to Threat Modeling.