By Dan Lhotka

Internet Safety, Continued

Last month, I talked about malware and how it infects computers.  I also offered suggestions on how to help prevent computers from getting infected in the first place.  One of the things I mentioned was reducing your online presence. 

                By reducing your online presence, I meant be very careful about your online identity.  Give out your personal email address only to people you know and trust.  Get a “junk” email address.  Gmail is free, as is Yahoo.  When going to websites that ask you to create an account or enter in your email address, first I try to give them a fake email address.  I usually use something like  However, many websites fight against that by sending account activation emails.  You have to respond to an email they send in order to create an account on their website.  In those cases, I give them my junk email account.  Then, I can activate the account and not worry about whether they send spam. 

When creating accounts for access on websites, also watch out when filling in those forms.  Some have a checkmark next to “Please spam me with promotions all the time!”.  Uncheck those.

The bottom line is that when a website asks for your email address, think to yourself “Do I trust them not to spam me or sell my email address to another company”.  If the answer is no, then give them the spam email address.

Another major source of malware and viruses is from peer to peer file sharing services.  Places and software such as BearShare, Limewire, Bittorrent, eDonkey, Gnutella, Shareaza, Kazaa, and others are rife with malware and viruses.   Even Newsgroups (which have been around since the Internet began) have more viruses and malware than real files.  The only safe way to get music, movies, and software is to do the right and legal thing and buy it.  And when I mean buy, get it from a reputable site.  Places like Rhapsody, Pandora, Hulu, Netflix, and so on.

Basically, if you are getting it for free, there is a high possibility that what you get is not what you want.


I have created a newsletter at address.  Please feel free to send suggestions on things you would like for me to talk about.  I will make an effort to address anything that comes in, and also be discreet about it.  Otherwise, I will keep blathering on about things that I think are important.