Hacking is becoming more and more of a nuisance for computer users. With increasing numbers of users getting online, hackers, phishers, and other unscrupulous people on the Internet have a number of potential victims. Many people who are just getting online don’t take the time to research the various scams out there first, and others don’t have anyone to guide them. The best way to combat the hacking threat is education, in as many different venues as possible.
Most first-time computer users will have tools available to help protect their computer when they first purchase it. A trial or even totally free version of an anti-virus program is usually included. A firewall and malware scanner may also be included. Unfortunately, too many people go online before they’ve even had a chance to acquaint themselves with how their computer works. At the very least, a user should be able to understand how to install a program without the aid of a technician before spending a considerable amount of time online. This will help save time in case a program has to be installed to remove a piece of malware.
ISP’s, especially local ones that offer in-home setup, can play a big role in protecting customers from threats. Making informational items available with tips on staying safe online often helps. This provides something that people can post by their computer and refer to as needed. A technician who provides help with setup can also give a brief demonstration on how to use tools such as an anti-virus program, a malware scanner, and a firewall. Though these programs can seem intimidating at first, they’re one of the best investments you’ll ever make.
Communicating with others about threats online is a key issue. Visiting tech-related forums and blogs can provide a wealth of information. Anytime someone finds useful information on an online security threat or a good website that offers such information, they should spread the word. Though TV news agencies are good about reporting on damaging cyber-threats, print media such as local newspapers often don’t devote much time to such things. A brief weekly section about news on cyber-security can be valuable. Even non-users who read about an online security threat in the paper might tell their friends who use computers about what they read.
Older middle-aged and senior adults are among some of the people who are quickly discovering how useful the Internet is. Many older adults have had limited exposure to personal computers, and are often a target for hackers and other cyber-thugs. Those who have never used a computer as part of a job before may feel somewhat intimidated by all the possible threats. Computer classes geared towards seniors, as well as Internet beginners in general, should address these threats.
Finally, education about cyber-threats should address the need to check information that’s received out. Many a person has been scared by a virus they were notified about by means of an email forward, then discovered it was a hoax. These false alarms can cause people to take hacking and other online threats less seriously. Information from Microsoft, Norton, and other reputable sources should always be given priority. New computer users should familiarize themselves with sites like Snopes and Break the Chain that combat urban legends and other hoaxes.