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What if your email address could demand respect?

Awareness + Knowledge = Protection

Just as you carefully select the stores & banks you will “walk” into to share your business information with, you must also be just as careful on the Internet. But, as with many new things, criminal minds will attempt to confuse and deceive. Your best weapon is education.

To ensure you are at your Internet location of choice, there are a few things you must learn.

The URL-

The first and most important thing to learn is ‘what is a URL,’ also known as one of the following; “Web Address”, "Internet Address” or a “Domain Name.”

At the top of your Internet Browser is an address line. You probably recall seeing strings of characters that look something like: http://www.thisplace.com. Similar to a street address, this is an Internet address. Now, let’s take a closer look at this and find out how a would-be criminal might attempt to confuse you. The most important parts of http://www.thisplace.com are the “.com” and the text just before the “.com” but only up to the next dot. The dot is very, very important. Moved in either direction by one character, puts you somewhere totally different. Here are a few examples of how the dark side of the Internet may attempt to deceive you:

A) http://www.thisplace.net -or- http://www.thisplace.cc -or- http://www.thisplace.us - Each of these are completely different. If this were a physical building (say a bank,) you may as well consider them all completely different street addresses.

B) http://www.this.place.com Notice that “thisplace” is no longer one word, it is now broken apart by a dot. What this means is that when you enter this building, you are not at “thisplace.com” but rather you are at “place.com”. Again, if this were a physical building (say a bank,) you may as well consider it a completely different street address – or for that matter – a different country.

Note : While most of the popular Web browsers (FireFox, Internet Explorer & Opera) have a level of Phishing protection the user must still be well enough informed to keep on the lookout for something, well – “phishy”. Because, phishers work day and night to find ways around the protection dujor.

The Lock-

Commonly referred to as a “secure site,” when you visit a website that claims the information you are about to enter is secure, you should see a picture of a pad lock on the bottom right corner of screen. However, display of a lock does not ensure that you are at the website you think you are at. Noticing the lock is only the beginning, as anyone can purchase a security certificate that makes that lock appear – even “place.com” (See The URL above). Therefore, when you visit a site and you see the lock, there are 2 quick things you can do to ensure you are where you intend to be: Look at the Web address URL closely and ensure it is exactly the Web address you wish to be visiting. Then, to check even further, click on the lock. A box will open up that displays the URL that owns the Security Certificate behind this lock. It should be the same as the Web address you expecting to be visiting. See the section above “The URL”

Don’t Open Unfamiliar Emails – You may be opening a Bomb!

If you receive an unexpected file attached to an email, be on your guard! The safest thing is to “never open” an attached file unless you are 100% sure you know what it is. Email, in fact, is the most common method hackers use to distribute malware (see The Threat) While this type of email may present itself as a harmless distraction its goal is far from harmless. The attachment may claim to be a picture, a web link, or (and this is very common,) a zip file containing something of interest (a bank statement, an invoice, a picture of something, etc…). If you don’t open it, you are ok, but clicking on something will often lead to the malware* installing itself on your computer after which you have lost all control. You must also be just as aware should you receive a file attachment from a friend! “Why,” you ask? It is possible that your friend’s computer was infected first and one of the functions of the infected software is to send an infected email to everyone in the address book. This is how hackers write viruses to spread. So, not to worry, if you get an unexpected attachment from a friend, simply write them back (or call them) and ask them about the message. Chances are the message was fine, but compared to the havoc a virus could wreak on your life, it is well worth the preemptive detective work.