Safety

The internet is very much like the wild west and safety is needed. The opportunities for anyone to teach ESL abroad are enormous. English schools in China have doubled over the past few years, but with this rapid increase, and demand for English teachers, so has the rise in fake websites. Scammers will pose as a school or agency to get your information and money. Google finds over 300,000 malicious websites a month and every 2 seconds someone's identity is stolen in the United States. While these numbers are staggering, and the trend is for even more scammer websites. Malware or short for malicious software comes in many forms, delivered to your computer hidden in a variety of different ways. According to Internet security experts, most of the thefts that happen on the Internet could have been avoided if they had just followed a few simple safety tips.

Internet Safety

Every day there are over 200,000 NEW threats to your computer while some are relatively benign, Most are designed to steal your information or spy on you. Money motivates most Cyber-criminals, and they have no qualms abut destroying your life to make a few bucks. According to the experts, anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of Identity thefts did not need to happen. By taking a few precautions, you don't have to be a statistic.

Check your Firewall settings

A firewall blocks unwanted software from your computer. Windows XP and higher have a built-in firewall application and many internet protection programs also have one. When looking at a firewall program, check to see if it checks one-way or two. A one-way firewall protects information traveling from the Internet to your computer while two-way firewall also protects information traveling from your computer to the Internet. 

Keep your anti-Virus program updated 

Virus is a generic term to describe a piece of code designed to disrupt your computer. Given enough time there will be a few that make it past your firewall. Make sure that you have a good antivirus program installed on your computer, keep it up to date, and always running in the background.

Don't be a Victim to Spyware

As the name implies, the spyware program is designed to retrieve information from your computer. Whether it is watching you through the webcam, misdirecting your internet searches, copying your keystrokes or any number of other spying operations. Just like a virus have an anti-spyware and anti-malware running in real-time. Many anti-virus programs have an anti-spyware program, but check to make sure.

Take Internet Security Seriously

Make sure that your router at home is password protected. I can’t tell you how many open WiFi networks I find just in my neighborhood. When visiting a location with an open WiFi, be aware of what others around you are doing, use an Internet protection on your tablet. Without protection on your device, you are just inviting someone to hack you. A common myth is that cellphones and tablets are safe from hackers, think again. Every brand has been hacked at one time or another.

Be Mindful of Social Media

Another area where many people tend to be careless is social media. There are various ways that Hackers use social media to steal your information and infect a computer or electronic device. according to the FBI, something as simple as a like button can give them access to your computer. Many Internet security programs include a social media checker with their Internet security programs, and it should always be running and updated. Never put any personal information on social media, or anything that is private because once it's the internet it's there for life.

Use Strong Passwords

Make your passwords unique, complex, and long. Your password should be a mix of letters, numbers, special characters and no less than eight characters long. Do not use any relative birthday, address, name, or any reference to them, also don't use any word found in a dictionary, without making some changes. Using "Mission" as a password is lousy, "M1ss10n" is better, "M!sS10n" is still better while "1M1sS!On8" is the best. Trying to remember all those passwords can be a daunting task, so use a cheat sheet. Write your website, user ID, and password in a notebook or a phone book. Or put the information in a spreadsheet and use the copy and paste commands, or purchase a password generator, available at most computer stores. You should also change your password often, without reusing any of them.

Cover your Webcams

Webcams can be turned on remotely without the owner even knowing that it's on and recording. To prevent prying eyes, either unplugged the camera, turn it toward a wall, or put a sticky note over the camera lens when not in use.

Education is the best Defence

It doesn’t matter how good your programs are if you open up a phishing email or voluntarily put your information in a scammer’s site. Learn how to recognize a questionable email or malicious website. Be careful of sites that offer free stuff, that is one of the major ways that those nasty programs get installed on a computer. Look at EVERY email to see if it authentic. Trust your instincts, and check it out before you do anything with a new email or website.

The weakness link in most Internet security is the human factor. Scammers know this and are good at appearing safe and trustworthy, they also know how to play on human emotions to get the desired results. When you are on the Internet, don't make it easy for the scammers, think before you act.

Email Safety

phishing email

Don't get caught by a phishing email.

Click on the image to see why this is a phishing email

If you're like me, you’ll have dozens of new emails on several different accounts every day. Phishing or Spoofing emails look real and are sometimes copies of an email from a legitimate company. The question is how do you weed out the potential phishing or scams from the legitimate emails. One thing that you can do is to disable the image files unless you choose to turn them on setting your email controls to text only. Many email programs have this feature. Also, look at different areas of the email to see if it passes the test. If there is any doubt, then don't open the email, even afterwards keep an eye out for anything that might look suspicious.

Who is the email from?

Even if you know the person the email is from, it may be from a bot or your friend’s email may have been hacked. Ask yourself, does the friend’s email look normal? If you have doubts, then hold the mouse over the name in from in the address bar and confirm that it is the correct address. Example: when I received an email from a friend with a list of people in the "CC" line, I knew that was not their style. When I saw that there were names in the "CC" box, I knew it was not from them. Also, if you don't know the sender, keep checking or delete the email.

Is the domain name valid?

When looking at the domain, use some common sense. Some domain names are obvious, I received an email the other day with a domain of “weg.hit.sko.etd.com”, I didn’t go any further than the domain before deleting the email. However some are not so easy to spot, they look like legitimate sites until you look closely at the domain name. By using numbers instead of letters, scammers can make the domain look like the real one. It may have a domain of Paypa1.com or Paypal.com/index instead of actual Paypal.com.

Important email

The time-sensitive call to action formula seems to work well, in that people tend to respond without thinking. Does the email say important or urgent near the top of the email, or it might even appear in the subject line? Spammers want you to feel rushed so that you click on the reply button without thinking? Look carefully at the email to see if it is even from a business that you know. DON'T click on ANY links in the email on any images. Some email programs show the link at the bottom of the screen when the mouse scrolls over the link.

Bad grammar

Many phishing emails will have misspellings and bad grammar allowing the email bypass a lot of spam blockers. Also, the ones that answer those emails will be more gullible and easier to manipulate.

Asks for personal information

The email will send you to a website or a pop-up requesting personal information. NEVER put in personal information in a popup. When a site asks personal information, for a purchase or the like, make sure that there is an HTTPs at the head of the domain name and a green lock in the domain bar. Do not trust any images on the site or the email, since they can be copied and attached. Be wary of any attachments on emails, as they can hide a suspicious code that will send you to the scammer’s site first, collect your information, and then send you to a legitimate site. Never click on the link, manually type in the web address.

If you have any doubts about the email authenticity, DON'T OPEN IT,

Website Safety

If you have any doubts about the website authenticity, LEAVE. It is sometimes challenging to tell if a site is genuine, a fake or a combination of both. Knowing what to look for with a fake website is half the battle, and having a good Internet protection program that detects them helps a lot. Some internet security programs will block known dangerous sites, but you still have to be on guard and know how to spot a malicious site. Computers are not the only entry point to your information. If your mobile device uses iOS or Android operating system, then you also need to protect them from prying eyes. The myth that you're safe from hackers on your smart devices is just that, a myth. According to International Business Times, some smartphones have already experienced malware and many Internet safety experts, warn that this is only the beginning. Unless the site has BOTH the HTTPs and a green or grey padlock, DO NOT put any personal information on that site.

HTTPS is a Must 

The address bar has the address of the website and page Hopefully, it’s preceded by the familiar HTTP or HTTPs. While they are good indicators, they can be forged by governments and other organizations and should not be the only indicators that the site is safe.

Locks for Trust

In the address bar, there should be a green or grey symbol the looks like a padlock at the far left, prior to the HTTPs. When the mouse is over the padlock, it will display who verified that site. When clicked on the lock, it will display different aspects of the verification. Only when the padlock and HTTPs are in the address bar should the site be trusted.

Copied Verification Emblems

Many sites have verification logos or emblems somewhere on the site. These can be nothing more than an image of a legitimate logo and should not be trusted implicitly.

Carefully Check Domain Names

Check the domain name of any website for misspellings, and safety features before putting ANY information into a form. Watch out for different spellings like, Myb00k.com, or mybook.index.com, or myBoo!k.com. They are probably taking you to a scammer site

Be Wary of Popups

Be wary of popups that ask for any kind of personal information, even if it is on a trusted site. Popups can be put in the middle of a data path between you and your target, giving a false sense of security. If you are suspicious, contact the site and verify the popup with them.

Banners can be Faked

Scammers may have copied a legitimate banner then tied it to a different site, they are excellent at copying banners, except that the domain name will be different. ALWAYS use the above features to make sure that the banner led you to the correct website.

After going to a site that has personal information like your bank, Credit Union, Paypal, Amazon or similar sites, immediately and completely close the browser when your done. Also set your browser to delete your viewing history on close or as soon as possible, also make sure that your browser has Spyware, and Malware settings turned on.

Digital media is not the only way scammers and thieves acquire personal information. being careless in a crowd or with your physical property can have just as drastic effect as if they hacked your computer. As we become more accustomed to using our smart phones, tablets, notebooks in public places, sometimes we forget that we are still vulnerable with our material items. When it comes to your physical world, many thieves are more opportunistic relying on your lack of observation and carelessness. Others will play on your emotions, and lack of local customs or your desires to separate you from your money. 

General Safety

In this age of technology where addresses, phone numbers and messages are stored on electronic devices, people tend to overlook the non-technological ways that scammers and thieves can obtain information. While you have a much greater chance of being robbed online than in the physical world, still "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure".

Bank Cards Safety

Radio frequency identification is being used in more cards every year. Keep your credit cards, bank cards, driver licence, and passport in an RFID protective sleeve. Many new forms of Identifications and credit cards have a radio chip embedded. New bank cards will have the chip and pin, which makes them more secure than the RFID. I would still keep all my cards in an RFID protective sleeve. 

Destroy Receipts 

Destroy the receipt, if you use a credit card, an ATM card, or it has your name, address or any other personal information. Shredding is the best option, but when that is not available, then tear it up into pieces. There have been articles that suggest tearing up the receipt and then distributing the pieces in different trash cans.

Luggage by Your Side 

Keep your luggage locked and with you at all times, when it is not in the hold of a plane, train, bus or taxi. Tie a colored balloon or piece of yarn to the handle so that you can recognize it easily. Depending on where you're traveling, take a picture of the contents for reference and proof in case something happens. KEEP your personal documents with you at ALL TIMES.

Copies are Smart

Before you leave, make sure that you have copies of all your bank cards, front and back, your passport, any reservations, and travel itineraries. Keep them in a separate location, preferably in the hotel safe or in your carry-on, when traveling. If possible, make sure someone back home also has copies in case of an emergency.

Guard Your Purses 

​Make sure the purse or day planner has a clasp so that it can be closed. When sitting at a table with your bag or a day planner, put it between the small of your back and the back of the chair when possible. If the chair does not have a back place it in your lap and under your napkin. If it is too big, then put it between your feet under the table.

Using just a few general safety tips can prevent a great trip from becoming a disaster.

Personal Safety

Separate Your Valuables  

Never carry all your bank cards and cash together. When possible, leave what you don't expect to use in the hotel safe and only take some cash and a couple of bank cards. Use an ankle wallet or a hollow belt if you have to carry them. NEVER, take the hidden ones out in public, use a restroom stall to swap out the cards if need be. If you don't have a chip and pin card, then make sure all your cards are protected by RFID covers. Check with your bank and card company weekly to catch any unwanted charges.

Obay the Local Laws

Remember, you are a visitor and must obey their laws. Check with the embassy or your doctor about any medications or drugs that you may be taking. Cannabis oil may be legal where your live, but it might not be legal where you are going and getting caught with it could mean deportation or worse.

Scammers are Everywhere

While visiting a foreign city, a pretty girl or handsome man will approach and offer to show you around the city. They might show you a few sites before ending up at a tea house, or a museum where they will disappear shortly before several people will demand money from you.

Be aware of your surroundings and other people actions. 

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