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E-Mail Safety and Information

E-Mail is truly wonderful. A way to communicate instantly and no hunting for stamps. However, you must keep a few things in mind to play it safe, make sure your message is received in the proper tone, and avoid (as best as you can) spam.

About Passwords

You will need a password for your email account. In some cases, such as ISP provided accounts, you are assigned a password. If you create your own passwords, make sure they are not normal words that can be found in a dictionary (combinations of two words is fine, or a word and numbers) and make sure it is not easily guessable. Do not use a family member's name, a pets name, the words safe, password, remember, etc. Do not use strings of numbers such as 123456 or letter combinations like qwerty or asdf. If you have multiple e-mail accounts with different providers, protect yourself against renegade employees by using a different password for each email provider.

Asking for Passwords

When someone emails you asking for a password or credit card information, do not provide it. Your provider will always know this information, and if they truly need personal information like this, call them at their listed number before providing it to make sure you have the actual company and not someone pretending to be with them. You would be astounded how many people fall for the "AOL needs your password because we lost it" ploy. E-Mail can appear to be from someone that looks legitimate but is actually from someone "spoofing" (pretending to be someone) an E-Mail address.

Attachments

Never open unexpected attachments. If someone sends you an attachment (especially a program attachment) do not run it. Instead, E-Mail the sender back and ask what it is. It may inconvenience you slightly, but it is far better than accidentally installing a virus, trojan horse program or backdoor into your system. Teach your friends and family not to do this either. If you find yourself or a friend E-Mailing a file you did not send, go to a virus protection site and search for the file name and scan your system for viruses.

Following Links

Before clicking on unknown links received in E-Mail, make sure they lead where you think they will. By hovering your mouse over a link, you will see where the link will actually take you.

Spam Avoidance

Spam is unwanted mass-marketing E-Mail. A lot of it is sexual in nature (pornography being the biggest money maker on the World Wide Web). Spammers get your address in many ways. Usually they find your E-Mail address on newsgroups (UseNet), websites, or perhaps even your website registry if you have one. Try to use a mailbox like hotmail or yahoo when posting messages publicly. When signing up for websites, make sure you select the options not to have your information shared and choose not to be notified by the company of special unless you really want their E-Mails.


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