Computer Crime Research Center


Cybercrime: protect your computer

Date: February 08, 2006
By: Victoria Roddel

With the world of technology in a panic over Symantec’s hidden files and Microsoft’s security holes, computer safety expert and author Victoria Roddel shares her five simple ways to protect your family and home computer from viruses, spyware, cybercrime and other threats from her new book, Internet Safety Family Guide.

LA BELLE, FLORIDA: Symantec Corp’s Norton SystemWorks finds itself under fire for its Rootkit feature that deliberately cloaked certain files from Windows APIs making them susceptible to viruses. At the same time, Microsoft rushes frantically to patch holes in Windows that make it vulnerable to the most deadly Trojan computer virus yet while all the while identity theft and cybercrime are reaching an all time high. Your computer has never been in more need of protection. But with news shifting and changing on a daily basis, it’s hard to know how to best keep you and your family safe in this online age. For Victoria Roddel, computer safety is about more than just protecting the data on your machine. It’s about protecting everyone who comes in contact with the household computer. With conflicting news reports sending consumers into a panic, we asked Roddel of the computer safety resource website to share her top five ways to protect yourself online.

Top 5 Ways to Keep Safe Online
(from Internet Safety Family Guide [ISBN 1411666631 &1411666690] by Victoria Roddel)

1) Don't leave the telecommunications cable (broadband modem, phone line) physically connected to your home computer when the internet is not in use. The only 100% safe computer is the one that is not connected to the internet.
2) Protect, watch, and supervise your children online just as you do with all their everyday activities. Do not assume that your children are safe because they are in your home using a computer.
3) Never open an attachment from an unfamiliar sender and scan suspicious attachments with a trusted virus scanner before opening.
4) Use firewalls, anti-virus, and spyware detection software on a regular basis. Be sure to download and install from the software manufacturer's website all available security patches and updates for all installed programs on your computer on a regular basis.
5) Protect your personal information and identity. Your life and the quality of your life depend on criminals not impersonating you to gain credit, money, a reputation, or committing a crime in your name.

“You wouldn’t just leave the front door to your home wide open for fear that someone might destroy or steal what is important to you. In the same way, you don’t want to leave your computer open to those who want to wipe out or take something from it. The household computer contains personal information. Not just your shopping habits, your friend’s emails and what sites you look at for fun but also banking, tax, and other confidential information,” says Roddel.

On her website and in her new book, Roddel covers not only basic virus and spyware protection but also the darker side of the internet including such family nightmares as cybercrime, cyberstalking, fraud, identity theft and keeping your children safe online. She describes the guide as “the only book for the home computer user that provides the basics of ALL aspects of internet safety regardless of whether the reader uses a Mac, Open Source, or PC computer.”

“Many people don’t realize the extent of the problems they could face when their computers aren’t protected and their family is not informed,” Roddel cautions. “Many parents, for example, don’t realize that if their children or children’s friends use their computer for illegal activities (illegal downloads, harassment, fraud), they are the ones legally responsible for the crime since the machine is registered under their name.”

If you have been the victim of a crime online or found your computer infested with viruses or spyware, however, don’t panic. Roddel offers many resources to help you find the legal help that you need on her website and in the guide. She is devoted to not only educating users about the risks and precautions that they can take while using the internet but also providing the steps you can take towards reclaiming your life and computer once cybercrime or a virus attacks.

“A few months ago the FTC launched a website that educates and aims to prevent cybercrime and it’s great!” says Roddel of the website, the latest government program to monitor this new wave of challenges to internet safety. “It’s a key step in getting people to realize that the dangers online are real. The most important thing for families to understand is that cybercrime is no different than any offline felony. True, the tools are newer and still unfamiliar to many people, but the classic criminals are still the same as the earliest days of civilization: the robber, the swindler, the child predator, the scam artist etc. When an individual maintains his personal health and protects himself and his family, he is contributing to the safety of his community, town, county, state, and country.”
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