By the end of this lesson, learners should be able to:
What is the Internet?
The Internet is a massive network of computers linked together for global communications. Some computers, typically those provided by companies, provides or "serves" information on request. Other computers, or those in your home, contain software to access and view information. There are a variety of ways to access the Internet. Most online services, such as America Online, offer access to some Internet services. Households typically use an Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as America Online, that provides Internet services.
When you log onto the Internet using Microsoft Internet Explorer or some other browser, you view documents on the World Wide Web. You can view and retrieve documents, images, animation and video, listen to sound files, speak and hear voice, and view programs that run on practically any software in the world -- providing your computer has the hardware and software to do these things.
What are the threats?
As the Internet has grown in volume so too has its technology. One of the biggest technological breakthroughs is broadband Internet access. Both a cable modem and DSL allows your computer to send and receive Internet data at faster speeds than dial-up. More bandwidth results in improved streaming audio/video, online games, application programs, telephone calling, video conferencing and other high-bandwidth services.
But when you have DSL and cable modem Internet connections, it also means that your computer is connected to the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Any computer that is connected to the Internet all the time is more susceptible to possible Internet attack than computers accessing the Internet through a 56K dial-up connection.
The upcoming modules discuss many of the threats that your family and computer face on the Internet, including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, hoaxes, spyware, adware, keystroke logging, and cookies. We also discuss hacking, email threats, and identify theft. This section concludes with a discussion on safe online shopping.
How Do You Keep Your Children Safe Online?
In addition to the malicious threats that we've just discussed, there are also people who operate those computers. You don't know who they are. And there are many more ways to communicate with someone online other than sending an email message.
If you truly want to protect your family and children while they're online, you should know how to use the Internet, what sites your children enjoy, and what activities they do online. Experiment for yourself. Become acutely aware of what your children are capable of doing in the online environment.
They will meet people you don't know -- in chat rooms, discussion boards, newsgroups, instant messaging, and email -- and perhaps correspond with them frequently. Your children will be exposed to pornography, and perhaps even cyber stalking and/or harassment. Your children can expose your computer to threats introduced by software downloads, music downloads, and online games. Because much of this material is copyrighted, the threat of illegal downloads is ever present.
In addition to these dangers, this course discusses how to establish ground rules for Internet use in your home. Perhaps you need a formal written agreement that you and your children sign, stating what functions are allowed or are not allowed on the Internet. It is up to you to investigate the ISP that is best suited for your family needs, which search engines are kid-friendly, and how to recognize quality Web sites.
How Do You Protect Your Data and Computer?
After introducing the many threats and dangers in the lessons of Units 1 and 2, we provide some practical information on how to protect your data and computer in unit 3. We talk about how to protect your email using Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, as well as other anti-spam software available on the market.
Your Web browser provides certain features to allow you to monitor your children's access to Internet content. There are also some commercial products that you can buy to monitor computer activity.
Somewhat similar to monitoring, filtering software can restrict your children's access to certain undesirable material on the Internet, including pornography and hate content. The Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser has some built-in capability to assign Web sites to security zones and limit exposure to content. We discuss free resources that are available to you on the Internet, as well as commercial products that can be purchased.
Is spyware, viruses, or worms affecting your computer's performance? We discuss how to scan your computer from spyware and other harmful code, but also how to protect and remove these dangers. We discuss free resources and commercial products that aid this effort.
Lastly, we discuss firewalls and how they can be used to protect your computer and family from outsiders who try to access your computer to controll what Web sites your children can visit. There are both free tools and commercial products you can use to protect your home. You can also evaluate the quality of your firewall protection.