Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Instant Messaging: Adhere to Safety Rules

The following is a selection from 21st book, 135 Tips for Email and Instant Messages, which will be published by Houghton Mifflin in the spring of 2008.

Thanks to better virus checkers, emails have become safer. However, IMs provide new a breeding ground for viruses and digital worms. Whether you’re a veteran IM user or you just decided to take the plunge, here are safety rules to remember:

On the technology side
• Run antivirus software regularly and apply security patches to your computer.
• Be sure your firewall is secure because IMs can dip into a firewall until they find an opening.
• Know that IMs can be saved and archived.
• Don’t accept downloaded files from people you don’t know.

On the common sense side
• Never give out sensitive or personal information such as your social security number, credit car numbers, passwords, and the like.
• Never relate confidential or sensitive information.
• Monitor your children’s use of IMs against a Contact List or Buddy List you’ve approved.
• Avoid posting your screen name online.
• Keep your business contacts on a list separate from family and friends.
• Follow company policies regarding the use of IMs.

Note: Some services let you archive IMs. If yours doesn’t, you can cut and paste the message or chat into a notepad or Word document. Remember that anything can and may be used against you.

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. http://www.sherylwrites.com