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IBM: Ten Tips to aid Holiday Shopping and Online Security!

1. Immunize your computer!
Make sure your computer has antivirus software, and ALWAYS keep it up to date. Believe it or not, IBM's Security Threats and Attack Trends team continues to see activity from viruses as old as CodeRed and Nimda, which first appeared three years ago.
2. Install a firewall
for your home computer network, especially if you use an always-on connection like broadband or DSL, and avoid being a victim of a list-bomb. Intruders are constantly scanning for home systems they can hijack.
3. Protect your laptop!
If you like to take your laptop with you and use wifi hotspots at your local coffee shop or airport, it should have its own firewall so you can protect your computer.
4. Be wifi wise!
If your computer uses a wireless device, the device should use the WPA or WPA2 Wi-fi Protected Access protocol. One easy way to check is to look at the package label to see if the box for Wi-Fi Protected Access is checkmarked.
5. Donít respond to unsolicited e-mail or instant messages!
Even the Unsubscribe function on a Spam e-mail probably wonít take you off any junk lists, and it may even redirect you unknowingly to a malicious Web site that could download a virus on your PC.
6. Avoid obvious passwords!
Did you know that 40% of all computer users use the word "password" as their password? When choosing a password, here are a few ways to slow down programs that are specially written to crack your password. Donít choose obvious things like the name of a pet, friend or your birth month. Go for longer passwords, at least 7 or 8 characters. Mix letters with non-letters such as numbers and punctuation. And if you absolutely have to use a real word, misspell it.
7. Beware of links in Instant Messagers!
Don't take ANY of your online connections for granted. Experts project that 2 billion spam messages will bombard IM applications this year. If youíre an IM user, be cautious about following links or running software sent to you by someone else. These are commonly used to build networks of computers that are unwittingly part of a denial of service attack.
8. Donít be fooled by spoofers!
There is no good reason to give out your password, social security number, or bank account information in response to an e-mail or phone call. Most legitimate banks and Internet service providers would never ask you to send them that kind of information. If in doubt, call them.
9. Is it safe?
If youíre like many holiday shoppers, youíll be doing a lot of your shopping by pointing and clicking instead of parking and walking. Before giving out your financial or account information at any Web site, look for a third-party privacy seal to ensure that the transaction is secure.
10. Backup your important files!
Last but not least, when was the last time you backed up your files? Just in case your system becomes infected, it's good to have a backup.

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