The internet is an incredible tool for research, learning, social engagement and entertainment. However, there are dangerous sites and practices that every student should know about. This guide will help you to recognize some of the hidden dangers on the internet and the best strategies for dealing with them safely.
How can I be sure my personal information is safe?
While there have been many advances in internet security since online shopping first came about, there are still websites designed to simply take user's information and use them in negative ways. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) states there are three ways that internet attackers try to obtain information: "targeting vulnerable computers, creating fraudulent sites and e-mail messages and intercepting insecure transactions" (Maher & McDowell, 2010). Before purchasing anything online, research the website that you will be buying from (Purnell). If information about the site is hard to find or contains several negative reviews, consider using a different site. Additionally, by keeping your software up to date, changing your passwords on a regular basis and using reputable and secure shopping sites like, you can help keep your information between yourself and the seller. To read US-CERT's complete article on internet safety, please click here.

What's the best way to prevent viruses?
Viruses are files that are hidden in web and e-mail downloads that can do harm to your computer. The best way to deal with viruses is through prevention. US-CERT suggestions installing "anti-virus software from a reputable vendor. Update it and use it regularly" (US-CERT). If you are using a Windows computer, you can install a free anti-virus program called Microsoft Security Essentials here.
Additionally, in the case that you were ever infected with a computer virus, it is important to keep a current backup of your files. Use an external hard drive or thumb drive or a free cloud storage site like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Web Permanence
I can just delete something if I change my mind, right?
When we post content to the web, the users who view the information can usually download the files they see. This means photos, videos or text. Just because you remove the information, does not mean it has been removed from their computers. It is wise to use the rule "would I feel comfortable having this information on the front page of a newspaper or magazine," because your content is just as public!

McDowell, M., & Maher, M. (2010, December 6). US-CERT Tip ST07-001 - Shopping Safely Online. US-CERT - United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. Retrieved October 27, 2012, from

Purnell, H. (n.d.). 5 Rules of Internet Safety for College Students. CollegeView - College Finder & Recruiting Service. Retrieved October 27, 2012, from

US-CERT. (n.d.). Virus Basics. US-CERT - United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. Retrieved October 27, 2012, from

Susan Shannon
10/27/2012 10:33:34 pm

I love your comment about web permanence. So often people post before they think. I like to sleep on many of my posts, considering text, images and videos before I really do post something.

When we consider that others may not be as careful, it enforces use to think of our actions in public places. Everyone is watching.

Jamie Doiron
10/28/2012 02:13:17 am

I agree with Susan - your comment on web permanence is very important. I used to work in IT and I understand that companies have backups, and backups of their backups. They need to fully restore their website in the case of a disaster. Unfortunately, this also means that your data is never truly gone. This post, for instance, will probably be stored somewhere longer than I am alive! Teens especially need to understand that the things they say and do online will live on and can impact their ability to get a job or get into college.

10/29/2012 11:07:35 am

Hi Amber!

I agree with you that the internet is an excellent tool for education. Therefore, it is unfortunate that there are so many dangers that students have to watch out for. Essentially, students need to know what to be aware of when using the internet so they can use it in a safe way. Essentially, students can easily be vulnerable to internet fraud. In short, they need a set of guidelines that will tell them what to do to not become a victim of fraud.

Additionally, as you stated, students can easily download a virus to any computer they are using. Therefore, I believe that it is important to educate them on how to stay safe from viruses. In short, teachers need to be aware of what sites the students are accessing, what they open up in an email, and what they are downloading. This along with anti-virus software is a good combination to keep students safe online.

Great job on your blog post!


Joshua Smith

Forrest Doud
10/29/2012 12:57:37 pm

Hi appreciated that you brought up the concept of Web Permanence. That is not something that most people think of when it comes to Internet safety but it definitely fits the bill in my mind. Younger students definitely need to know that what they post online is still going to be there 20 years later when they are working adults. I recently re-activated my Facebook account after 2 years and it was pretty crazy to see everything there perfectly as I had left it.


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