Friday, May 15, 2009

8 stupid things people do online

8 stupid things people do online
Tue, May 12, 2009

Sure, people do stupid things on the Internet all the time. But before you dismiss this guide as a list only for bimbos and airheads, take a closer look.

You might already have done some of the things on this list without even realising that it is potentially harmful.
Don't wait till the repercussions come back to haunt you from cyberspace.

1. Talking too much about yourself

So you've got a new boyfriend, your dog's name is Greg. You have a younger sister in high school who annoys you like no one else does.

You just got a new car, and paid for it with your new credit card. Your birthday is on June 9 and you're 25 years old.

Right now, you live with your parents at Block 224 but really want to move out the moment you marry that cool guy from French class that you have a crush on.

Sounds normal? That's what everyone blogs about, or shares on Facebook, you argue.

That's true, but sharing so much information about yourself also opens you to malicious attacks by both real-world and cyber criminals alike.

For starters, someone can take over your online identity, and start posting things (racist, Satanist or pornographic blogs, anyone?) in your name.

If you're unlucky, cyber criminals might also be able to use your personal information to make unauthorised purchases with your credit card, or, gasp, withdraw funds from your bank account.

Sounds scary, it's happened, and I don't think anyone wanted to be a victim when they first gushed non-stop about themselves and their lives online.

The bottom line: Don't expect only yourself or your close friends to read your blog or Facebook page. Even with security features on, you'll never know if these features might lapse and expose your information to the world.

2. Bitch about work

Hate the boss? Think that slutty colleague stole your promotion and your bonus?

Strangling colleagues from hell in real life would land you in jail, but blogging about how terrible they are may mean the end of your job.

You'll never know when someone from the office might chance on your blog or post and rat about its contents to the boss.

For security reasons and to keep business practices confidential, many companies do not allow their employees to blog about their work as well.

The bottom line: Make sure you get the okay from your human resources department (they are the guys who know best) on whether you can discuss your work online, and even then, never speak badly about your colleagues, or anyone else for that matter.

3. Upload every photo you take

You take pictures of your room, your house, your dog, your computer, your parents and even the neighbours. Then you put them all into carefully sorted galleries and put them all on your blog.

They might be a treat for friends wanting to catch up with you, but when pieced together, these pictures can also reveal a lot about your life.

Just the other week I figured out where my new online friend worked and lived, simply because she photo-blogged every picture she took with her handy mobile phone.

The bottom line: Don't want an online - or scarier, offline - stalker? Quit being a camwhore and stop posting those pictures online. If you still insist on doing so, make sure you check the back seat the next time you take the car out for a spin.

4. Believe everything that strangers say

"Dear Sir, I am a lawyer and would like to offer you $50,000 which my dead client left in a bank account."
Sounds familiar? Now, most of us would be clever enough by now to hear our brains scream 'scam!' by the time we are three-quarters into reading that line.

But not all scams are created equal - some are very convincing and all are out to tempt you into giving these scammers money by promising you easy money.

Hungry children, cancer kids, crumbling churches and lawyers' dead clients - whatever the content of the emails are, just direct them to the spam folder and you'll be thankful you didn't lost thousands of dollars in real cash later.

The bottom line: Don't believe everything that everyone says online, especially if they are people you don't know. If you want to do your part for a good cause, log on to a reputable site and check its records before you drop the buck, and even then, do so with a third party online payment service such as Paypal. As for the dead lawyers' clients, you'd probably have better luck finding buried treasure in the cemetery.

5. Believe every single good offer

It's the blue pill no more. Now, check out this green wonder pill that helps boost your sex life, lose weight, and make you irresistible to the opposite sex.

Or, check out this wonderful offer of a brand new iPhone, which will be mailed to you right after you sign up for a free ringtone trail service!

If these offers sounds too good to be true, they probably are. Unscrupulous sellers often peddle fake, untested or even harmful 'diet pills' and miracle remedies online.

Expensive gifts for free sign-ups too, are likely to involve additional invisible charges like a commitment period, exorbitant fees cancellation fees and other ways for such service providers to wring you of your cash.

The bottom line: Never sign up for anything online without doing additional research first. Google the Internet for comments from other buyers, or check the legitimacy and authenticity of a product from an official website before making a purchase.

6. Leave your email addresses everywhere

Have you ever signed up for a free online newsletter in order to get a small freebie? There's no way you can get into trouble just by submitting your email address, right? Wrong.

Leaving your email address with too many sites, or posting the addresses in online forums and blogs will tell little computer programs searching the Internet that the address is a legitimate one.

These little programs, called web crawlers, might belong to spammers eager to send you tons of useless email about sex pills and timeshare holidays. By posting your email address everywhere, you're only telling them that this is the place where they can contact you.

The bottom line: Don't want spam? Guard your primary email address closely and only submit it to reputable sites. For everything else, use a secondary email address in which you won't mind receiving the additional spam.

7. Download free software

This game is fun, and it's free, so you should download it because everyone else is doing it, right?

Downloading free software, or freeware, is not against the law, so you don't need to worry about going to jail just because you have Invaders 2009 in your PC.

But software from less reputable sources might include hidden programs that can be installed into your computer along with the downloaded software. These software have the potential to then compromise the security of your computer, or create an endless stream of popup ads on your browser as you surf the Internet.

The bottom line: Only download software from reputable, verified sources. Always let your anti-virus and malware/adware scanner check the program before starting the download or install process.

8. Read this story on your mobile phone without a data plan

If you're reading this page on your mobile phone and you have no idea what a data plan is, close your browser now. Worse, if you are reading this page on your mobile phone overseas, turn it off now and check your bank account for sufficient funds.

Data charges can amount to quite a hefty sum, and this is especially true for mobile phone uses with no data plan.
Surfing the Internet, receiving and sending email or chatting on instant messaging are just some of the things you can do with smartphones that require a data transfer. Because your local telco doesn't belong to Santa Claus, data transfer isn't free.

If you're overseas, data charges are even higher. Loading a simple, regular webpage like this can run up to about (gasp!) $8.

The bottom line: If your phone has Wi-Fi, make sure that function is turn on instead of the 3G feature when surfing the web. Want to use more broadband services while on the go? Get a data plan. For those going overseas, check with your destination country's local telco to see if there are any prepaid card plans and dongles for sale or rent. They won't come cheap, but at least you don't have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in phone bills.

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