During last 3-4 years the number of internet users in Estonia has doubled but computer skills have fallen. Something like giving the right to drive cars for everybody, even to these people who don't have license for driving. The situation on roads would be something like in the Internet today.

To make your life easier in virtual world, we will remind you some simple but important rules.

1) Be patient. Read this text all the way through even if you think you know it all there might be something you learn! This will take less then five minutes. :-)

2) Be sceptical. Think twice before you open unknown file which has been sent to you by mail. Be careful even when you know the person who sent this mail - first of all not all friends are good and secondly some viruses use mail senders names and change them to whatever they want and send emails to the mail address owner's friends. So, when your friend's computer has a virus you might get the same virus through emails from friends.

Files can also come through MSN or ICQ or you can download them from FTP or Kazaa. Always make sure that this is the file you wanted. Check with antivirus and use your common sense. For example it's pretty unbelievable that your friend's picture has *.exe extension.

3) Be careful. Don't give your passwords to strangers, use your email address, internet bank account and user login passwords carefully. Don't write your passwords down - If someone discovered your passwords written down, they could do alot of damage. Memorise your passwords. If someone discovers your passwords then change it as soon as possible.

Choose more complicated passwords. Your pet's name is not a good idea. Also your friend's pet's name is not a good idea. You should choose a complicated password which at the same time is easy to remember. Don't use the same password everywhere, you can loose all your 9 virtual lives but not so virtual money.

3) Be security conscious. If a stranger is around your computer then make sure that the person doesn't install anything on your computer that can save your passwords. If somebody is visiting you and wants to use your computer becareful or at least be next to that person to see what's going on. It's possible that it might look some what impolite but explain to your friend that it's nothing personal. Your friend should understand. If he/she doesn't understand then you made the right choice to keep an eye on that person.

If you use computers in school/at work/ in internet cafe (and again at your friend's house) then don't enter your important passwords there and don't have confidential correspondence. Almost everything is possible to save and most of it is actually saved - you might need to make new mail address or earn new money afterwards.

4) Take precautions. Antivirus software, software for removing spyware and firewall are there for your security. If you don't know what they are then it's time to find out.

For example drivers mostly know what a gearbox is and how it works or what functions the wheel has. A car's life and other peoples lives, depends on the knowledge the driver has. In your case - your money in your internet bank account, your mail address, all kinds of interesting sites you have accounts on too. All this can be stolen. Read books, consult with your internet savy friends, talk to your IT teacher, visit "Discover world" courses.

5) Be up-to-date. Security measures are useful but they also expire. New viruses are invented all the time and new spyware versions and your security measures are aging every day. Fortunately they can be updated automatically. If you can't manage yourself with updating your protection software then ask someone to help you.

Also your operating system needs to be refreshed (for example: Windows, Linux). Ask when you buy, how to do this. If you can't manage then ask someone to help you.

- you must remember that operating systems were invented by people. These people can make mistakes and because of their mistakes hackers could be able to access your computer. You already know how these bad people can abuse that access to your computer. Fortunately operating systems programmers, discover their mistakes from time to time and are fix them. So it is important to update your system with these updates.

Exactly the same way refresh your browser if it's not refreshed together with your operating system.

6) Don't loose faith. If your password has been stolen and you have lost your MSN or Top.al account for example then contact the site immedately. if it is a site where they are also storing money in an account for you, you will also need to inform the police, as this is idenity theft which is a criminal offence.
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