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The Internet is an amazing tool, but it poses some safety risks. Before you start "surfing the net," use these tips for being a safe, smart online user:

  • Create stronger passwords. Create passwords that aren’t easy to guess, and don’t share them with others.

  • Don’t expose personal information. Be aware of how much of your personal or financial data you might be sharing with strangers on social networking sites, through e-mail, and on special-interest sites.

  • Don’t fall for e-mail scams. Online criminals may use e-mail to get your personal information and steal your identity. Or an e-mail might entice you to click a link that takes you to a bogus site or downloads malware (malicious software) to your computer.

  • Know who you’re doing business with. It’s quick and easy to create a Web site that looks legit, but not all Web sites are.

  • Be cautious with e-mail attachments. Attached files may contain malware, which can damage your computer — or it may install code that can track your activities

  • Use software to avoid malware. Several types of software products can spot and avoid viruses, spyware, and objectionable online content. Make sure you use protection.

  • Create safe e-mail aliases and usernames. Whether you're creating an e-mail account or a user account on a social networking or special-interest site, be careful how much information you give away even in your usename.

  • Find out how others might expose you. Even if you never go online, your information is probably out there. Learn to identify your exposure and stop others from revealing personal information.

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