How Internet Surveys Can Lead to Computer Viruses


by Barbara J. Feldman on June 29, 2007

It seems like it would be impossible to get a virus by sending something. Viruses usually come from receiving something, right? Often computer users are not as careful as they could be when they are entering information onto online forms. A user should be very careful because online forms are a method that the bad guys use to get access to your computer.
You can put your self at risk from viruses, pop-ups, and malware (unwanted ad and spy wear) by filling out online forms. There are some ways to use Internet forms safely.
One thing to do (or rather, not do) is never put personal information onto an online form. There is no reason that anyone needs to know your personal information on the Internet. Even if you don’t have spyware yet, your information is subject to spyware as soon as you put info on another person’s computer.
Another thing that you can do to protect yourself while filling out online forms is to only put personal information (like your name, address, and email) on secure sites. There will be times that you want to buy or sell something on the Internet. If you want to use the Internet for business you will have to be sure that you are entering information into a secure form that is protected from ad and spyware. To know if you are looking at a secure site look at the menu bar at the bottom of the page. If there is a little yellow lock, then the site is secure.

Learn to delete your cookies. Every time you enter information into an online form that information is saved on your computer. Cookies allow this information to be shared with the cookie maker. You can delete your cookies by going to Tools and then clicking on the Internet option. In Internet options is a section called “browsing history”; you can opt to delete your browsing history.
Deleting your browsing history also allows you to delete the passwords that are stored in the computer and all the sites you have surfed to. It also gets rid of “temporary files” that often hide bad files.
If you want to delete the words you have typed into search engines, they are a little harder to remove. You have to go to each site and find the way to clear the history. This is a good idea, however, because spyware keeps an eye on these keywords and sells your name and email address to people selling what you are looking for.
Another reason it is a bad idea to put personal information online is the risk of identity theft. There are people who have ruined their own lives that are waiting for an opportunity to step in to ruin yours. Teens might be particularly vulnerable to this sort of identity theft. The reason for this is that a criminal could take the identity of a teenager and be certain of getting a ‘fresh start”. The teen will probably not even apply for credit for a few years and by that time, it will be too late.
Don’t let criminals get to know you; then the criminals can’t pretend to be you. There are times that you might want to create some sort of blog or online profile. Do this carefully and use a site that requires your friends to have a password to get on. Update your password regularly and don’t give it out.
The best way to protect your self online is to use anti-viral software and to use your head. You don’t want to be throwing your personal information out there. Every time you type information into an unsecured site you are posting it on a billboard for the world to see. Think before you click. Is this information for the world to see? Do you care if everybody can see your digits? We can all think of at least one person that we wouldn’t want to have our information. Posting on the Internet gives the information to exactly that person.


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