Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Internet Safety" with Tom Underhill

Tom Underhill, the founder of Creative Continuum, and writer of eight books, presented Internet Safety for Genealogists and Everyone Else to the Chula Vista Genealogical Society yesterday at the program meeting held at the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library.

The summary of Tom's talk and his CV are here.

Tom's presentation was based on ideas and concepts found in his recent book (co-authored with Andy Pomeroy), Lock the Boogie Man Out of Your Computer. The talk was more than about genealogy research - it also focused on risk avoidance and Internet safety for all family members, including children. The talk included segments on understanding the danger, keeping your computer system up-to-date, computer location in the home, social networks and online dating guidelines, user passwords, understanding your browser, email security, and dealing with Instant Messaging (IM), texting, peer-to-peer (P2P) and cell phone images.

For me, the most useful segment was setting secure passwords - Tom recommended avoiding using names, birthdays, dates or easy words, and he recommended using letters, numbers and non-standard characters in one word that you can remember. His example was b0xc@r (where the "o" is a "zero" and the "a" is an ampersand). Then have a unique password for every web site based on your "secret word" by combining it with the web site. For instance a password for might be b0xc@rdell and for might be b0xc@rblogger. That sounded pretty easy to me. Now for a secret word to remember...

His warnings about Internet browsing was to understand how popups work, and to not click on them. For email, he advised that you not open attachments, and be very wary of email from banks and web sites that might be scams or hoaxes. You should keep your operating system, browser, and email software up-to-date. He pointed out that most anti-virus software is reactive, not proactive.

Tom recommended that parents reserve the right to check all emails and messages to and from their children (and do it), and that the family computer be placed in an open area where everybody can see who is using it and what they are seeing online.All in all, this was an excellent program for everyone with a computer and children (or grandchildren). Tom has five children, so he has lots of experience in dealing with these issues.

His book expands on the issues, and many more, that he discussed here.

This was an informative and timely presentation for the 30 society members, and there were many questions and comments after the talk. And yes, Tom threw kisses during the talk for questions, answers and comments.

No comments: