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25 July 2003

Info Tech Coalition Launches Online Security Awareness Campaign

Web site provides information clearinghouse for online problems, concerns

Some of the biggest names in cyberspace have teamed up to provide online consumers with answers to common problems and concerns encountered in navigating the Internet. The coalition launched GetNetWise.org July 24.

GetNetWise offers tools and resources to enable consumers to have a "safe, secure and positive online experience," according to a July 24 press release. The Web site was initially launched in 1999 to provide parents with information on how to protect their children in the Internet environment, but has now been expanded with information of use to all, including suggestions on how to stop unwanted e-mail, protecting the home computer from hackers and viruses, and ensuring the security of private information.

Companies such as America Online, AT&T, Microsoft, Amazon.com and Yahoo! are supporting GetNetWise, which is managed by the Internet Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

Following is a text of the press release and tip sheets for online conduct issued with the launch of the new site:

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July 24, 2003

Campaign to Provide Roadmap and Resources for a Safe and Secure Online Experience

Washington, DC -- A coalition of leading Internet companies and public interest organizations today announced the newly expanded version of GetNetWise.org, GetNetWise 2.0, an online educational campaign with tools and resources to ensure a safe, secure and positive online experience for Internet users. www.GetNetWise.org can be found on the most popular entry points to the Internet, as well as on many of the most recognized Web sites. Do you know how to secure your computer against hackers and viruses? Do you know how to filter some forms of spam out of your computer? Do you know how to control cookies in your browser? "The answer to hundreds of computer and Internet related questions can now be found in one simple, user-friendly resource -- GetNetWise.org. The GetNetWise coalition is a broad, unprecedented partnership committed to providing resources for consumers to make their Internet experience the best it can be," said Jerry Berman, president of The Internet Education Foundation.

GetNetWise was originally launched in 1999 and focused exclusively on child safety issues confronting parents. As the Internet changes so do the challenges facing consumers online, which is the reason the nation's biggest and most influential online organizations have come together to launch the next generation of GetNetWise.

The GetNetWise coalition consists of companies and organizations committed to providing users the tools and information they need to better control their online experiences. As more and more tools are developed to help educate consumers to take charge of their online experiences, the coalition feels a broader empowerment effort is essential.

The newly expanded GetNetWise is aggregated into four, well-organized and easy-to-use areas of interest to Internet users:

-- Keeping Children Safe Online -- A comprehensive resource on recognizing and reporting problems, educating your kids about safe and unsafe experiences online and finding tech tools for families.

-- Stopping Unwanted E-mail and Spam -- This information on how to help alleviate unwanted e-mails in your inbox includes tips, tools and instructions on how to take action if necessary.

-- Protecting Your Computer from Hackers and Viruses -- Information about the risks that hackers and viruses prose to your computer files and software and how to prevent such attacks.

-- Keeping Your Personal Information Private -- A guide that includes tools and techniques to better control how much personal information you share with online stores, Web sites, e-mailers and other people who may use your computer.

Perhaps the most exciting new features on GetNetWise.org are the interactive tutorials and GetNetWise TV. The interactive tutorials allow users to "follow along" with a cyber-teacher who will walk through the steps necessary to improve and enhance online experiences. All programs have been developed in Flash animation format so that 97% of all Web browsers have the capability to access these resources. GetNetWise TV offers advice in short video clips from leading experts on computer use and safety.

GetNetWise is a project managed by the Internet Education Foundation and is hosted by some of the most recognized names on the Internet today, including America Online, Inc., AT&T, Microsoft and Verizon. Additionally, GetNetWise is supported by a steering committee made up of the following leading organizations: American Library Association, Amazon.com, Center for Democracy and Technology, Comcast, Earthlink, Inc., Recording Industry Association, Visa USA and Yahoo!. Advisory board members include: Call for Action, Center for Internet Security, The Children's Partnership, Consortium for School Networking, Consumer Action, Donna Rice Hughes, Internet Content Rating Association, Larry Magid, National Consumers League, Net Family News, People for the American Way, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Wired Patrol. GetNetWise promotional partners include the Better Business Bureau and privacy seal program TRUSTe.

About GetNetWise

The GetNetWise coalition wants Internet users to be only "one click away" from the resources they need to make informed decisions about their and their family's use of the Internet.

GetNetWise is a broad-based campaign managed and built by the Internet Education Foundation and is hosted by some of the most recognized names on the Internet today, including America Online, Inc., AT&T, Microsoft and Verizon. GetNetWise is supported by a steering committee made up of the following leading organizations: ALA, Amazon.com, CDT, Comcast, Earthlink, Inc., RIAA, Visa USA and Yahoo!, and advised by a diverse advisory board. For more information, please visit http://www.GetNetWise.org.

Tips Tools and Take Action

Kids Tips

Keeping children safe on the Internet is everyone's job.

-- Parents need to stay in close touch with their kids as they explore the Internet.

-- Teachers need to help students use the Internet appropriately and safely.

-- Community groups, including libraries, after-school programs and others should help educate the public about safe surfing.

-- Kids and teens need to learn to take responsibility for their own behavior -- with guidance from their families and communities.

-- It's not at all uncommon for kids to know more about the Internet and computers than their parents or teachers. If that's the case in your home or classroom, don't despair. You can use this as an opportunity to turn the tables by having your child teach you a thing or two about the Internet. Ask her where she likes to go on the Internet and what she thinks you might enjoy on the Net. Get your child to talk with you about what's good and not so good about his Internet experience. Also, no matter how Web-literate your kid is, you should still provide guidance. You can't automate good parenting.

Kids Take Action:

Who should you contact for help?

Once they have identified a serious problem, parents are often confused about who to turn to for help. Even though the criminal can't be seen and the crime happens over computer and phone wires, it is important to remember that most crimes on the Internet can be handled like crimes in the real world. If there is an immediate personal threat of harm to your child, call 911, as with similar emergencies offline.

Local Police: There is no national agency that deals with every type of Internet crime, so local law enforcement is generally your best resource. Select your home state for more information on how to contact your state police. Your local police can help you determine your legal rights and responsibilities since laws for protecting children and families vary from state to state. More information about your legal rights and responsibilities is also available. Your local police can also help you identify and contact national child advocacy groups that may have expertise in dealing with specific types of crimes.

National child advocacy groups: There are several national child advocacy groups providing specialized assistance with problems in the real world that can also address these problems when they occur online. They run 24-hour help lines, provide educational materials, make referrals for local family support groups, and offer many other problem-specific resources. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) runs a CyberTipline , where you can report incidents of child sexual exploitation, including child pornography, online enticement of children for sexual acts, child prostitution, child-sex tourism and child sexual molestation. You can also call them at 1-800-843-5678. More information on contacting national advocacy groups is also available.

Federal Law Enforcement

Many times Internet crimes fall under federal jurisdiction. In a situation that is not an emergency in which you encounter some criminal activity that might involve your child, consider contacting law enforcement agencies at the federal level.

Here are two examples:

For child-luring -- when, through contact online, an adult tries to "lure" a child to meet face-to-face -- you can contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If you encounter child pornography -- sexually explicit material involving minors -- call the US Customs Service at 1-800-BE-ALERT. For information, go to the US Customs Web site.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Downloading or making a copy of child pornography for any reason -- even to provide it as evidence to law enforcement -- is a crime in the United States. If you run across what you believe to be child pornography, you should record the URL (Web address) and report only that to law enforcement.

Here are some other federal agencies that deal with crimes on the Web:

-- US Postal Inspection Service
-- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
-- Drug Enforcement Administration

Security Tips

Are you on broadband or dial-up?

Whether you use dial-up or high-speed Internet access, you could be vulnerable to hackers or viruses. Below are tips to help ensure online security.

Always use anti-virus software -- And keep the software up-todate. Over 500 new viruses are discovered each month. You are not just protecting yourself when using virus software, but also others you communicate with.

Always use a firewall -- A firewall is an "internal lock" for information on your computer. Many computer operating systems already have firewalls installed, you just have to turn them on. There are many other firewalls available to download or buy that help you secure your computer.

Be aware of what you share -- You can be exposed to danger via e-mail, file-sharing, a broadband connection or a Wi-Fi connection.

Disconnect from the Internet when idle -- If you are not using your Internet connection, turn it off. No one can attack your computer when it is not connected to the Internet. This is especially important if you have a high-speed connection.

Use unique passwords -- And don't share your passwords with anyone.

Be in control of your software -- The software and operating system on your computer have many features, many you may not use. Learn about these features. Use the security features available and turn off any extraneous options that leave your computer vulnerable.

Use tools to enhance your protection -- Learn about tools that can help to protect you from viruses and hackers.

Take action, immediately -- If you think you have been hacked or infected by a virus contact your ISP.

Security Tools:


Keep hackers and criminals out of your computer by activating your built-in firewall or downloading a firewall for your computer. Firewall software will allow you to surf the Internet and download content you want, but it will also prevent hackers from getting into your computer. Learn how to activate your built-in firewall or choose from a range of firewalls ready to download.

Antivirus Software

Even the most e-mail-savvy user can't stop every virus from entering their computer. Anti-virus software, when it is kept up-to-date, can stop most viruses from causing damage to your computer and other computers. Most anti-virus software can be downloaded from the Internet. Check our database for a list of anti-virus products.

E-mail Filters

Many viruses are passed via e-mail. To cut down on the amount of unwanted and unknown email that fills your inbox, use e-mail filters. Many e-mail clients have filters built-in to the program.

Security Take Action

Disconnect When Infected or Hacked - If you feel that your computer has been hacked or infected by a virus, immediately disconnect it from the Internet (unplug the phone or cable line). Use a non-infected computer to download up-to-date virus software. Then run the antivirus program to clean up the problem. Remember to always keep your anti-virus and firewall software up-to-date and running in the background to prevent problems.

Report Serious Intrusions, Hacks or Viruses -- After you have taken steps to clean out viruses or hackers, report serious incidents to your Internet Service Provider. Try to include information from your anti-virus software or firewall incident or log report. Learn more. If you think the intrusion is more serious, you also can report incidents to the FBI at www.ifccfbi.gov.

Spam Tips

Use a unique e-mail address -- Pick an address that is hard for spammers to guess and easy for you to remember. Also, if chatting online, use a unique screen name that is not associated with your e-mail address.

Use multiple e-mail addresses -- Consider creating separate addresses or accounts that can be used for online purchases, chat rooms and other public postings. You can also use a free forwarding address.

"Mask" your e-mail address -- If you post your e-mail address online consider masking your address. There are several ways to correctly mask your address and thwart spammers.

Check the privacy policy when you submit your address to a Web site -- Always be familiar with a Website's privacy policy before submitting any information. Learn more about how to read a privacy policy.

If it sounds too good to be true, -- it probably is. Fraudsters, scammers and crooks take advantage of people via unwanted email.

Use tools to help prevent spam -- Learn about tools that can filter or tag spam before it fills your e-mail inbox.

Spam Tools:

You can use your delete key to manage your incoming junk email, but there are other options available. Many of the programs you regularly use have capabilities that can help you deal with spam.

Use a junk mail filter -- Learn more about junk mail filters and how to use them. View video tutorials for activating these filters in Eudora for the PC, Entourage for the Macintosh, AOL8 and Hotmail.

Download other tools to help prevent spam -- There are many other tools available that help you filter, block and report spam.

Spam Take Action:

Take action against unwanted e-mails that you receive. The authorities cannot respond to spammers without complaints about spammers' activities. Reporting these messages to the appropriate authorities can get the spammer's current account closed. It will also help prevent others from being victimized by the spammer. The authorities may also choose to prosecute for fraudulent or deceptive e-mails.

Report to The Federal Trade Commission -- The FTC wants your unwanted e-mail messages and reports of any e-mail unsubscribe link that is deceptive. Help the FTC fight unwanted and deceptive e-mails.

Contact the Internet Service Provider (ISP) -- You can either contact your ISP or the spammer's ISP to report unwanted e-mails.

Contact Law Enforcement Authorities -- Threatening, inappropriate and unwanted e-mails can also be reported to law enforcement authorities. More information is available on the appropriate contacts.

Privacy Tips

Is your information safe while you are browsing the web?

Learn how to protect your privacy while browsing, shopping, communicating and sharing your online computer.

Browsing Tips

Change your Web browser's cookie settings -- Before you decide to change your browser's cookie setting, first learn a little more about cookies. If you're concerned about cookies tracking the Web pages you visit, the tools section will walk you through how to change the cookie settings of your Web browser with animated video tutorials.

Purge from your home computer traces of your Web travel Our Sharing section shows users how they can prevent people with whom they share their computer from viewing traces of their web travels. If you would rather keep people in your home, apartment or dorm room from seeing which Web sites you've visited, learn how to delete those traces from your computer.

Always read privacy policies of the sites you frequent -- Many Web sites will provide information about whether -- and for what purpose -- they use cookies. Just as it's important to read a privacy policy when shopping, you should also read a privacy policy to determine how a site uses information gathered from your cookies.

Opt-out of profiling by Network Advertisers -- Since Network Advertising Companies serve up many of the Web page advertisements you see on Web sites across the Internet; they are in a unique position to view your browsing patterns. You can prevent them from creating a profile from your browsing patterns by visiting their Web site at NetworkAdvertising.org.

Shopping Tips:

Know who you're buying from -- When shopping online deal only with reputable companies and give them only enough information to make the purchase. Learn how to identify reputable companies and to read a privacy policy.

Make sure your purchases and information are secure -- Use credit cards to limit your financial exposure, look to see if the web transaction is securely encrypted, and be careful with your passwords.

Learn to spot unscrupulous marketers and fraudsters before you shop -- Learn to spot a scam before you fall for it. Also, find out where to look to see if marketers will misuse your personal information.

Check company policies and keep records of your purchases -- Before you buy, make sure you're aware of the company's policies on returns, warranties, etc. After you buy, keep good records of your purchases and keep an eye on your credit card statements.

Communicating Tips:

Understand the concerns associated with e-mail -- First you should understand some of the privacy concerns that may be associated when communicating online via e-mail.

Know the recipient -- Make sure that your e-mail recipient is a trustworthy person and will not forward your e-mail on to others without your consent.

Use a password -- If you share your computer with others -- such as family members or roommates -- use an e-mail application that can be password protected.

Delete local copies of messages -- You can also delete the local copy of your sent e-mail message by opening the "sent" or "out" folder in your e-mail program and deleting the message. You will also need to then open the "deleted" or "trash" folder in your email program and delete the message one more time to make sure that it is removed from your email application.

Learn more about unwanted e-mails -- You can learn more about unwanted e-mails. Visit spam.GetNetWise.org

Sharing Tips:

Learn how to erase traces of your Web travels -- Make sure others cannot access your history and cache files.

Keep files and data on your computer hidden from others -- If you share a computer, you may want to keep certain sensitive files private. Whether they are word processing documents or photos, there are many ways to keep others from viewing them while using your computer.

-- Use Removable Disks or External Drives to Save Data.
-- Use the "Hide" Feature to Mask Sensitive Files and Folders in Your PC.
-- Delete and Double Delete Erased Data.

Thoroughly delete your email files -- If you use an email program like Outlook or Eudora chances are all your email, sent and received, can be accessed by anyone you share a computer with. If you want to keep those emails private, there are several things you can do. Use strong passwords -- and don't share them with anyone.

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(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)