Dec 11, 2011

Tips for Safer Instant Messaging

Tips for Safer Instant Messaging
Instant messaging (commonly referred to as IM) is an online communication method similar to e-mail, except that it is generally faster. Using an IM program such as Windows Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, or Yahoo Messenger, you can send a message which will be received almost immediately by the person you sent it to. When your friend types a response, you see that right away.

Use IM more safely
Communicating by using an IM program has some of the same security and privacy risks as communicating by e-mail, but there are a few additional dangers that you should be aware of. Take a look at the following tips for safer IM.

1. Be careful when creating a screen name. Each IM program asks you to create a screen name, which is similar to an e-mail address. Your screen name should not provide or allude to personal information. For example, use a nickname such as Soccer Fan instead of JakartaFenny.

2. Create a barrier against unwanted instant messaging. Do not list your screen name or e-mail address in public areas (such as large Internet directories or online community profiles) or give them to strangers. Some IM services link your screen name to your e-mail address when you register. The easy availability of your e-mail address can result in your receiving an increased number of spam attacks.

3. Never provide sensitive personal information, such as your credit card number or password in an IM conversation.

4. Only communicate with people who are on your contact or buddy list.

5. If you decide to meet a stranger that you know only from IM communication, take appropriate safety precautions. For example, do not meet that person alone, (take a friend or parent with you), and always meet and stay in a public place, such as a cafe.

6. Never open pictures, download files, or click links in messages from people you don't know. If they come from someone you don't know, confirm with the sender that the messages (and their attachments) are trustworthy. If they are not, close them.

7. Don't send personal or private instant messages at work. Your employer might have a right to view those messages.

8. If you use a public computer, do not select the feature that allows you to log on automatically. People who use that computer after you may be able to see and use your screen name to log on.

With all these precautions, hopefully your instant messaging activity will be a smooth and safe experience.
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