Business-like, isn't he?



CyberSafety: Introduction

by Alan Zisman (c) 2003-2005 

The massive benefits of the Internet are obvious: access to a wealth of information, entertainment, shopping, and more. The dark side, however, is increasingly apparent as millions of users spend time online: a deluge of spam emails, hackers attempting to make use of our computers, spyware tracking our every online move, and more. This course is an attempt to look at what home-users can do do keep themselves, their computers, and their personal information safe online.

It is focusing on Windows users; the issues involved are important for users of Macs, Linux, or other systems, but there are a different set of resources and solutions for each computer system. Hopefully users of other systems will be able to find the answers they need.

While this course focuses on security issues for everyday computer users over the Internet, users should be aware that many computer security problems get less attention because they are less high tech: your computer can be stolen (an especial problem for notebook owners), with all the data lost, for instance. Do you have your password written down on a Post-it Note attached to your monitor? 

Hacker Kevin Mitnick has discussed what he called 'social engineering'; ways that with a telephone, he could talk employees into giving him access to corporate network. It's won't matter if you've installed the latest antivirus or firewall software if you tell someone your password over the phone, or if your computer is stolen from your desk or car.

In the fall of 2004, AOL and the National Cyber Security Alliance ( polled 329 Americans about security issues, then had computer technicians check the PCs used by the people polled to examine the match between the survey answers and the the state of the users' computers.

85% were running antivirus software; 71% thought it was being updated at least weekly (automatically or manually). Only about half were. Perhaps as a result, 19% (nearly one fifth) of the PCs were virus-infected. 80% had some sort of spyware on their systems; only a third were running a firewall.

These were not new computer users; on average, they had been online over six years. 42% describe themselves as intermediate or expert users. (As reported in PC Magazine: February 02, 2005:,1759,1755221,00.asp )

This course was originally developed for a course offered by the Continuing Education Department of BC's Capilano College, at North Van and Sechelt Campuses. These online pages were initially posted as a resource for students enrolled in the course and for the general public, but are being updated on an ongoing basis,

-- Alan Zisman

The CyberSafety course includes the following modules:

Know your PC
Computer Viruses
Email and Spam
Networks and wireless issues

Or cut to the chase with 7 Steps to Internet Security!

Also worth checking: PC Magazine's 11-02-2005 Maximum Security- 94 Essential Tips for Staying Safe

and Fred Langa's January 2006: 5 Essential Steps to PC Security

Update: Sept 11 2013: Katie Cook writes: " a few other resources I really want you to see. I think each would be a great addition to your site, and hope you’ll agree:

An Interactive Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet

Cyber Safety: Top 10 Tips for Youth

Parent Guide: Talk With Your Kids about Internet Safety

Internet Safety for Kids: 17 Cyber Safety Experts Share Tips for Keeping Children Safe Online"

Parents Guide to Protecting Kids Online

July 13, 2015: reader Jena Reeves suggests:

Online Checklist for Kids Safety  - the other resources listed for kids were a bit broad & a bit daunting as to where to start; this is an easy to follow checklist that makes staying safe online more practical.

Digital Safety - has a really great section on password security, something that wasn’t addressed in the other listed resources without drilling deep into them.

Safety Tips (FBI) - has a bunch of educational games that are geared to younger children and some good stuff for parents to read too.

and then there's the Beginner's Guide to Internet Safety and my 2017 Internet Security Introduction

April 21, 2017: Michaela Rogers suggests: Creating Great Digital Resilience

May 22, 2017: 8 Tips for Protecting Children and Teens Online - A Security Guide for Parents, Caregivers and Educators


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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan