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Protecting your personal information when job hunting

By David Chappelle

Guard your personal information carefully. We live in an age of electronic information gathering and storing. Once someone else has your identity, how can you prove who you are?

Recently there have been cases of online identity theft via resume and job search sites. It works like this:

Suppose Harriet posts her resume online at a legitimate job search site, hoping that an employer will see and read her resume. After a few days, Harriet receives an email from a headhunter at a placement agency, telling her she is being considered for a position with an employer who has contracted the agency to find a suitable employee. The agency won't tell Harriet who the employer is, because they are afraid she will go directly to the employer and cut them out of their commission. This is standard procedure, so far.

The agency asks Harriet to provide additional personal data so the employer can conduct a more thorough background search. Harriet complies, providing social insurance or social security number, previous addresses, previous employers, and whatever other information she is asked for. And that's the last she ever hears/reads from the agency.

Later on she will receive a call from a credit collection agency. Someone will have used her personal information to obtain a new credit card; run cash advances up past the maximum limit, and left a very bad mark on her credit record.

So…if you search for work online, and are contacted by a headhunter, you will do some checking before handing over all of your personal information, won't you? Look for the agency website. Send them an email from the contact section of the website. Telephone the agency and ask to speak with the person who initially emailed you.

David Chappelle is the author of Protect Yourself Online: How to Cover Your Assets Every Time You Log On


Anti Virus

By David Chappelle

An important part of your computer software is an anti virus program.

Careless users spread viruses. Swapping files and sharing media like CDs and floppy disks used to be the most common way for viruses to be transmitted from one system to another.

The popularity of email has really helped spread viruses. It's important to scan your machine regularly, to help prevent viruses from spreading.

When selecting an anti virus application try to determine the ease of updating. That doesn't mean buying the next version; it means the ease with which you can add new virus signatures. It should involve only one or two mouse clicks, and there should be an easily accessible button on which to click. Even better is an automatic update feature.

Update your virus signatures often, weekly if possible. Some of the better programs allow you to set up a time for the application to perform automatic updates.

By updating regularly, you'll be prepared when a new virus starts propagating.

An important feature of anti virus programs is the ability to scan new emails before you open them. If an anti virus application can't do this, pass on it and find one that does.

If you're going to burn a CD, make sure you first run a virus scan.

If someone else gives you a CD or other media, ask them if they've scanned it for viruses before they gave it to you. You'll be surprised how often they haven't. If they say they have checked it, ask them how long ago they updated their anti virus software.

There are several popular anti-virus programs. Some of these are:

McAffee which also makes Dr Solomon for Mac

Norton, from

Symantec

Kaspersky

my-eTrust is offering to take the place of the discontinued InoculateIT Personal Edition.

Housecall is a free online virus scanner from Trend Micro, also makers of PC-cillin.

One you've probably not heard of is AVG, by Grisoft. A free version of this application is available at the website

David Chappelle is the author of Protect Yourself Online: How to Cover Your Assets Every Time You Log On


Online Privacy

By David Chappelle

If you ever use someone else's computer, or a public computer such as in a library or Internet cafe, please take precautions and cover your tracks. If you don't, then anyone else who uses that computer after you can see where you surfed to and what you did there.

You can delete items in your Internet Explorer (IE) History folder from the "Clear History" button in IE. You must also "Delete Files", otherwise known as "cache". Even after clearing them, in some versions of IE the "Address" Bar and "History" folders will appear full until after you've closed and restarted the browser.

By right-clicking on the "Start" button, you can access "Windows Explorer" to find and delete "Temporary Internet Files".

And you probably have a disk full of cookies, which will indicate everywhere you've been on the web. Use Windows Explorer to find your cookie folder, and delete everything in there except "Index".

Regardless of what you delete, the "Temp" and "Recent" folders will contain roughly the last 15 or so things you've done and looked at. So close all of the applications and documents you used, and delete the icons from "Temp" and "Recent" too.

Then empty your Recycle Bin.

Note: When you delete a file in Windows, you've only deleted the file header; the data still remains on the hard drive. But if the header is gone, it is difficult for most people to discover the file; it almost takes a forensic computing technician using special software to find anything. Thankfully, most of them are solving crimes, not perpetrating them.

If you ever want to wipe out data on your personal system, the simplest way is to delete the hard drive partition, create a new one, format the new partition, and then install the operating system. If that sounds/reads like too much trouble, contact your local computer technician.

While I've neither tested nor used any of them, and I'm certainly NOT endorsing them, a few commercially available programs claim to delete data from file space, such as , File Wipe, Evidence Eliminator File Assurity, and others you can find by searching on the web.

David Chappelle is the author of Protect Yourself Online: How to Cover Your Assets Every Time You Log On


Webmail

By Dave Chappelle

Suppose you'd like to subscribe to a newsletter, or perhaps several newsletters. But you don't want to clog up the inbox of your email program, especially if you're not going to check it regularly. You might be a candidate for a webmail account.

You can use webmail from another computer. When used on resumes and other important correspondence, a webmail address can be accessed from any computer connected to the Internet, even when your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is down. If someone you know is always sending you stupid jokes and other garbage, give them your webmail address instead of your personal email address.

Most people use Hotmail and Yahoo for free webmail. However, there are plenty of other free webmail services. Do a search on "free webmail" and you'll find hundreds of possibilities, from Catholic Webmail to Second Amendment supporters Keep and Bear Arms.com.

To use most webmail, you'll have to enable cookies in your web browser. Make sure you erase the cookies when you're done, especially if you're using a computer that isn't yours.

Not all webmail sites are free. For example, I Hate Clowns.com charges an annual fee for webmail service.

Is paying a yearly fee the price for good webmail? You'll have to decide for yourself if the extra service is worth the price. For example, Hotmail has been known to delete huge amounts of mail during server maintenance. Yet many formerly free webmail services are no longer in business. Paying a fee is no guarantee, but it might offer you peace of mind.

David Chappelle is the author of Protect Yourself Online: How to Cover Your Assets Every Time You Log On

www.protectyourselfonline.com