How to Protect Ourselves and Our Families Online (Pt. 1)
There’s something daunting about the internet. As a user, I understand how it works. An impossibly large number of computers are all communicating with one another across wires, allowing access to the shared information of all of humanity. As an IT professional, I understand how to access and channel it. Routers, switches, servers, copper and fiberglass wiring; these are my stock and trade. As a child of the 90s, I remember how it started. The grinding, cacophonous squeal as I tried to call my friend on the home phone while my mom checked her email; the first AIM chatrooms with the dangers they introduced. I am, by my interests, profession, and age, quite competent in the internet and its pitfalls. A lifetime of being the “computer guy” and a decade of making a living from it would lead you to believe that, were there anyone immune to the snares of the world wide web, it would be me.
However, I will be the first to tell you that, despite all of this, the internet and even computers in general are enigmas that only the smartest or most conniving professionals will claim to fully comprehend. I am not immune to the lures set on the internet, nor is anyone who takes the risk of going online. I say this as an encouragement! The internet is a vast place, full of treasures and dangers in equal measure. If you find yourself overwhelmed and worried about your children’s safety, then you are not alone! Fortunately, my experience has equipped me with the knowledge to traverse the forest of the internet and the tools to get my foot out of the proverbial beartrap, should I find myself stuck.
Over the next several posts, it is my earnest desire to impart these tools to you, to help protect you and your family from the dangers of the web. I will be dividing them into three parts:
- “Protection from People"
- “Protection from Programs"
- “Protection from Self"
Each of these will be designed to offer insight into some of the sources of each problem as well as affordable tools that you may already have at your disposal that can help. Be advised—nothing that I offer will be an absolute cure to the ails of the web. It is, by its nature, a constantly evolving beast that seeks to avoid the safeguards we set. These tips will be tools meant to work alongside the true solution to protection: vigilance. Only by taking an active interest in your family’s internet use and leveraging available technology will you be able to protect your home from its dangers and teach your children how to use it wisely. I truly wish my answer was a “set it and forget it” panacea, but, sadly, that will never be the case. But fear not! Together, I believe we can harvest the gifts of the internet while minimizing risk to our homes and loved ones.
About the Author
Ian Campbell is a tier three IT Technician at TCS and has been in the business for over ten years. He is a Wheaton graduate who enjoys games, hiking, and going to the movies. He lives with his wife and twin daughters in Burke where they visit farmer’s markets and traverse wooded trails.