Download 2006 Internet Norton Security and Enjoy Connecting to the World

Owning a computer is not as easy as others might think. It involves monetary consideration; the latest computer system that you want to have, the more you need to spend to acquire it. It may be one of your huge financial investments, thus you need to protect it against harmful elements, especially if it is connected to the Internet. 

You are probably aware of the risks of getting your computer connected to the Internet. Yes, you will have easy access to the information that you are looking for, purchase things without getting out of your residence, or transact business right at the comfort of your own bedroom. However, beyond the benefits you can get from the Internet lies the truth that there are data thieves and online hackers who will not hesitate to give you the worst experience in using the Internet. 

They will field programs that you will think are harmless but will be killing your computer system “slowly but surely”. Before you realize that you have encountered a virus program, your computer is now running slowly, there are many pop-ups flashing into your screen, and later your computer will no longer boot. It is the end of your Internet experience—and the loss of your huge monetary investment. 

You want to avoid it? Then, you must consider Internet security as one of your top priorities. Keep in mind that “a single precaution is better than a hundred cure”, thus you need to install necessary Internet security softwares that will protect your computer system against these online threats and unwanted intrusions. 

At this point, you should consider a 2006 Internet Norton Security download for your computer system. It is an Internet security software produced by Symantec Corporation under the Norton brand which is compatible to Windows 2000 and XP operating systems. It provides protection for your computer against hackers, viruses, spam, and software. It has several key features, which are the following:
  • The Norton Anti-Virus (which is commonly used to scan email attachments for any presence of virus), Norton Personal Firewall, Norton Anti-Spam, and Norton Parental Control. 
  • It provides 12 months of protection updates, which will keep your computer system secured against latest Internet risks by renewing subscription automatically. 
  • It will scan any presence of viruses, computer worms, and Trojan horses and prevent them from infecting your computer system. 
  • It automatically blocks intruders and unauthorized individuals from using your online accounts and getting access to your personal data. 
  • It automatically filters spam. 
  • It blocks websites that contains pornographic contents, which is believed to have some forms of viruses. 
  • Gives you control to all outgoing and incoming Internet traffic form and to your computer system. 
  • It scans email attachments and removes viruses and other similar online threats, if there is any. 

You can download the 2006 version of Norton Internet Security from different download sites authorized by Symantec. However, this Internet security software is not available for free download. You need to pay necessary subscription fees to download and use the software for your computer system. It has minimum system requirements, thus it is compatible for your computer system and you will not have hard time downloading it from the Internet. 

Enjoy connecting to the world without the fear of online threats. With the 2006 edition of Norton Internet Security, you are always in good hands.

14 Household Ways To Protect Your Computer From Viruses

Computer viruses are deadly.  They often spread without any apparent contact and can be a nuisance, or even worse, fatal to your computer.  Individuals who create these viruses, estimated at 10-15 new ones a day, are the electronic version of terrorists.  Their goal is to inflict havoc and destruction on as many people as possible by disabling, stealing, damaging, or destroying computer and information resources.  Often, they have no specific target in mind, so no one is safe.  If you access the internet, share files or your computer with others, or load anything from diskettes, CDs, or DVDs onto your computer, you are vulnerable to viruses.

Fortunately, there are good guys working just as hard as the hackers to develop cures for viruses as quickly as they send them off into cyberspace.  And there are many things you can do to keep your computer from catching viruses in the first place.

14 Household Ways To Protect Your Computer From Viruses
Defining Viruses:

A virus is a small computer program that can copy and spread itself from one computer to another, with or without the help of the user.  However, viruses typically do more than just be fruitful and multiply, which is bad enough in itself because it hogs system resources.  Anything else viruses are programmed to do, from displaying annoying messages to destroying files, is called their payload.  Often, they cannot deliver their payload until an unsuspecting user does something to make the virus execute its programmed function.  This could be as simple as clicking on an innocent looking file attachment with the .exe (executable) extension.

Catching a Virus:

Most viruses are spread through e-mail attachments because it's the easiest way to do it.  Although Macintosh, Unix, and Linux systems can catch viruses, hackers are particularly keen on exploiting the security weaknesses in anything Microsoft, particularly Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express.  Because of the popularity of this software, hackers get maximum bang for their buck, and they probably get some satisfaction from continually reminding Microsoft that being big doesn't mean you're perfect.

1:  Anti-virus Software

Your first line of defense is to install anti-virus software.  To be extra safe, also install firewall software, which is now included in some anti-virus packages.  This software can scan all of your drives for viruses and neutralize them.  Here are some features to consider when evaluating anti-virus software.

- Compatibility with your operating system - Make sure the software works with your system, particularly if you are using an older operating system like Windows 98.

- Firewall software - If it's not included, find out if it's available.  If you must, buy it from another vendor.

- Automatic background protection - This means your software will constantly scan behind the scenes for infections and neutralize them as they appear.  This provides some peace of mind.

- Automatic, frequent updates - Because new viruses appear every day, you'll want regular updates.  It's even better if they occur automatically when you connect to the internet.  If automatic updating isn't included, you'll have to check the vendor's website and download updates yourself.  This is vitally important, because you will not be protected from new viruses if your software is out of date.

- Disaster recovery - Software with a recovery utility to help you get your system back to normal after a virus attack is always good to have.

- ICSA certification - The International Computer Security Associatioin has standards for the detection rates of anti-virus software.  Make sure your software has the ICSA certification.

- Technical support - It's a good idea to select a package that offers free technical support, either online or through a toll-free number.  If you're ever felled by a virus, you may need it.  Some anti-virus software vendors are Symantec Corporation (Norton AntiVirus), McAfee Corporation (McAfee VirusScan), Trend Micro Inc. (PC-cillin), and Zone Labs Inc. (Zone Alarm Suite).

2: The Virus Scan

If you receive a particularly juicy attachment that you're dying to open, save it on your Windows desktop and run your anti-virus software on it first.  To do this, click once gently on the file on your desktop ... don't actually open it ... then right click and choose Scan with (Name of Anti-Virus Software) to activate a virus scan.

If it's infected, your anti-virus software may neutralize it, or at least tell you the attachment is too dangerous to open.  On the other hand, don't feel guilty if the very thought of saving a potentially damaging file anywhere on your system is enough to quell your eagerness to open it and make you delete it immediately.

3: Delete first, ask questions later.

When in doubt about the origin of an e-mail, the best thing to do is delete it without previewing or opening it.  However, some viruses, such as Klez, propagate by fishing in people's address books and sending themselves from any contact they find to another random contact.  You can spread a virus just by having people in your address book, even if you don't actually e-mail them anything.  They'll receive it from someone else in your address book, which really makes life confusing.  Because of the proliferation of porn on the internet, e-mail viruses often tempt victims by using sexual filenames, such as nudes.exe.  Don't fall for it.

4: Beware of virus hoaxes

E-mails warning you about viruses are almost always hoaxes.  You may be tempted to believe them because you typically receive them from well-meaning friends, who received them from friends, etc.  These e-mails themselves usually aren't viruses, but some have actually fallen into the hands of hackers who loaded them with viruses and forwarded them merrily on their way as a sick joke.

The proliferation of e-mails about virus hoaxes can become nearly as bad as a real virus.  Think about it, if you obey an e-mail that tells you to forward it to everyone in your address book, and they THEY do it, and this goes on long enough, you could bring the internet to its knees.  If you ever want to verify a virus warning, your anti-virus vendor may have a list of hoaxes on it website.  It's in the business of providing the fixes, so it will know which viruses are real.

5: Beware of filename extensions

The extension of a filename is the three characters that come after the dot.  Windows now defaults to hiding filename extensions, but it isn't a good idea.  Just being able to see a suspicious extension and deleting the file before opening it can save you from a virus infection.

To see filename extensions in all your directory listings, on the Windows XP desktop, click Start button | Control Panels | Folder Options | View Tab.  Clear the check box for Hide extensions of known file types.  Click Apply | OK.  System files will still be hidden, but you'll be able to see extensions for all the files you need to be concerned with.  Viruses often live on files with these extensions - .vbs, .shs, .pif, .Ink - and they are almost never legitimately used for attachments.

6: Disable the .shs extension 

One dangerous extension you can easily disable is .shs.  Windows won't recognize it and will alert you before attempting to open an .shs file.  The extension is usually just used for "scrap object" files created in Word and Excell when you highlight text and drag it to the desktop for pasting into other documents.  If this isn't something you ever do, or you have Word and Excell 2000 or later, which allow you to have 12 items on the Clipboard, click the Start button | Control Panel | Folder Options | File Types tab.  Under Registered file types, scroll down and highlight the SHS extension.  Click Delete | Yes | Apply | OK.

7: Dealing with double extensions

When you turn on your extensions in Windows, you'll be able to detect viruses that piggy-back themselves onto innocent looking files with a double extension, such as happybirthday.doc.exe.  NEVER trust a file with a double extension - it goes against Nature.

8: Beware of unknown .exe files

A virus is a program that must be executed to do its dirty work, so it may have an .exe extension.  Unfortunately, this is the same extension used by legitimate program files.  So, don't panic if you find files named Word.exe or Excel.exe on your system - they're your Microsoft software.  Just don't EVER open any file with an .exe extension if you don't know what the file's purpose is.

9:  Watch out for icons

Viruses in attachment files have been known to assume the shape of familiar looking icons of text or picture files, like the wolf in the hen house.  If you recieve an unexpected attachment, don't open it without first running it through your anti-virus software.

10:  Don't download from public newgroups

What better place for a hacker to lurk and stick his virus than in the middle of a crowd?  Sooner or later, someone's bound to download it and get the virus going.  Don't download files and programs from newsgroups or bulletin boards, or open attachments sent from strangers in chatrooms ("Let's exchange pictures!") without first scanning with your anti-virus software.

11:  Avoid bootleg software

This may seem like a no brainer, but sometimes that tiny price tag on a popular but expensive package can be too good to resist.  Resist it!  Likewise, be careful about accepting application software from others.  You don't know where it's been, and what may have started out as a perfectly clean package could have become infected during installation on someone else's infected computer.

12: Protect macros in MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint

A common type of virus uses macros.  Macros are sets of stored commands that users can save as shortcuts to perform long functions in just a few keystrokes.  A macro virus may perform such mischief as changing file types from text files or spreadsheets into templates, locking up keyboards, and deleting files.  Word, Excel, and PowerPoint come with macro virus protection.  To make sure yours is activated, open each application, then click Tools menu | Macro | Security.  On the Security Level tab, make sure Medium or High is selected.  Clcik OK.  If you are already infected with a macro virus, you may find that the steps of this procedure are unavailable becasue the virus has disabled them.  In that event, run a virus scan on your system to see if your anti-virus software can kill the virus.

13: Use passwords

If you share your computer, it's a good idea to assign everyone a password.  Passwords should be a combination of letters and numbers no less than eight characters long, and preferably nonsensical.  Never write passwords and stick them anywhere near the computer.  To assign passwords in Windows XP, click the Start button | Control Panel | User Accounts.  Follow the prompts to assign/change passwords.

14: Update application software

Microsoft constantly issues patches for the security holes in its operating system and applications software.  however, don't be lulled into complacency if you have Windows Update automatically checking things for you.  Update checks for patches to repair bugs in the operating system, not for security problems.

To get the latest security hotfixes (as Microsoft calls them), visit and look for hotfixes for all your Microsoft software, particularly Outlook and Outlook Express.

Microsoft also has a free downloadable package called Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) that scans your system for missing hotfixes.  It works with Windows 2000 and XP Home and Professional only.  It doesn't support Windows 95, 98, or ME.

To download the MBSA, go to the TechNet section of the Microsoft Website.  Be warned that the information is written in techie language, so you may find it daunting.

Last Words:

Now that you know some ways for avoiding and dealing with viruses, let's wrap things up with some solution you've probably heard before but have ignored.

- Back up your files regularly - If a virus crashes your sytem, you'll feel much better if you've got backup copies of all your important files.  Make the backup copies on a media that's separate from the computer, such as on diskettes, CDs, or zip disks.  Scan them for viruses before you put them away to make sure they aren't infected.  If they are, they'll do you no good if you ever have to use them because they will just transmit the virus right back onto your computer.

- Make a boot disk - Create an emergency boot diskette before you have a problem so you can start your computer after a serious security problem  To make a boot diskette with Windows XP, put a blank floppy disk in the drive.  Open My Computer, then right click the floppy drive.  Click Format.  Under Format options, click Create an MS-DOS startup disk.  Click Start.  Keep the disk in a safe place.  With luck, you'll never need to use it.

- Turn off you computer - DSL and cable connections that are "always on" may be convenient, but you should always turn off your computer when its not in use.  Hackers can't get to a machine that's powered off.

You are free to reprint this article in its entirety as long as the clickable URLs remain in the "Resource Box" section.

10 Tell Tale Signs of Spyware and Adware Infection

Though there are no warning signs to indicate that spyware or adware is being installed on your system, there are several tell tale signs to alert you of their presence, once they install. I have compiled here for your convinence 10 tell tale signs that can warn you of the presence of adware or spyware on your computer. Here they are.

1. Browser change: 
Frequent, unauthorized changes in your browser landing page or homepage should be a warning sign that something is going on with your computer. Your home page is the first page that you come to when you log on to your internet account.Very often, this page is the home page of your Internet Service provider (ISP), except if you changed it. If you find your home page changing frequently to pages that you do not know, there is a good chance that your system is infected by spyware or adware.

2. Busy system or modem light:
A lighted system or modem indicator is a sign of on going activity. If you are not online using your computer, the modem indicator should not come alive. A flickering modem light when no one is online is a good indication that something is going on with your computer.

3. Influx of unwanted emails:
Everyone gets a certain amount of junk mail everyday. However, a sudden spike in the number of unwanted email to your computer should be a cause for investigation. There might be sypware working behind closed doors in your computer.

4. System slow down:
Have you noticed how your speed demon suddenly slowed down to a crawl like an old witch? If it is taking more time to launch your applications and even longer to load web pages, if your Windows xp or 2000 Task manager on launch indicates almost all available resource in use, you might be dealing with a case of spyware activity.

5. Unwanted redirects:
Spyware and adware have the ability to redirect your search to web sites or pages of the choosing of the program owners. If youend up at sites and webpages that you did not search for, there is a good chance that you are being redirected by the unseen hands of spyware and adware owners.

6. Intrussive banners:
Some spyware open up your browser for an avalanche of banner displays. Very often, these banners are hard to close. A lot of times, they are replaced as quickly as you close them. Sometimes the banners are so plenty, they overwhelm your system resources.

7. Unwanted pop-ups:
Pop-ups when properly used, are a good resource to have on the web. They are used by responsible marketers to direct you to additional resources. However, pop-ups can be abused by aggressive advertisers through the use of adware or spyware. Disregarding professional marketing and advertising ethics aggressive advertisers employ adware and spyware scripts to spam your browser with unwanted and sometimes illicit offers. 

Another variation is the use of personalized pop-ups. When you begin to receive multiple pop ups with your name on them, that is an idication that someone is spying on you with spyware.

8. Unknow 900 numbers:
900 number are not very common. They usually carry a charge for access. Have you noticed a spike in your phone bill with charges to 900 numbers that you do not know? You might have been spied on a spyware program owner. It is believed that spyware and adware are responsible to a certain percentage of the identity theft crime that we see and hear about often today.

9. Foreign entries in your favorite folder:
If you all of a sudden begin to see foreign items in your favorite folder, be warned. There is a good chance that someone has caused those items to appear there. It is suggested that you check your favorite folder frequently and delete unfamiliar entries.

10. Additional browser toolbars:
The presence of a toolbar that you did not install on your system, may well be another tell tale sign of spyware presence. 

The average Internet user does not ordinarily fool around with toolbars. Most people are satisfied with the Internet Explorer, Yahoo and may be Google toolbars. If a toolbar looks unfamiliar to you, it probably is and should be investigated and possibly removed.

Finally, there are times when it may seem all is well. Do not rest of your oars. A good rule of thumb for living on the internet is to do your due dilligence. Be proactive. Deploy some security systems and scan your computer frequently as some spywares and adwares 
operate in stealth. 

Your system is your investment. Protect it.

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6 Tips To Secure Your Website

Most people on the internet are good, honest people. However, there are some people browsing the internet who derive fun from poking around websites and finding security holes. A few simple tips can help you secure your website in the basic ways. Now, obviously, the subject of data security is a complicated one and way beyond the scope of this column. However, I will address the very basics one should do which will alleviate many potential problems that might allow people to see things they shouldn't.

Password Protecting Directories

If you have a directory on your server which should remain private, do not depend on people to not guess the name of the directory. It is better to password protect the folder at the server level. Over 50% of websites out there are powered by Apache server, so let's look at how to password protect a directory on Apache.

Apache takes configuration commands via a file called .htaccess which sits in the directory. The commands in .htaccess have effect on that folder and any sub-folder, unless a particular sub-folder has its own .htaccess file within. To password protect a folder, Apache also uses a file called .htpasswd . This file contains the names and passwords of users granted access. The password is encrypted, so you must use the htpasswd program to create the passwords. To access it, go to the command line of your server and type htpasswd. If you receive a "command not found" error then you need to contact your system admin. Also, bear in mind that many web hosts provide web-based ways to secure a directory, so they may have things set up for you to do it that way rather than on your own. Barring this, let's continue.

Type "htpasswd -c .htpasswd myusername" where "myusername" is the username you want. You will then be asked for a password. Confirm it and the file will be created. You can double check this via FTP. Also, if the file is inside your web folder, you should move it so that it is not accessible to the public. Now, open or create your .htaccess file. Inside, include the following:

AuthUserFile /home/www/passwd/.htpasswd
AuthGroupFile /dev/null
AuthName "Secure Folder"
AuthType Basic

require valid-user

On the first line, adjust the directory path to wherever your .htpasswd file is. Once this is set up, you will get a popup dialog when visiting that folder on your website. You will be required to log in to view it.

Turn Off Directory Listings

By default, any directory on your website which does not have a recognized homepage file (index.htm, index.php, default.htm, etc.) is going to instead display a listing of all the files in that folder. You might not want people to see everything you have on there. The simplest way to protect against this is to simply create a blank file, name it index.htm and then upload it to that folder. Your second option is to, again, use the .htaccess file to disable directory listing. To do so, just include the line "Options -Indexes" in the file. Now, users will get a 403 error rather than a list of files.

Remove Install Files

If you install software and scripts to your website, many times they come with installation and/or upgrade scripts. Leaving these on your server opens up a huge security problem because if somebody else is familiar with that software, they can find and run your install/upgrade scripts and thus reset your entire database, config files, etc. A well written software package will warn you to remove these items before allowing you to use the software. However, make sure this has been done. Just delete the files from your server.

Keep Up with Security Updates

Those who run software packages on their website need to keep in touch with updates and security alerts relating to that software. Not doing so can leave you wide open to hackers. In fact, many times a glaring security hole is discovered and reported and there is a lag before the creator of the software can release a patch for it. Anybody so inclined can find your site running the software and exploit the vulnerability if you do not upgrade. I myself have been burned by this a few times, having whole forums get destroyed and having to restore from backup. It happens.

Reduce Your Error Reporting Level

Speaking mainly for PHP here because that's what I work in, errors and warnings generated by PHP are, by default, printed with full information to your browser. The problem is that these errors usually contain full directory paths to the scripts in question. It gives away too much information. To alleviate this, reduce the error reporting level of PHP. You can do this in two ways. One is to adjust your php.ini file. This is the main configuration for PHP on your server. Look for the error_reporting and display_errors directives. However, if you do not have access to this file (many on shared hosting do not), you can also reduce the error reporting level using the error_reporting() function of PHP. Include this in a global file of your scripts that way it will work across the board.

Secure Your Forms

Forms open up a wide hole to your server for hackers if you do not properly code them. Since these forms are usually submitted to some script on your server, sometimes with access to your database, a form which does not provide some protection can offer a hacker direct access to all kinds of things. Keep in mind...just because you have an address field and it says "Address" in front of it does not mean you can trust people to enter their address in that field. Imagine your form is not properly coded and the script it submits to is not either. What's to stop a hacker from entering an SQL query or scripting code into that address field? With that in mind, here are a few things to do and look for:

Use MaxLength. Input fields in form can use the maxlength attribute in the HTML to limit the length of input on forms. Use this to keep people from entering WAY too much data. This will stop most people. A hacker can bypass it, so you must protect against information overrun at the script level as well.

Hide Emails If using a form-to-mail script, do not include the email address into the form itself. It defeats the point and spam spiders can still find your email address.

Use Form Validation. I won't get into a lesson on programming here, but any script which a form submits to should validate the input received. Ensure that the fields received are the fields expected. Check that the incoming data is of reasonable and expected length and of the proper format (in the case of emails, phones, zips, etc.).

Avoid SQL Injection. A full lesson on SQL injection can be reserved for another article, however the basics is that form input is allowed to be inserted directly into an SQL query without validation and, thus, giving a hacker the ability to execute SQL queries via your web form. To avoid this, always check the data type of incoming data (numbers, strings, etc.), run adequate form validation per above, and write queries in such a way that a hacker cannot insert anything into the form which would make the query do something other than you intend.


Website security is a rather involved subject and it get a LOT more technical than this. However, I have given you a basic primer on some of the easier things you can do on your website to alleviate the majority of threats to your website.

5 Security Considerations When Coding

1. Input Checking

Always check user input to be sure that it is what you expected. Make sure it doesn’t contain characters or other data which may be treated in a special way by your program or any programs called by your program.This often involves checking for characters such as quotes, and checking for unusual input characters such as non-alphanumeric characters where a text string is expected. Often, these are a sign of an attack of some kind being attempted.

2.Range Checking

Always check the ranges when copying data, allocating memory or performing any operation which could potentially overflow. Some programming languages provide range-checked container access (such as the std::vector::at() in C++, but many programmers insist on using the unchecked array index [] notation. In addition, the use of functions such as strcpy() should be avoided in preference to strncpy(), which allows you to specify the maximum number of characters to copy. Similar versions of functions such as snprintf() as opposed to sprintf() and fgets() instead of gets() provide equivalent length-of-buffer specification. The use of such functions throughout your code should prevent buffer overflows. 

Even if your character string originates within the program, and you think you can get away with strcpy() because you know the length of the string, that doesn’t mean to say that you, or someone else, won’t change things in the future and allow the string to be specified in a configuration file, on the command-line, or from direct user input. Getting into the habit of range-checking everything should prevent a large number of security vulnerabilities in your software.

3.Principle Of Least Privileges

This is especially important if your program runs as root for any part of its runtime. Where possible, a program should drop any privileges it doesn’t need, and use the higher privileges for only those operations which require them. An example of this is the Postfix mailserver, which has a modular design allowing parts which require root privileges to be run distinctly from parts which do not. This form of privilege separation reduces the number of attack paths which lead to root privileges, and increases the security of the entire system because those few paths that remain can be analysed critically for security problems.

4.Don’t Race

A race condition is a situation where a program performs an operation in several steps, and an attacker has the chance to catch it between steps and alter the system state. An example would be a program which checks file permissions, then opens the file. Between the permission check  the stat() call  and the file open the fopen() call an attacker could change the file being opened by renaming another file to the original files name. In order to prevent this, fopen() the file first, and then use fstat(), which takes a file descriptor instead of a filename. Since a file descriptor always points to the file that was opened with fopen(), even if the filename is subsequently changed, the fstat() call will be guaranteed to be checking the permissions of the same file. Many other race conditions exist, and there are often ways to prevent them by carefully choosing the order of execution of certain functions.

5.Register Error Handlers

Many languages support the concept of a function which can be called when an error is detected, or the more flexible concept of exceptions. Make use of these to catch unexpected conditions and return to a safe point in the code, instead of blindly progressing in the hope that the user input won’t crash the program, or worse!

Bad Blogs Have Got To Go, Blogging Could Be Really Cool If Done Properly, Maybe Even With A Pinch Of Love.’

There’s a lot of blogs out there on the Web, most of which don’t entice one to go back regularly to read updates. What is missing from these on-line journals that would essentially make them ‘good’ blogs? Well, the answers in life usually come down to simplicities. So let’s look at the problem like we were children. Children don’t complicate life with miscellaneous information, and when they speak they tell you straight to the point exactly how they feel and think about a subject.

First of all, we should ask the questions,” Why do blogs exist? And what are they here for?” Well, in an ideal world ‘good’ blogs would help people connect, sharing knowledge and feelings about issues in life. As they are journals written by individuals we would hope that they’d be readable and open to comment by all other people, not just a select group of friends. The key is speaking in a way that is understandable by the masses, get rid of acronyms and local slang that only few will comprehend. Keep the sentences grammatically simple and generally short and concise.

Try to write in your blog as often as possible because if people enjoy reading your thoughts and ideas they’ll want to communicate or at least be filled in regularly on ‘your world’. Ask questions, comment on other blogs of similar content, start communities with others you’ve never met, based on your interests. Keep focused; if your blog is about thoughts on war and peace, keep your thoughts on the latest movie and how hungry you are for somewhere else. The idea is to incite intelligent communication so that in time our collective stockpile of knowledge and wisdom will gradually grow like a tree in fertile soil.

I think of most importance is the fact that you want this journal to be ‘good’ reading. Of course we all have ideas about what genres and styles we like, but writing from your heart and soul is imperative for the connection with others that you’re looking for. Share yourself; don’t hide behind walls of fear of ridicule and judgment. In real life relationships trust, respect, intimacy, and unity are all necessary for a bond to form. It’s the same in the ‘virtual’ world; people want to hear from real people-not just one-sided, highly opinionated arguments from egos that don’t want to hear the ‘other side of the coin’.

Now, in my last article I really tore apart most writers out there, and here I’m giving some pretty complex ideas on how to fix the problem of ‘bad’ writing. In my next article I’ll attempt to go back to the simple basics of how to write for beginners. I hope I haven’t come across as too judgmental, I just truly believe the ‘blog world’ could become a real asset to humanity, and at the moment it’s missing the mark.

Ideas about sentence structure, grammar, paragraphing, using a thesaurus (varying terms used so as not to sound repetitive), whether or not your blog is suitable for a personal or professional approach, are all important to creating a simple and enjoyable read for the blogging visitor. If you are a beginner, please check out my next article on the basics.

By Jesse S. Somer

5 Simple Steps To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

Are you the victim of identity theft? According to Joanna Crane of the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Program, 80% of the victims who call the FTC say they have no idea how it happened.

Furthermore, an FTC survey reported that 4.6% of those polled reported that they had been a victim of identity theft within the past year. Additionally, according to a recent General Accounting Office report, it is estimated that as many as 750,000 Americans are victims of identity theft every year.

5 Simple Steps To Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Is this an invisible enemy and are American's personal and financial information that easily accessible to identity thieves? What can the average American do to protect themselves from these personal attacks on their privacy? Although there are no guarantees, here are five simple steps to help prevent identity theft:

1) Shred private credit card statements, tax documents, bank statements, pre-approved credit card offers or any other documentation with private financial information.

2) If you are inundated with pre-approved credit card offers you can call toll free 1-888-567-8688 to opt out and request to have your name removed from the mailing list. In addition, you can call the national do not call registry at 1-888-382-1222 to stop unsolicited telemarketing calls where you could divulge personal information.

3) Monitor your credit report at least once a year. You are entitled to a free credit report and can get one by calling 1-877-322-8228. Look for suspicious activity. It is also wise to subscribe to a credit protection service which will inform you of changes in your credit report.

4) Check your mailbox daily and do not allow mail to sit overnight in your mailbox. Mail theft is an easy way for thieves to secure personal information. It is best to mail outgoing bills and checks at the post office or other secure locations. If you believe your mail has been stolen you must contact the nearest postal inspector. You can look in the white pages under Government Services or call 1-800-ASK-USPS.

5) Be defensive and more guarded with your information. Do not divulge your personal information freely. Never "validate" your personal or financial information when contacted through an email, even if it is a company you do business with; they have this information on file. It may look legitimate and realistic, but these attempts are getting more sophisticated and these types of scams are what is known as "phishing".

We have explored five simple steps that the average person can do to help themselves prevent identity theft. In this age of advanced communications and technology and with the thieves getting more deceptive than ever, it is imperative to continue to educate yourself. Be cautious and understand that this information can be abused and it is up to you to safeguard yourself and your famliy from this growing trend.