NEW YORK - The end of the school year means more time online for vacationing students. It's also an opportunity for parents to raise their level of assurance that when their families explore the Internet, they do so safely and securely.
As family Internet usage increases, so does exposure to potential online threats, such as viruses and spyware. Consumers can protect themselves with security tools from Verizon - some without charge - as well as with simple preventative measures.
One such resource is the Family Center Website featuring links to online tools for parents, educators and kids. In addition to free Internet parental controls, the Verizon Family Center provides insight on such topical issues as cyber bullying, access to tools such as family-safety contact lists and a family-safety contract, links to public service sites such as WiredSafety.org and Webwisekids.org, and educational resources from the Verizon Foundation's Thinkfinity.org Web site.
(Note: A list of security tips for online activities is included in an accompanying consumer advisory.)
"The growing involvement of the Internet in our day-to-day lives dictates that we take steps to protect our families and our personal information when we are online," said Bill Heilig, vice president for Verizon corporate marketing. "The Web can be a powerful tool and a vast entertainment portal, which requires that we use security tools and some old-fashioned common sense."
Verizon Security Advisor, a free software tool, provides an instant diagnosis of a PC's security status and detects whether essential anti-virus, anti-spyware and personal firewall protections are in place. Verizon Security Advisor users may also benefit from free monthly security tips and tutorials as part of the award-winning software's ongoing risk assessment, which is available at www.verizon.net/securityadvisor.
Verizon's Parental Control Center, features simple downloading of parental-control software and tutorials on "Social Networking," "Safe Surfing for Kids" and other topics. Links are available to Web sites for groups like WiredSafety, the largest cybersafety organization, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's Cyber Tipline. The Web site, www.verizon.net/parentalcontrol, also contains information on content filters and usage controls for Verizon Wireless customers and parental controls for FiOS TV customers.
Verizon's Internet Security Suite (VISS) also offers consumers a comprehensive suite of security products for up to three personal computers for a monthly fee of $5.99, which can be added to a customer's monthly Verizon bill. New customers who sign up online get the first 30 days of service free. Consumers can save 15 percent by signing up for one year of VISS service at a price of $59.99.
The Verizon Internet Security Suite includes:
- Anti-virus - Helps protect against known malicious viruses, worms and Trojans by detecting them, removing them and cleaning the affected files, with automatic updates every three hours.
- Anti-spyware - Automatically detects and eliminates a broad range of the spyware and tracking software that inappropriately tracks personal information and is widely responsible for degrading PC performance and online access.
- Firewall - Acts as a shield to automatically block unauthorized intrusions, malicious hackers and other hostile attempts to access customers' computers.
- Fraud Protection - Helps protect users from online fraud by alerting them when they attempt to access a suspected "phishing" Web site.
- Parental controls - Allows consumers to monitor and manage Internet usage by determining the types of content and specific sites that may be accessed. Parents can also define appropriate Internet usage and schedules, and block access to non-permitted Internet Web sites.
Other features of VISS include PC Tune-up to improve a computer's performance, Pop-up Ad Blocker, Privacy Manager and Content Management. Earlier this year Verizon announced the addition of Wi-Fi Security and Advance Protection features to the popular online protection service. VISS was recently recognized by Info Security Products Guide as one of the best products for Internet security worldwide,
More information regarding Verizon's security suite is available at www.verizon.net/VISS.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 86 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations provide converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. Wireline also includes Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 237,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.
Tips on Enhancing Online Experiences
- Set parental controls to keep your children safe in the digital world. Services like the Verizon Internet Security Suite allow you to monitor and block inappropriate Web sites and offer the ability to set time limits for online surfing.
- Place your computer in your home's common area. This makes it easier to monitor sites your children are visiting and the amount of time they are spending on the computer each day.
- Talk openly with your kids about digital threats and safety. Having open conversations about online safety and behavioral expectations is crucial in protecting all members of the family from online predators and questionable content.
- Set up a firewall for your network at home. This will make it tough for hackers to gain access to valuable personal information.
- If you use a wireless router, make sure it is encrypted with the latest security protocols to prevent unauthorized use of your computer's home network. Online experts recommend WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) encryption.
- Protect your computer from viruses by ensuring anti-virus software is installed and up to date. Viruses are constantly evolving, so it is important to update your software and scan your computer regularly.
- Never give out personal information to unknown sources via the Internet. Never provide account numbers, passwords, social security number or other sensitive information to sources that are not reputable.
- Consider installing anti-spyware software on your computer in addition to your anti-virus software. Spyware is a program that allows a third party to monitor and gather user information that could potentially be used to harm you. Avoid clicking on pop-up windows and be wary of free downloadable software, as they are common sources of spyware.
- Avoid posting addresses, school names, telephone numbers and other personal information on public locations online. Remember that once information is posted online, anyone with an Internet connection can access it.
- Be wary of opening e-mails with attachments that come from unknown sources. They can contain viruses, spyware, worms or other elements that may be harmful to your computer.
- When shopping online, only do business with reputable companies. Regularly monitor for suspicious activity accounts used to purchase items online. Familiarize yourself with the steps that need to be taken if you suspect your identity has been stolen.
- When doing online commerce, customers should look for "http" at the beginning of a pay site to ensure the Web site is secure. For your protection, if the page requesting your credit card information does not contain "http" at the beginning of the site's address, avoid using the online site.