Help for Addiction to Pornography

It might sneak up on you – visiting chat sites, modeling websites, photography sites. That’s not porn. But then it creeps in, and you find yourself visiting sites you never even knew existed. And now you can’t stop.

How do you feel? Do you need help breaking the cycle?

XXXchurch (www.xxxchurch.com) can help. Founded in 2002 by former youth pastor Craig Gross, XXXchurch is a web-based ministry that offers on-line support and guidance for those struggling to break out of their porn addiction.

“If you sent a bottle of vodka to every home in America every week for a year, you would no doubt have a whole wave of alcoholics. The Internet has created a wave of pornography addicts with its pervasive porn delivery mechanism,” it states on the XXXchurch website.

With best friend Jake Larson, Gross started Fireproof Ministries in 1999. Now they have many avenues for helping others, including a free on-line accountability software called X3watch (www.x3watch.com) that helps people self-regulate their surfing behavior. In addition, there is a Pro version for a small monthly fee of $7 that includes a filter built into the system with instant text messaging option.  They also offer on-line 30-day recovery programs called X3Pure (www.X3pure.com) for men, women, couples and parents.

The XXXchurch site also offers a prayer wall for helping others and a sister site called Strip Church (www.stripchurch.com) to help individuals who are in the adult entertainment industry and need help.

Fireproof Ministries is holding its annual conference on starting a non-profit organization on May 22-24, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Find out more information at www.launch501c3.com.

10 Easy Ways to Minimize Spyware and Viruses

With the pervasiveness of viruses and un-seen spyware, many of us may be infected and not even know it. The problem is rampant, getting worse and can be very expensive for companies to fix.

According to Erik Eckel’s article on TechRepublic, annual worldwide malware repair expenses have increased from $3 billion to $13 billion within the last decade and Google reports one in every 10 websites has some sort of what they call “drive-by” malware on the sites.  As recently as 2009, even some big-name sites like Coldwell Banker.com, Variety.com and Tennis.com potentially exposed visitors to the Gumblar exploit, according to the Windows Secrets e-newsletter.

Here are 10 tips from Eckel to distribute to your employees for cost-savings and increased efficiency:

Make sure you have a quality anti-virus software

Eckel notes most systems arrive with some sort of free anti-virus program but they aren’t sufficient, he says. The “Pro” version (or paid version) updates more frequently, searches for a wider variety of threats, such as rootkits (which can allow access to your entire system), and can be customized for specific types of scans.

Make sure you install a real-time anti-spyware program

Free anti-virus programs do not typically protect against spyware, and vice versa. Free spyware programs don’t typically protect against Trojans, adware and other spyware infections and are not typically in real time. Also, paid versions often can repair computers that already have infections.

Update your applications frequently

Because of the incredible propagation of these threats, keeping licenses updated and installing updates is very important to keep your machine protected. Social media sites are especially efficient at spreading these issues so as their use has grown, so have the threats.

Perform a full daily scan every day

Again, because these viruses and spyware programs move so fast, keeping the systems updated and your hard drive scrubbed will help keep you safe.

Disable any programs that autorun

Many viruses run automatically when an external drive is added to the system such as an external hard drive or thumb drive.  If you are running Microsoft Windows, you can search on how to do this in their help section.

Disable Outlook’s preview image window

Without opening an infected message, you can still get a virus through a preview window. Open Tools/Trust Center or settings and click the option that disables pictures from automatically being downloaded.

Always scan any attachments or email links

It might seem like a pain to scan every message you get, but even emails from co-workers or friends can contain a freeloading threat. It takes an extra bit of time but could save you a lot of headache.

Be smart when you are on the internet

Make sure you have your browser plug-ins enabled to scan and protect any webpages. This can prevent phishing attacks  and infections. Leave plug-ins and pop-up blockers enabled even if it seems like pain. It really could save you a lot of trouble later. Try to avoid hotlinks if possible; instead type in the URL yourself to make sure you go where you intend to.

Use a hardware-based firewall

There is often a debate among IT professionals whether to use a software-based firewall or a hardware-based firewall. Eckel says the software-based firewall can often cause network issues, limit connectability to printers and other issues. Because of this, often the firewall is simply disabled, leaving your entire system at risk.

 Instead, install a hardware-based firewall to help protect against malicious network traffic, viruses, worms and other issues.

Protect against DNS or DoD attacks

This happens when an infection can change the numeric code a URL is translated into when you are on the internet. Many times, you have no idea it’s happening. An IT professional can help prevent this or you can use a program like OpenDNS to help prevent this.

For more useful information about this, please check out www.techrepublic.com.

9 Tips for Tweens to Stay Safe On-Line

There are many resources out there for parents and their kids surrounding internet safety.  An organization called NetSmartz (www.netsmartz.org) is sponsored by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

This website offers a ton of resources not just for parents and their kids but also for educators and law enforcement. The site offers many resources including presentations that cover:

  • Blogging
  • Cell Phones
  • Cyber-bullying
  • Gaming
  • Predators
  • Revealing Too Much
  • Social Networking

In one of the many resources they have available for download they offer these 9 simple tips for tweens:

  • Don’t Be Cruel – just because you don’t like the new kid doesn’t mean you should say mean things about him/her.
  • Ignore. Block. Tell – Ignore any mean messages you get. Block that individual and tell a trusted adult immediately.
  • Speak Up – If your friends are bullying and you don’t say anything, you are just as guilty.
  • Avoid TMI (Too Much Information) – that silly screen name may not seem funny to your grandma, they write, and sharing embarrassing or really personal things is not cool.
  • Don’t Be “That Kid” – you know, the one who posts a video about how to cheat on a test – Not cool.
  • Protect Your Space – don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Check them out and find out why they want to connect with you.
  • Recognize the Difference between Cute and Creepy – an older guy who wants to hang out with young people seems a little strange, right? Ask yourself why.
  • Don’t Just Sit There – if someone you don’t know asks to meet you in person, report them to your parents, the police or on-line at www.cybertipline.com.
  • Talk to Your Parents or Guardians; It’s Ok –  Parents freak out when you don’t tell them what you are up to. Keep them in the loop because they can help you and it keeps them from freaking out.

Check out these tips sheets and much more at www.netsmartz.org.

4 Types of Malware You Should Know About

Cyber attacks are in the news all the time and many tools are available to help you protect yourself.

Here are four kinds of malware to be aware of and how to protect yourself and your children from the Google Family Safety Center page.

Phishing Scams

Email is super efficient, cheap and has immense reach instantaneously.  It is also very easy to mimic the look of official companies such as a credit card or bank by grabbing their logo to make the email look authentic. People can be very easily fooled into thinking their bank or credit card company actually needs information from them. Consumers should never answer an unsolicited email. Also, many times you can tell it is not real by looking at the email address. If there is anything in the email address beyond the company name (ex: info@chase.com versus info@chase.cc.com) that is a red flag the email may not be real.

Viruses

There are three kinds of entities that can attack – viruses, worms and Trojan horses. Most of these are spread through email. The purpose ranges from simply paralyzing the user’s machine to allowing criminal access to files stored on the computer for identity theft purposes.

Adware/Spyware

This type of attack can range from simply downloading advertising you don’t want to tracking your on-line behavior, stealing passwords and compromising your accounts. Usually this happens because of visiting an unsafe website.

Botnets

This is an army of infected computers attacking a website, flooding the site with traffic and crashing the site. It can also steal identities during this attack and puts the users at risk.

Bottom line: be careful of any unknown links in emails and of websites that may be sketchy. Also, make sure you install security software on your machine (I use Avast, which is free and very stable) and keep it updated.

iKeepSafe Teaches Kids How to Stay Safe on the Internet

The Internet Keep Safe Coalition is a group of leaders who are trying to set the stage for kids to be safe on-line and learn good internet practices right out of the gate. It was founded by the former first lady of Utah, Jacalyn S. Leavitt.

With a focus on children, the iKeepSafe® website is dedicated to the education of parents and educators to teach children the best practices of internet conduct and safety through fun programs.

According to their press kit, “iKeepSafe educational resources teach children of all ages in a fun, age-appropriate way, the basic rules of Internet safety, ethics, and the healthy use of connected technologies.”

Elementary students learn from Faux Paw the Techno Cat® through on-line stories. Lessons include basic internet safety, cyber-bullying defenses, how to balance real life with virtual life, and the precautions kids need to know about downloading for the internet.

Learning is really reinforced by all the free downloadable content they also offer including PowerPoint® presentations, quizzes, games, coloring pages and activity sheets.  The curriculum is all based on research from Harvard University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Maryland. The Faux Paw stories are available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Cambodian, Vietnamese, among others.

There are also teen-specific programs on iKeepSafe as well as many resources for parents.  The Parent Resource  Center has the following materials available, almost all for free:

Video tutorials on current Internet safety topics:

  • 10 Actions Parents Must Take
  • Social Networking Sites
  • How to Handle Cyber-bullying
  • MySpace Safety Know-how

Family Fun Lessons: to help parents teach Internet safety at home

DARE Activities: coloring pages, activities, and instructions for parents

Online Safety Digest: recent news stories covering online safety issues

Learn more at www.ikeepsafe.org.