By Ron Dorner
No one would hand out copies of their bank statements in front of the local department store. But some computer owners are doing something very similar without even knowing it!
If you have financial information stored on your computer and you connect to the Internet, your information is available to the world. You must take steps to protect it. Your computer has hundreds of points (ports) that are available to individuals who constantly search the World Wide Web to gain access to personal information. If you do not follow good advice, your information is up for grabs.
Every computer should have a good antivirus, spyware, and firewall package that automatically updates itself. If you do not understand these terms, get someone to help you “protect” your computer system.
Viruses can invade your computer and make it inoperable. Spyware is any software that secretly gathers information about a user while he or she navigates the Internet and transmits the information to an individual or company that uses it for marketing or other purposes. A firewall controls what comes into and goes out of your computer.
Do your children use the computer online? This is another way personal information about your family may be collected. Monitor what your children share about the family when they are on the Internet. (For more information, see www.cenational.org/techwatch.)
The computer found in most homes today contain the same capacity as a room full of computers 40 years ago. They are wonderful and powerful, but also can be vulnerable. If good protection software is installed and kept up-to-date, it is easy to transact business. Much time and money can be saved.
Some people say they wouldn’t use their credit card online. If your computer has the software mentioned above and you buy something at a website with a credit card, the website uses 128-bit encryption to transmit your data. That means your information is sent with any one of 34 quadrillion (15 zeros) code combinations! Basically, unbreakable (and safe). Yet this same person will hand his or her card to a waiter in a restaurant who might take it to a back room and collect pertinent information using a black-market card reader that costs less than $100.
“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,” according to Proverbs 1:5. We live in a complex world and the goals of many are evil. My prayer for you is that you will be a wise steward and utilize the timesaving features of your computer while at the same time taking protective action.
Ron Dorner is director of Biblical Money Management. BMM has been helping believers handle their finances and estate planning since 1984. Online counseling is available at www.BiblicalMoneyManagement.com.