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Q If my computer has an "always-on" connection to the Internet, am I vulnerable to hackers or viruses?
A Anytime your computer is connected to the Internet it is vulnerable to hackers. It does not matter if your connection is always-on or dial-up. The main difference in vulnerability is the length of the exposure. Always-on connections provide a conduit to the Internet that is a two-way street, allowing hackers to exploit the connection and access your system. The longer your computer has uninterrupted access to the Internet, the longer it is vulnerable to a potential hacker.
Internet Basics

Internet Etiquette
Security - Protecting Your Computer
Glossary of Terms
E-Commerce & Online Shopping

Internet Etiquette
Every community has a set of social rules its members must follow. The community we call the Internet has its own set of rules for interacting with other Internet community members. These rules are referred to as Netiquette.

Some Internet users feel secure posting abusive comments, using objectionable or obscene language and content, or harassing other online users because of the detached nature of the Internet. Since Internet users are not face-to-face with other users, some individuals believe they are free to express themselves in traditionally unacceptable ways from behind a computer screen. However, it is important to remember proper protocol associated with internet communication.

Below are some things to keep in mind as you communicate with others on the Internet:

  • Use mixed or lower case text when typing messages. USING ALL CAPS (AS SUCH) IS GENERALLY CONSIDERED ANNOYING AND ABUSIVE. It's also difficult to read.

  • Use appropriate language and manners in public forums
    or chat rooms.
    You don't always know who is online with you. That Pinochle player showing you how little you know about the game may be someone's nine year-old child.

  • Think about the context of the messages you send. People can easily interpret the same message in different ways. The Internet brings together all of the diverse cultures of the world. Be sensitive to how others communicate.

  • Do not post, download, or share copyrighted material without permission from the owner. Federal law clearly prohibits the illegal use of copyrighted material on the web.

  • Do not engage in the activity of sending unwanted email messages for the purpose of soliciting business. This act is referred to as "spamming" and is one of the quickest ways to have your Internet connection suspended.

  • You can take action if you encounter an abusive individual on the Internet. Many web sites have Terms of Service or Acceptable Use Policies and customer care teams you can contact to report abusive behavior.


Security - Protecting Your Computer
The Internet consists of networked computers, circuits, and other devices. Since your computer is connected to the Internet, there is an inherent risk that your computer's security could be compromised. This risk exists regardless of what type of service or modem you use to connect to the Internet. While there is no way to guarantee that you won't have a security breach while online, there are several steps you can take to protect your computer.

Do not enable file and print sharing on your computer. This feature increases the risk of other Internet users gaining access to your computer's hard drive and any files that reside there.

Turn off your computer when you are not using it. Sure, it's more convenient to leave your computer on when you are finished using it. Shutting down your computer will decrease the likelihood of others gaining access to it.

Be careful when opening E-mail. Be very aware of e-mails from individuals, organizations, or companies with which you are not familiar. Computer viruses are commonly distributed through e-mail so when in doubt, delete the e-mail. Be especially careful when opening e-mail attachments even if they are from your friends. Your friends' computers may already be infected with a virus and they can pass it along to you before they realize their computer is infected.

Purchase anti-virus and/or firewall software. Possibly, the most effective means of protecting your computer, anti-virus software monitors your computer for programs containing viruses. Many anti-virus software manufacturers provide regular updates to keep the software current and protect you against new viruses as they appear. You can set up the software to receive automatic updates from the manufacturer. Firewalls allow you to control access to your computer. This is especially important if you are using your computer as a server for other computers. You may also want to install an intrusion detection system (IDS), which alerts you when someone is trying to gain access to your computer.

Guard your personal information. Never give information relating to your social security number, credit card, bank account numbers, usernames, passwords, or other personal information to anyone that you do not know and trust. Look for the Security Alert box and the secure site icon - - when you begin an online transaction that informs you that you are viewing pages over a secure connection. For more information concerning online shopping see E-Commerce and Online Shopping.

Learn how your operating system works and keep it updated. Recently launched operating systems such as Windows NT, 2000, XP, UNIX, and Linux include security features that can help you protect your computer. Operating system manufacturers typically issue software updates called "patches" that fix "bugs" or other problems found with operating system software after they launched to the public. Be sure to visit your operating system manufacturer's website periodically to update your system. Links to several of the more common manufacturer's sites are listed below.



Glossary of Terms
Anonymous FTP - Using the FTP function of the Internet anonymously by not logging in with an actual, secret login ID and password. Often permitted by large, host computers who are willing to share openly some of the files on their system with outside users who otherwise would not be able to log in.

Applet - A sub-program that can be downloaded from a Web site to be run by your Web browser using the Java programming language or MS ActiveX.

Bandwidth - The transmission capacity of the lines that carry the Internet's electronic traffic. Historically, it's imposed severe limitations on the ability of the Internet to deliver all that we are demanding it deliver.

bps - (Bits Per Second) The speed at which data is transmitted. Each bit represents approximately 10 characters of data.

Broadband - Broadband is a word describing the method used to transfer data over coaxial cable, such as the cable used in cable television and also in the new cable modem technology.

Byte - A unit equal to eight bits.

Cable Modem - An electronic adapter that permits a personal computer to receive Internet data from the high-speed information resources of a cable television system. Cable modems permit personal computers to receive Internet information at a rates of up to hundreds of times faster than typical, consumer market telephone modems. A cable modem attaches to a personal computer through a network interface card (NIC) installed inside the computer or to a USB port on your computer. The cable television system's cable brings the information into the cable modem and then the cable modem sends the information into the computer through the NIC.

CGI - Common Gateway Interface. A programming function used on the Web servers that gives Web pages the ability to interact with Web visitors.

Coaxial - This is the type of wire that transfers the cable modem and cable television signals.

Dial-In - An Internet account that can connect any stand-alone computer directly to the Internet. The account is used by having a software application dial-in to an Internet service provider (ISP). The software connects with the ISP and established TCP/IP link to the Internet that enables your software to access Internet information. The computer that accesses a dial-in connection needs either a modem to connect via a regular phone line or a terminal adapter (TA) to connect via an ISDN phone line.

Domain Name - A registered name that is given to an Internet IP address so that the address is easy to remember. For example, yahoo.com.

Download - The act of retrieving a file from the Internet or a server.

Downstream - This term refers to the path of data from the Internet to your computer, such as when you are surfing the web or downloading a file.

E-mail - (Electronic mail) Messages transmitted over the Internet from user to user. E-mail can contain text, but also can carry with it files of any type as attachments.

FAQ - (Frequently Asked Questions) Files that are maintained at Internet sites to answer frequently asked questions so that experienced users don't have to bear the annoying burden of having novices repeatedly ask the same question.

Favorites Folders - A special feature of the Internet Explorer Web browser that enables you to store the location of favorite Web pages in folders for quick future access. This is an important feature since many Web addresses are difficult to remember. When a Web site is added to your Favorites Folder, you can give the site any name you choose and then return to it later by reference to that name.

Firewall - A combination of hardware and software that protects a local area network (LAN) from Internet hackers. It separates the network into two or more parts and restricts outsiders to the area "outside" the firewall. Private or sensitive information is kept "inside" the firewall.

Flames - Insulting, enraged Internet messages.

FQDN - (Fully Qualified Domain Name) The "official" name assigned to a computer. Organizations register names, such as "ibm.com" or "utulsa.edu". They then assign unique names for FQDN's to their computers, such as "watson5.ibm.com" or "hurricane.cs.utulsa.edu".

FTP - (File Transfer Protocol) The basic Internet function that enables files to be transferred between computers. You can use it to download files from a remote, host computer, as well as to upload files from your computer to a remote, host computer. (See Anonymous FTP).

Gateway - A host computer that connects a network to other networks. For example, a gateway connects a company's local area network to the Internet.

GIF - (Graphics Interchange Format) A graphics file format that is commonly used on the Internet to provide graphic images and pictures in Web pages.

Hacker - Anyone who tries to gain unauthorized access into remote computer systems. Though many individuals work simply for the challenge of cracking a difficult security system, many hackers tap into remote systems for malicious purposes such as theft of secure information, destruction of information, to disable a computer system, or to infect it with a computer virus (see "virus" entry).

Home Page - The main page of a website or the page you set to appear on your screen when you logon to the Internet.

Host - A system that includes TCP/IP and runs applications that provide files or services or that shares the system's resources.

HTML - (Hypertext Markup Language) The basic language that is used in creating hypertext documents on the World Wide Web. It is used in basic, plain ASCII-text documents, but when those documents are interpreted (called rendering) by a Web browser, the document can display formatted text, color, a variety of fonts, graphic images, sound, video clips, run programs, perform special effects and handle hypertext jumps to other Internet locations anywhere in the world.

HTTP - (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) The protocol (rules) computers use to transfer hypertext documents.

Hypertext - Text in a document that contains a hidden link to other text. You can click a mouse on a hypertext word and it will take you to the text designated in the link. Hypertext is used in Windows help programs and CD encyclopedias to jump to related reference elsewhere within the same document. The wonderful thing about hypertext, however, is its ability to link - using http over the World Wide Web - to any Web document in the world, yet still require only a single mouse click to jump clear around the world.

IMHO - Acronym meaning "In my humble opinion".

IP - (Internet Protocol) The format of data packets (envelopes for your data) that are exchanged on the Internet. (SeeTCP/IP.)

IP Address - An Internet address. A number consisting of 4 parts separated by dots, sometimes called a "dotted quad." For example, Every Internet computer has an IP address. Most computers also are assigned one or more Domain Names that are easier to remember than the dotted quad.

IRC - (Internet Relay Chat) An Internet tool that lets users join a "chat" channel and exchange messages. IRC is soon going to permit the full-color, live-action video required for video-conferencing.

Java - A programming language that permits Internet sites on the World Wide Web to include computer applications that run on the computers of people who visit the sites. Java programs only work on computers that have Java-capable Web browsers, such as Internet Explorer that's included free with your service. Java programs can run games, create animation effects, drive database searches and permit user inquiries for information.

JavaScript - A simplified subset of Java that enables Web authors to include Java-like programming without needing to know how to program in the full Java language.

JPEG - (Joint Photographic Experts Group) The name of the committee that designee the photographic image-compression standard. JPEG is optimized for compressing full-color or gray-scale photographic-type, digital image. It doesn't work well on drawn images such as line drawings and it does not handle black-and-white images or video images.

kbps - (kilobits per second) A speed rating for computer modems that measures (in units of 1,024 bits) the maximum number of bits that device can transfer in one second under ideal conditions.

kBps - (kilobytes per second) Remember, one byte is eight bits.

Listserv - Internet application that automatically "serves" mailing lists by sending electronic newsletters to a stored database of Internet user address. Most lists let users subscribe automatically, not requiring anyone at the server location to personally handle the transaction. With "reflector" mailing lists, requests to join go to a human being's mailbox who must manually perform the subscribe or unsubscribe transaction.

Mailing List - An e-mail-based discussion group. Sending one e-mail message to the mailing list's server sends mail to all other members of the group. Users join a mailing list by subscribing. Subscribers to a mailing list receive messages from all other members. Users have to unsubscribe from a mailing list to stop receiving messages forwarded from the group's members.

MIME - (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) A set of Internet functions that extends normal e-mail capabilities and enables computer files to be attached to e-mail. Files sent by MIME arrive at their destination as exact copies of the original so that you can send fully-formatted work processing files, spreadsheets, graphic images and software applications to other users via simple e-mail, provided the recipients has a MIME-capable e-mail application (most of them today are).

Modem - An electronic device that lets computer communicate electronically. The name is derived from "modulator-demodulator" because its function in processing data.

Netiquette - Internet etiquette. Good netiquette will keep you out of trouble on the Internet.

Network Interface Card - (NIC) A card that is installed inside a personal computer that permits a personal computer to transfer data via a computer network. Commonly used in computers that are linked to office local area networks (LANs), a network interface card is required to connect to a cable modem. Some Macintosh computers and even some Windows computers have the functions of a network interface card built into the basic circuitry of the computer.

Newsgroup - An electronic, community bulletin board that enables Internet users all over the world to post and read messages that are public to other users of the group.

NIC - (Network Interface Card) A hardware device required to connect a computer to a network.

NNRP - (Network News Reading Protocol) An Internet protocol that handles the transfer of Usenet articles and information between a news server and client like your computer.

NNTP - (Network News Transfer Protocol) An Internet protocol that enables a single user to read e-mail from a mail server.

Ping - A diagnostic utility used to determine if a remote computer is active and where it can be contacted.

POP - (Post Office Protocol) An Internet protocol that enables a single user to read e-mail from a mail server.

PoP - (Point of Presence) A site that has an array of telecommunications equipment: modems, digital, leased lines and Internet routers. An Internet access provider may operate several regional PoPs to provide Internet connects within the local phone service areas. An alternative is for access providers to employ virtual Pops (virtual Points of Presence) in conjunction with third party provider.

Protocols - Computer rules that provide uniform specifications so that computer hardware and operating systems can communicate. It's similar to the way that mail, in counties around the world, is addressed in the same basic format so that postal workers know where to find the recipient's address, the sender's return address and the postage stamp. Regardless of the underlying language, the basic "protocols" remain the same.

Router - A network device that enables the network to reroute messages it receives that are intended for other networks. The network with the router receives the message and sends it on its way exactly as received.

Signature File - An ASCII text file, maintained within e-mail programs, that contains a few lines of text for your signature. The programs automatically attach the file to your messages so you don't have to repeatedly type a closing.

SMTP - (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) The simple, classic protocol used to handle the Internet's e-mail functions.

Spam - A slang term for unsolicited commercial bulk e-mail or news postings, or in other words: junk mail. Most spams involve advertising of some sort that is sent to a list of many people who have not previously agreed to receive such advertisements. In general, it's not considered good netiquette to send spam and is a violation of the Terms of Service agreements for responsible Internet providers.

TCP/IP - (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) The basic programming foundation that carries computer messages around the globe via the Internet.

Telnet - An Internet protocol that lets you connect your PC as a remote work station to a host computer anywhere in the world and use that computer as if you were logged in locally. You often have the ability to use all of the software capability on the host computer, even if it's a huge mainframe.

Unix - The computer operating system that was used to write most of the programs and protocols that built the Internet. UNIX is an open source product, which means that anyone can see how it is made and make their own changes, and/or improvements. There are many versions that are available for free. New computer users do not generally use UNIX, but there are many who will use nothing else. Microsoft Windows is more user-friendly, but UNIX is a much more secure operation system.

Upload - The act of sending a file to the Internet or a server.

Upstream - This term refers to the path of data from your computer to the Internet.

URL - (Uniform Resource Locator) It's your main access ticket to Internet resources. Its' the equivalent of having the phone number of a place you want to call. You will constantly use URLs with your Internet software to identify the protocol, host name and file name of resources you want.

Usenet - The collective name of the entire network of newsgroups available on the Internet.

Virus - A computer program that is spread through files from computer to computer typically passed from one person to another, that may or may not cause damage to the receiving party's computer. Using anti-virus software is an important part of protecting your computer.

World Wide Web - (WWW or the Web) An Internet client-server distributed information and retrieval system based upon the hypertext transfer protocol (http) that transfers hypertext documents across a varied array of computer systems. The Web was created by the CERN High-Energy Physics Laboratories in Geneva, Switzerland in 1991.


E-Commerce & Online Shopping
The Internet has changed the way many people make purchases and conduct personal business. You can book a vacation, trade a stock, do your banking, and purchase your pet supplies without ever leaving the seat in front of your computer. If you want to shop online, there are some things you need to know before you begin. It is important that you take the following steps to ensure your safety as an online consumer.
  1. Be familiar with your merchants
  2. Use a credit card to make online purchases
  3. Protect your private information
  4. Get the details about hidden costs and outrageous offers
  5. Keep records of online transactions
  6. Use a secure browser and secure online technology

The Federal Trade Commission provides an excellent resource to learn more about protecting yourself as an online consumer. You should also review the security policy of your credit card provider. Additional links to online shopping security tips are listed below.


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