You're reading a web page, available to everyone - and criminals might be reading this page at the same time as you.
When you use the internet, the moment you follow a link, reply to an email, post something to Facebook or Twitter, respond to a request for something, is the moment you're at risk. Develop the skills used by the many people who use the internet without exposing themselves to danger.
Others can help, but this is something you have to do for yourself. Develop your instincts. Recognise when something's risky or trying to trick you. You'll be a lot safer and so will people you care about.
If miscreants know that you have something that's worth money to them, they'll try to steal it. If you're a student, they'll know that you may have a student account that receives your student loan - and will try to trick you into parting with your password if they can. They're organised, this is large scale crime in action, the perpetrators take this seriously.
'Pfishers' send a shower of spam email asking the potential victim to do something - like scattering bait for fish. Most fish will see the trap, some fish will take the bait. Do you or your friends want to be among the 'phished'. Probably not ...
When you receive an email that:
... your alarm bells should ring.
That last example sounds wrong - if someone you know asks for your help, you'll want to help them. But think: you'll help them far more if you first check to see that it's actually them that's asked.
Be aware of the method that criminals may attempt to steal your student loan - it works like this: the fraudsters steal your username and password for your dealings with the student loan company ... and you can guess the rest.
Here's more from DirectGov on Student Loan Fraud.
Choose good passwords. There's plenty of advice on this, and even a Mark's Help page on choosing passwords. Recognise when you can use a 'Weak' password - some activities don't require strong passwords - save the tough ones for your email account, online banking etc. Write the tough ones down if you need to - and keep the note in a place that will not be associated with you. That's far better than using an easily-guessed password.
For your own devices, always set a login password, a 'Wake from sleep' password. If you need to surrender your device to someone else for repair or to change settings, be aware of the risks - it's likely that anything stored there - passwords, photos, documents - will be available to them, so you need to ensure that they are trustworthy.
Of course, and you're not only protecting yourself, you're protecting your friends and relatives too.
If you're looking after data for others, yes. Apple's OS X's 'Filevault' now works rather well. On Windows machines, the encryption offering is rather more fragmented unless you're using the 'Enterprise' version of Windows 7 - but 'Bitlocker' encryption of USB sticks is an option ..
Facebook's used by people, pupils, students, employers ... and criminals ... the world over. There's good uses for social networking and some stunningly bad uses too. Develop your instincts. The 'Know the net' resource has lots of info and starting points.
Bullies thrive when they are able to isolate their victim. People who work in organisations have a group moral responsibility to ensure they do not encourage a culture in which bullying is tolerated. If you find yourself on the receiving end of bullying, the one thing that always works is help from others.
Bullies depend on:
It's very easy to set up a blog or wiki - or use social networking sites - to maliciously attack someone. If you find yourself on the receiving end of this, you may find it difficult to have the offending site removed, often because the companies that provide the means to build the sites do not have provision to deal with sites - even if these break the providers' terms of service. Social networking sites have recently improved their response to this problem, others remain less ethical.
As a general rule, if the site warrants it, get help, especially if illegality is involved, but regain control, proceed on your terms, avoid playing into the hands of the perpetrator:
if you're unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of this, do your best to give malicious sites a 'Jolly good ignoring' - most other people who use their commonsense will do the same. There are people and organisations who will not ignore malicious information on web sites, and especially if criminality is involved they will act on your behalf.
All before you, in this world, is smoke and shadows.All before you, in this world, is smoke and shadows.
Words found on a door lintel in the garden of a house in the Cretan village of Argiroupolis.
The lintel is a fragment from the city state Lappa, which occupied the same site.
Fifteen hundred years later, when you use the web, from time to time you might well feel that the author was on to something. And if you work with particle physics, you'll know he was ...