The Internet can deliver a webpage from anywhere in the world to your computer within seconds, but that technology also means a computer virus can spread just as quickly, Hardy Telecommunications Youth Advisory Board was told during a meeting February 10.
Meeting at Hardy’s Moorefield office, the students heard from Internet Administrator Philip Miller and Retail Sales Manager Becky Kimble. Philip pulled up a webpage from BBC, the news company based in Britain. He then did a trace on the website’s signal, showing the youth board how the signal traveled from Hardy’s office to near Washington, D.C., across the ocean to England and back again, each jump measured in milliseconds.
Becky, who oversees web hosting services for Hardy, gave a demonstration of how HardyNet obtains domain names for website addresses. Although most people are familiar with finding a website by a name, such as www.hardynet.com, those names correspond to a series of numbers, which is how the Internet actually identifies websites.
With so much information online and the ability to find information so quickly, students need to be especially careful about protecting their privacy. Hardy Marketing/Human Resource Director Derek Barr said everyone should have some sort of virus protection installed on their computer. When a virus or other type of malware infects a computer, not only may the person’s computer be damaged, but that person’s private information may be accessible to outside parties, he said.
“The speed and vastness of the Internet is just amazing, but that also means criminals or other predators will try to take advantage of it for the wrong purposes,” Derek said. “Being an Internet service provider, we at HardyNet just want to make sure that people, especially our youth, take the proper precautions.”
There are several free versions of virus protection available, such as Microsoft Security Essentials. Philip recommended using the program Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (available at www.malwarebytes.org) to conduct regular scans of your computer.
Derek said leaving your computer unprotected is too dangerous on today’s Internet. Citing an article in the technology magazine Wired, he said malicious webpages jumped 111 percent from 2009 to 2010, and almost 80 percent of those were legitimate websites that had been hacked to distribute malware. The article quoted a representative of security firm Websense as saying that it was slightly more dangerous now to search online for news than for adult content.
Derek said the article also indicated that 40 percent of Facebook updates contain links, and about 10 percent of those links are spam or malicious attacks. Facebook has more than 500 million users.
Hardy formed its Youth Advisory Board in 2007 to educate the students about Hardy Telecommunications and the telecommunications industry, and for the students to share their ideas and thoughts about technology important to them. The group is comprised of students from East Hardy and Moorefield high schools.
This year’s Youth Advisory Board members are Ashley Dove, East Hardy senior; Mary Mumford, Moorefield senior; Tressa Parker, East Hardy junior; Tori Burdette, Moorefield junior; Tyler Bradfield, East Hardy sophomore; Garrett Keller, Moorefield sophomore; Stephen Hott, East Hardy freshman; and JoBeth Delawder, Moorefield freshman.