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Good and bad Internet news from the UK

By Alexander Baron     Mar 15, 2013 in Internet
The good news is that high speed broadband has well and truly arrived. The bad news is that crooks, con men and muggers have migrated wholesale on-line.
Back in the 1990s when the world was just going on-line and the Internet was a novelty, we were still on dial up, and speeds were a fraction of what they are today. In those days, computers were an expensive luxury for most people, many couldn't afford a PC at all. Software was incredibly expensive too. A good comms package like HyperACCESS5 could set you back £200, as could a decent modem. An advertisement on the back page of the January 1993 issue of PC Answers magazine offered a 486 DX2/50 with 4Mb RAM and 200 Mb hard disk. Yes, a 200Mb hard disk, and that was five or ten times the size of one three years earlier! A laser printer could set you back £800.
Today, people walk around with 16 & 32Gb memory sticks in their pockets, and as for connection speeds, compare this article about the UK's first broadband customer, only thirteen years ago, with what we have now. So that's the silver lining, and the cloud?
Recently, the British Government set up the National Security Cyber Programme, which according to this morning's City A.M. has already led to 19 arrests and the confiscation of £500,000 in assets.
Internet fraud is big business: for the most part, the on-line crooks want your money and your data. The best way not to fall victim is to get educated, that means good cyber security and common sense. The new generation of computers warn you against potentially dangerous websites, but a good anti-virus program like AVG, Norton or McAfee is essential.
Most people understand phishing and how to avoid it, and there are free on-line tools you can use to trace that e-mail you think looks genuine, but...
In the UK, the Financial Services Authority is concerning itself increasingly with on-line frauds and scams. Now you can become part of the solution. Not only does the FSA website have an anti-scam page, it has a consumer helpline where you can report scams.
It also has a list of unauthorised individuals and companies of whom you should beware. Currently there are nine of these beginning with the letter Z alone!
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