Four Steps to Reduce Computer Misuse & Crime

By Charmiane Wilson

Used properly and legally, computers are a tremendous asset to life.
i notebook computer image by Lisa Eastman from

Computers have continued to improve our lives in the areas of productivity, entertainment and communication. Unfortunately, computers have also increasingly been utilized for negative uses. Misuse and crime have increased as quickly, if not more so, than legitimate uses. As these negative uses continue to grow and evolve, it is important you remain educated on how to protect yourself.

Step 1

Protect your financial information. Practically every computer scam and crime perpetrated has to do with the intent to steal money. There are dozens of ways you can protect your finances online. The main method, though, remains to never submit this sensitive information to any person or website you do not know. Legitimate organizations will never request information such as credit card or account numbers through email. You should also never use public computers or public wireless networks to pay bills, check bank information or any other activity which leaves your finances vulnerable. Ultimately, a great rule of thumb is if you are suspicious, err on the side of caution and do not give out your information.

Step 2

Protect your online identity. In addition to your money being stolen, computer thieves are seeking to steal your identity. In doing this, they can take not only your money, but also your good name. This can be done in ways you might not expect. For example, using file-sharing networks to download music can leave all of the information on your computer vulnerable. If you do not use the proper settings, other users of the file-sharing site can tap into almost any folder on your computer--not just music files.

Step 3

Curb computer misuse by children and employees. Installing monitoring and blocking software on computers which you entrust to kids and those employed by you is a means of ensuring no content you don't want to be viewed or activities you don't want to be engaged in are conducted in your home or office.

Step 4

Avoid plagiarism. This misuse of the computer is tempting and can be unintentional. With the wide array of information available online, it can be very easy to intentionally or unintentionally steal the work and words of another individual as your own. Content on the Internet is not without owners and rightful authors. Be sure in conducting research you use your own words, and if you do quote a person or source, cite the resource and give credit where credit is due.