I've been harping on this one for quite some time now. One of the very best things we can do as educators is help our students become savvy and safe users of the digital terrain. We can't fight it. We shouldn't fight it. It's here and it's life. Some of us may not love that fact, but it is an undeniable one. So how can we help? The best we can do is stay informed ourselves, and to pass that information on in a way that our charges will "get".
So... Lesson 1. At the risk of being on the ire of a hoard of rabid fanboys, I say this: The Apple Macintosh computer is vulnerable to viruses. All Macs should be protected. And it need not cost any money. Sophos, who you will read more about in this entry, offer a free anti-virus for OS X. There is no reason at all not to get it. You can find it here. There are several others, I'm not saying Sophos is the only one, but it is the one that I use. ClamAV is another popular one.
Let me be very clear here. ALL operating systems are vulnerable. Especially these days, when virus and mal-ware writers are focusing less on exploits to damage computers, and more on quick sell money making schemes. Most, not all, but most of the viruses you will see these days are web, or link based. It does not matter what you are running.
One of the biggest, most current forms of mal-ware is called clickjacking. While I don't often point out a wikipedia link as the be all and end all of web based information, this one is pretty good, and easy for the general end user to understand. The link also gives some advice on browser add-ons to help prevent clickjacking.
Information is still key, though, and considering that at least 90% of our charges (and ourselves) are on face book, a real simple thing to do is friend or like an information security provider. Sophos is who I use. Several times a day they will post something that helps keep me abreast of the current trends. They also have a great blog called NakedSecurity which is often a fascinating read.
We should continue to teach that one should never click a link from one's bank, or Facebook, etc contained in an email, instead going directly to the site to log in and see if the information requested in the email is also on the verified website. We should teach that secure passwords are essential, and that one should never give one's password out. We should teach people to READ a website, pop-up or email before acting on it. Most viruses and mal-ware are not written by native English speakers, and a little diligence can go a long way towards safety. We should teach our students and selves to know what our anti-virus software is, and to know to only act on suggestions from the software we own. No website will freely scan your computer and tell you you're infected.
Finally... Security updates. I had a conversation the other day with a Windows user who told me that he "never installed updates". He claimed that for years updates had done nothing but break things. I will counter that. I have installed every Windows update for the last several years. I've installed every Apple update. I've never had a problem. Folks... The bad update issue is over. It's more important to run the security updates, even if you do take a risk, than to remain vulnerable.
Because, in the end, your safety on the internet is completely up to you. Stay informed. Stay protected. Stay vigilant.