Just like the western frontier, the Internet is a place where opportunity abounds, but it is not without danger. If you understand risk, manage uncertainly and protect yourself from diabolical people, the Internet is a magical place. When online, a good rule to follow is “when in doubt – don’t.”
Two main problems with the Internet are that 1) there are more scammers than can be counted and 2) it is hard, sometimes impossible, to determine authenticity.
In the Wild, Wild West if some cowboy came riding up to you, you’d better be a quicker shot or have a trusted friend covering your back. You could never take any chances because there were all kinds of hoodlums out there, alone or in gangs, that were trying to separate you from your property. And if you had established your homestead (website, email address), you’d have even more to worry about because they would always know where to find you.
On the Internet, the cowboys are the scammers and your trusted friend is your firewall, Spam filter and malware protection software to name a few. But even with these helpers covering your back, you could fall prey to a malicious attack. So you have to have a backup plan to protect all your critical data.
On the Internet, anyone can pretend to be anyone. Determining someone’s authenticity is just not that easy. In the Wild, Wild West anyone could steal the sheriff’s badge and the judge’s credentials. Unless you had another way to identify them, you could be fooled. This happens continuously on the Internet. A scam artist masquerading as a someone authentic gets you to download malware, adware, ransomware, gives you a virus, steals your identity, gets you to buy something or send money to claim your million dollar inheritance. Many of these scams are so obvious that it is hard to believe that people still fall for it, but then again it is the Wild, Wild West!