Don't Do These 4 Bad Habits Online or You May End Up in Hot Water

article by Cheyenne M author
While the internet is a treasure trove of information and media, it is also a place users can get into serious trouble if they are not careful. The dangers of viruses and malware are well publicized, but there are numerous online activities that people engage in everyday online that may result in legal liability.

Below are four such activities. This information is provided to educate and help prevent users from getting into legal trouble. But don’t worry – at the end is a simple way to avoid potential legal pitfalls as well as keep a computer safe while surfing online.

Watching Porn

Whenever a user watches pornography on a computer or mobile device, they open themselves up to various computer programs and possibly even legal problems. First, many porn sites will attempt to blast visitors with popups and some will even install malware. Visiting porn sites has been one of the top reasons for virus infections since the internet became mainstream.

Furthermore, users are opening themselves up to legal action in the off chance files or pictures accessed contain child porn. The way that many laws are set up, a person can even be prosecuted if they don’t know that the person in the video or photo is underage. It also doesn’t matter the video is download or not.

Just the act of watching it can leave a cached file on a computer that can be used for prosecution. Watching or possessing child porn, even if they look of legal age, can result in one being convicted and registered as a sex offender.

Downloading Movies, Music or Programs

The internet is famous for Warez, or illegal downloading of pirated material. The most popular forms of illegal downloads are music downloads, pirated movies and pirated or “cracked” computer programs. Downloading torrents have become increasingly popular over the last few years. In 2014, over one-million downloads of Season Four’s Game of Thrones premiere were downloaded in just under 12 hours.

These types of files violate copyright laws and a user may be prosecuted just for downloading the. Even if the files are not distributed. Penalties are often more severe on those that share these types of downloads.

Surfing Suspicious Websites

Ever heard a news report talking about how particular criminals or terrorists were visiting particular hate or terrorist sites? How do they know this? They know this because every time someone uses the internet, they are being tracked.

Every website visited, every Facebook post made, and every YouTube video watched is being tracked both on the user’s computer and at the server site. Think of Sting’s song, “Every Breath You Take” – it is just like that.

Therefore, when deciding to visit certain suspicious websites, users are putting themselves in potential legal hot water, even if they have not done anything wrong. The act of visiting such sites can be enough to raise suspicion and prompt authorities to take action.

Posting Inflammatory or Troll Posts

Many users like to go to websites and “troll” people. Often they use fake handles or email addresses to mask their identity. The reality is that users aren’t able to hide if authorities really want to find them.

First, visitors are being tracked by a unique IP address and also a computer MAC address that tells authorities where the person is located and in some cases exactly who that person is. In addition, all web traffic is being monitored by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), Google and on the computer itself.

One may think that going on a site and posting inflammatory posts is fun, but it can lead to a libel suit or worse if someone pushes the issue.

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A VPN Can Help User Cover Their Tracks

For users participating in any of the above activities, an investment in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is recommended. A VPN connection will provide users with a secure internet tunnel that can be used when conducting certain activities that can land one in hot water.

The best VPN service providers offer a myriad of server options around the world. Once connected to these servers, the only thing communicated to the sites connected is the IP address of that server.

All other information that is normally transmitted from a computer is blocked by the VPN. This allows a user to surf in “stealth mode” free from the government’s wandering eye.

Those that are interested in VPN should conduct research and check out some VPN reviews from the top providers. These reviews will provide information on which providers offer the best services at the best value.