Digital Citizenship

General Internet Safety

Internet Harassment and Abuse

Harassment can be defined as any repeated or persistent word, conduct or action directed at a specific person that annoys, alarms, or causes emotional distress. Being harassed at any time whether in the “real” world or the “digital” world is stressful, frightening and wrong. It can take the form of abusive or offensive messages sent via email or SMS, or on a phone answering machine. Or it can occur as spreading rumors about a person via email or on a web site.

According to, law enforcement agencies estimate that electronic communications are a factor in 20 to 40 percent of all stalking cases.  Cyber-bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, intended to harm others.  Cyber-bullying can be as simple as continuing to send e-mail to someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender, but may also include threats, sexual remarks or involve hate speech.  The best way to avoid cyber-bullying is to be careful with your personal information and what you do online. If you are experiencing cyber-bullying, consider changing your email address, deleting your profile on social networking sites and starting again with a new digital identity that uses high privacy settings.

At Ithaca College, if you are being harassed (through email, Instant Messenger etc.) or suffer from some form of computer abuse, please contact the Computer Abuse Administrator at or call (607) 274-1000 or contact Public Safety at (607) 274-3333.

Internet Safety

Here are some internet safety tips:

  • Don't give out your personal information unless you are absolutely sure that it is safe.
  • Be careful with providing credit card information online.  Work with reputable sellers that have secure shopping facilities (these links start with https not http). These sellers use secure servers which receive and store your personal information in encrypted form, so that if anyone intercepts your transaction, they won't be able to decode the data and get your details.
  • Avoid using the internet for private communication (including shopping) on public computers
    • On a public computer, other people might be able to view what you've been browsing or even retrieve your personal details after you have finished.
    • The computer could have a keystroke logger, which is a program that records what you type.
  • Use secure logins and passwords.  Don't use anything obvious like your name or the names of your family members or the word “password”.  Don't write the login details down. Use a combination of words, letters and symbols in your passwords Come up with a password and then test it on Microsoft's password checker

Secure passwords

  • Don’t use common nicknames, birthdays, memorable dates and pet names
  • Create passwords that are unique and that include letters, numbers, symbols and random capitalizations.
  • Don’t share passwords
  • Don’t use the same password for everything


  • Delete suspicious emails
  • If you don’t recognize the sender, delete the email
  • Use a spam filter on your email if possible. Ithaca College has a spamfilter that is enabled by default but individuals can “tweak” the settings to fit particular needs. The spamfilter is available from webmail
  • Never respond to an email asking for your username and password
  • Ithaca College or Information Technology Services (ITS) will never ask for user information through email


Phishing is an electronic attempt (usually email) by criminals to acquire sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, by pretending to be a legitimate entity  like PayPal, eBay or an online bank.

Be careful:

  • Watch out for “phishy” emails asking the recipient  to “confirm” personal information.
  • Don’t click on links within emails that ask for your personal information. Criminals use these links to lure people to phony Web sites that impersonate real. Hover over the link and look at the destination link closely in the bottom bar of the window. To check whether the message is really from the company or agency, call it directly or go to its Web site (use a search engine to find it).
  • Beware of “pharming.” Pharming is a virus or malicious program secretly planted in your computer that hijacks your Web browser. When you type in the address of a legitimate Web site, you’re taken to a fake copy of the site without realizing it. Be aware of how your browser is behaving. Run antivirus software if you're suspicious of anything.
  • Never enter your personal information in a pop-up screen. Use browser pop-up blockers.
  • Only open email attachments if you’re expecting them and know what they contain.
  • If someone contacts you and says you’ve been a victim of fraud, verify the person’s identity before you provide any personal information.
  • Act immediately if you’ve been hooked by a phisher. If you provided account numbers, PINS, or passwords to a phisher, notify the companies with whom you have the accounts right away. For information about how to put a “fraud alert” on your files at the credit reporting bureaus and other advice for ID theft victims, contact the Federal Trade Commission’s ID Theft Clearinghouse, or 877-438-4338, TDD 202-326-2502.


Junk e-mail or spam is unsolicited bulk email. Spammers send unwanted e-mail messages, frequently with commercial content, in large quantities to an indiscriminate set of recipients. Some estimates indicate that 80 to 85% of all the email in the world is spam. Because e-mail is an extremely cheap mass medium, and professional spammers have automated their processes to a high extent, spammers can make money even if there is an extremely low response rate to the email. In general, spam is bad because it wastes people’s time and uses extreme amounts of bandwidth on computer networks. Spam can also be offensive in nature to the recipients.

Ithaca College has a spam filter on our email systems. The spamfilter works by scanning all incoming email, rating the subject line of the email against known spam and based on heuristics, filtering out suspected spam.

You can set you settings by going to and clicking on the link for the spam filter.

If you are getting repeatedly harassed by companies you can add the email address to a blacklist.