Security surveys and research studies repeatedly show that the human link is often the weakest component in any security system. Adept social engineers can easily extract user IDs and passwords over the phone. Phishers and spammers routinely entice unsuspecting individuals to supply credit cards, bank account numbers, social security numbers, and more. As the holiday shopping season moves into high gear, many users will be turning to their friends, relatives, and coworkers who work in IT for advice on protecting themselves while shopping online.

Most IT pros I know are glad to help, for coworkers it may even be part of the job. But after the 50th request, even the most patient IT pro may grow weary of answering the same question. Instead of spending 20 minutes explaining to every user how to be safe on the Internet, direct them to the Federal Government’s OnGuard Online Web site. The site provides “practical tips from the federal government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.”