If you get a virus on your computer, you\u2019re not going to start sneezing right there in your bedroom or office (thank goodness). But a ruined reputation online can follow you and your business, just as a successful online reputation can help you get more business. The Internet carries opportunity as well as the risk of digital mayhem. "This magical world is as fragile and vulnerable as your new car parked on a dark street in a bad part of town," says John Mariotti in "The End of Your Digital Life as You Know It." "Come back to it and it might be covered with graffiti or have parts missing.\u201d He adds that \u201chackers are the modern equivalent of malicious vandals and criminals.\u201d I agree--our websites are our digital homes, our profiles and conversations are digital extensions of our thoughts and ideas. I don\u2019t want my voice to be hacked. I want it to be protected. In "The Truth About Cyber Threats," John includes seven tips to help you stay safer online. Below are three of them: \u201cDo not open attachments that are suspicious or unfamiliar\u2014it\u2019s just not worth the risk.\u201d Especially if the offer sounds too good to be true, no matter who it\u2019s coming from, let it go. If you don\u2019t trust it, then trash it, delete it and then call the person it came from. Three of my friends and associates have been hacked in the last three months\u2014their email accounts and social networks. Making that phone call alerted them to the situation and protected me and my own networks. \u201cChange passwords regularly (and mix them up\u2014alpha characters, upper and lowercase, numbers, symbols).\u201d I used to be lazy with my passwords, but it\u2019s more work to undo a hacker's mess. So now I change them. And I\u2019ve quit using stupid stuff like the word \u201cpassword\u201d as a password (I know I'm not the only one who did this, and if you are still doing it, stop. You can come up with a better password that you can remember). \u201cTrash spam and empty the trash\u2014get it out of your computer.\u201d I used to leave it on my computer forever. Not any more. Thanks John. But what about family and friends who hack your privacy with ugly pictures or less than flattering personal moments captured and posted online without your consent? In "Facebook and Privacy: Will It Force Us to Be Better People?" Yvonne DiVita says, \u201cIt\u2019s not that hard to be a better person online. It\u2019s not that hard to stop and think, \u201cWould I want my sister/cousin/mom/uncle/brother/dad, whomever, to share this photo/info if it were about me?\u201d In other words, it\u2019s the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.\u201d Funny how being online doesn\u2019t excuse us from being thoughtful.