What’s the Internet?
If you’re reading this then you already know some basics about Internet, like the need for a computer with an Internet connection in order to access the World Wide Web (WWW).
In a nutshell, the Internet is a worldwide system of computers which are all connected to each other and which provide information to billions of other computers all over the world.
Although you’d think the Internet was a relatively recent invention, its origins date all the way back to the 1950s when computers first began to be developed.
The Internet is vast and continues to get bigger and bigger every day. It is a mine of information on anything you could possibly need to know from educational subjects, places to see and recipes to cook, the weather, information about foreign countries, maps and directions, job vacancies, health information, travel advice and so much more. The best way to start searching for information is through a search engine (Such as Google, Bing, Yahoo).
You can also use the Internet to learn about and listen to the latest music and watch videos on websites like YouTube and Vimeo.
The Internet is amazing because it keeps you connected with your family and friends, even if they are thousands of miles away from you. You can write to them on e-mail, chat to them, keep up to date with social networking sites and call them for free through the Internet.
Read on to learn about the Internet and the online services related to Malta.
Short for Electronic Government, eGovernment in Malta has in the past years flourished and reached the top spots in Europe, particularly in the European eGovernment Benchmark with respect to the provision and quality of services. The eGovernment department within the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) is responsible to bring all the Government of Malta online services together in one simple, seamless framework.
The eGovernment framework has several main components which are the fundamental building blocks that are transforming the way Government services are created and delivered. These components are the eForms, myBills, eProcurement and myAlerts.
eForms is a new platform which allows the creation of online forms. Rather than having to go to a particular department to fill in a form, or download a form which then has to printed, filled-in and sent by post or fax, eForms allows the whole process – from the creation of forms by the department to the filling-in and sending process by the citizen or business - to be done completely online in a secure environment. Great attention has been given to the look and feel element of the eForms, in order to generate an excellent overall user experience of the service.
myBills is the Maltese Government’s online billing solution. Over years the number of eGovernment websites accepting payment has increased considerably and myBills offers the possibility to citizens to pay and manage their bills online.
eProcurement enables the use of electronic communications and transaction processing by the public sector, in order to purchase supplies, services, or tender public works. eProcurement helps increase the accessibility, transparency and efficiency of all public procurement procedures and it also strengthens competition for the benefit of Government. Functionalities include eNotifications, eTendering, eAuction, eCatalogues, eOrdering, eInvoicing, and ePayments. The solution allows elimination of most of the related paperwork, hence reducing the cost and time required to process the virtual and physical procurement transaction.
myAlerts provides citizens with a one-stop shop to all notifications by email and SMS provided by eGovernment services, allowing citizens to be notified on various Governmental services instantly. These services will be updated continuously providing citizens with the latest information on Governmental notifications.
A full list of websites can be found here.
Security and Privacy on the Web
Your computer holds valuable information such as children's project work, photos and e-mail messages all of which need to be protected. The Internet is a major source of a number of threats to the information stored on a computer, smart phone or tablet. Common threats include viruses, spam mail and phishing. Here are a few recommendations that everyone using a computer to browse the internet can follow to protect the information from threats.
A prerequisite for anybody owning a PC running Microsoft Windows is to install anti-virus software that is kept updated with the latest virus definitions. Having outdated anti-virus software won’t allow you to defend yourself against the latest viruses and malware. In order to allow the software to recognize new threats, you must install updates as they are released. Be aware of software which advertises itself as anti-virus software but is in fact a virus or spyware itself.
Keep your operating system up-to-date with the latest updates provided by the developers of your operating system. Such updates make your computer more efficient and easier to use while others fix security holes. The sooner such updates are installed, the more likely your computer is protected from an attacker.
An account is required to login to your computer. A password has to be created for every account on your computer. Good passwords have to be selected and passwords are never to be written or shared with anyone.
Suspicious email from unknown senders has to be deleted without clicking on attachments and links. Avoid registering your email address on little known newsletters or replying to spam mail.
Make sure that you trust the vendors of the applications and websites you use. Submitting one’s credit card details to an unknown website might result to credit card details being stolen and consequently misused.
The less personal information one gives on Social Networking sites, the better. It is recommended that ‘Privacy Settings’ on Social networking sites are enabled to enhance security for account holders. For instance some Social networking sites allow you to select who can search your profile and/or who can send you friend requests, etc.
Last but not least remember to lock your computer when not in use. This will deter unauthorized misuse of your computer by prompting for your password the next time you want to work on your computer.
Gone are the days when you had to actually get out of bed to buy a new pair of shoes, computer parts or sports equipment. Online Shopping means you can buy virtually anything from the comfort of your own home.
There are millions of websites selling products from all over the world meaning you are not limited to items only found in Malta.
Because the seller doesn’t always have a physical shop to keep, the goods you buy online are often cheaper than in the shops. That said, if you are ordering from overseas, you will likely have to pay the necessary shipping costs.
Another advantage of Online Shopping is that it is very easy to find what you are looking for. Rather than having to physically look around a shop, you can simply run a search by typing in whatever you want to buy.
Nowadays even local supermarkets have a website and you can do your grocery shopping from your computer too. There are websites from which you can buy cars, second hand items, tools and even furniture.
Some of the best-known websites include Amazon for books and DVDs, eBay for all sorts of new and second-hand items, and Play for music and games.
In order to be able to buy online you need a credit, international debit or VISA card. It is important to be extremely careful that the website you are buying from is safe and that you are not giving out your personal details to the wrong person. There are special services which allow you to pay without revealing your financial information.
As the name implies, Internet Banking means you can do most of your banking online from your computer or your smartphone.
Banks offer many services so, for example, you can check how much money you have, transfer money between different accounts, transfer money to other people or organisations, and order cheque books. You can also manage your loans and monitor your investments through bank websites.
Of course, because it is highly important that your bank information is kept secret, banks have gone to great lengths to ensure that online banking is safe. You often need more than one password to access your information and some banks will give you an electronic key or token which you will need in addition to passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).
One of the advantages of online banking is that you do not end up with piles of papers with statements and bills and can easily look these up online.
Social Networking is a means of communicating for free with other people through websites and mobile phone applications.
Through such websites you can share and view photos, let others know what you are doing in the form of short notices, chat to your friends, play games, organise events and parties, and see what events are going on near where you live.
Some well-known Social Network sites include Facebook, on which you can see your friends’ photos and their status updates, Twitter, which allows you to post messages of no longer than 140 characters, Pinterest, which is a contact sharing website for pictures, videos and other objects, Instagram, a website and application for sharing your photos, LinkedIn, a business-related networking site, and MySpace, a Social Networking site with a focus on entertainment.
Social networking can be fun because you get to share jokes with your friends, funny photos you’ve taken and music you’re enjoying listening to.
It is important to be aware of who you are sharing your information with and to be careful not to give out personal information like your address, banking information and telephone numbers to people you do not know. Remember that people my not always been as honest as they seem online.