Some of the Internet's strengths are also its greatest weaknesses. The biggest Internet benefit touted by proponents is that it's available to anyone. Even if you don't have Internet access yourself, you can go to most public libraries and log on there. Of course, since anyone can take a trip into cyberspace, people who have less-than-pure intentions are out on the World Wide Web along with the rest of us.
Yet information and communication are two of the Internet's biggest advantages, and those advantages are distinctive. Information can be shared across computers, localities, time zones, and countries. Multi-national corporations can keep a project going 'round the clock, moving it between workstations electronically via the Internet. Communication can happen via e-mail, Instant Messaging, or file sharing. Even telephone calls can now travel via the Internet, in a process known as VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol.
Besides work, the Internet also enhances play. Music, pictures and video can all be shared with a worldwide audience via the Internet. Want to preview your favorite band's new song? You can probably hear a short piece of it for free. Games are available, some hosted on web sites or servers so you can try to save the universe while a "villain" playing the same game in Australia or Austria tries to destroy it. Dating and online gambling, including blackjack and poker, are two very popular diversions on the Internet.
Disadvantage of Internet
However, the Internet has a dark side. It can be anonymous, or almost so, if you know how to cover your cyber address. This anonymity tempts people to do things they normally wouldn't do in real life. Pornography sites have sprung up, some disguised as legitimate websites.
There are also threats to your computer and your personal information out in cyberspace. Computers run on programs, and those can be compromised by people with the technical knowledge and skill. They can figure out ways to infiltrate your computer. At the least, they can "spam" you with unwanted e-mail messages. At the worst, your computer may become infected with a "virus", a malignant program that takes over your computer. It may wipe out your hard drive and all the information on it, or send that information to the cyber-crook's computer. Your personal information may be stolen, and that could lead to identity theft.
Using the Internet requires good protection in the form of a strong anti-virus program, as well as becoming educated about what "spoof" e-mail, spamming, and phishing are. But with proper precautions, your Internet experience can be very enriching, and you'll soon discover that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.