HOW TO BE SMART ONLINE?
How could we live without our smartphones, laptops, and other devices that allow us to go online? Well, that’s how most of us keep in touch with friends and family, take pictures, do our homework, do research, find out the latest news, and even shop.
But some people you meet online might try to take advantage of you, steal your personal information, or harass or threaten you (called cyberbullying).
STRATEGIES TO USE WHEN YOU GO ONLINE
- Check your mood! Are you feeling upset or angry? Then it’s not the time to be messaging or posting on a social media site. People don’t always make good decisions or think straight when they are stressed out or upset. If you have to, call someone or go for a run instead before you start venting online.
- When you are on a website, try to remain as anonymous as possible. That means keeping all private information private. Personal information that you should never allow the public to see includes:
- your full name
- any type of photograph (even of your pet!)
- your current location (some phones have automatic GPS apps built in that may need to be turned off)
- home or school address or the address of any of your family or friends
- phone numbers
- names of family members
- credit card numbers
- Keep your privacy settings on
Marketers love to know all about you, and so do hackers. Both can learn a lot from your browsing and social media usage. But you can take charge of your information. Both web browsers and mobile operating systems have settings available to protect your privacy online. Major websites like Facebook also have privacy-enhancing settings available. Make sure you have enabled these privacy safeguards, and keep them enabled.
- Practice safe browsing
You wouldn’t choose to walk through a dangerous neighbourhood, don’t visit dangerous “neighbourhoods” online as well. Cybercriminals use juicy content as bait. They know people are sometimes tempted by shady content and may let their guard down when searching for it. By resisting the urge, you don’t even give the hackers a chance.
- Be careful what you download
A top goal of cybercriminals is to trick you into downloading malware programs or apps that carry malware to try to steal your information. This malware can be disguised as an app: anything from a popular game to something that checks traffic or the weather. A word of advice – don’t download apps that look suspicious or come from a site you don’t trust.
- Choose strong passwords
Passwords are one of the biggest weak spots in the whole internet security structure, but there’s currently no way around them. And the problem with passwords is that people tend to choose easy ones to remember (such as “password” and “123456”), which are also easy for cyber thieves to guess. Select strong passwords that are harder for cybercriminals to crack. A strong password is one that is unique and complex and at least 15 characters long, mixing letters, numbers and special characters.
- Make online purchases from secure sites
Any time you make a purchase online, you need to provide credit card or bank account information – just what cybercriminals are most eager to get their hands on. Only supply this information to sites that provide secure and encrypted connections. You can identify secure sites by looking for an address that starts with “https:” (the S stands for secure) rather than simply “http:”. They may also be marked by a padlock icon next to the address bar.
- Be careful of what you post
Any comment or image you post online may stay online forever because removing the original does not remove any copies that other people made and the internet does not have a delete button. There is no way for you to “take back” a remark you wish you hadn’t made, or get rid of that embarrassing selfie you took at a party. Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your mum or a prospective employer to see.
- Be careful who you meet online
People you meet online are not always who they claim to be. Indeed, they may not even be real. Fake social media profiles are a popular way for hackers to cosy up to unwary web users and pick their cyber pockets. Be as cautious and sensible in your online social life as you are in your in-person social life. If you ever get involved in any messaging or online chats that make you feel uncomfortable or in danger for any reason, exit and tell a parent or other adult right away so they can report it.
- Keep your antivirus program up to date
Internet security software cannot protect against every threat, but it will detect and remove most malware but you should make sure it’s up to date. Be sure to stay current with your operating system’s updates and updates applications you use. They provide a vital layer of security.
Keep these basic Internet safety strategies in mind and you will avoid many of the nasty surprises that lurk online.
Resources are also available at Online Safety Commission https://onlinesafetycommission.com/safer-internet-day-2021/