In this article, one would want to talk about the concept of internet safety and the first question would be: What is internet safety? Internet safety refers to precautions that should be observed when using the internet. These precautions are of utmost importance in ensuring the safety of the user’s personal or sensitive information, device, properties, life etc.
The human life has become very interesting with the introduction of the internet, social media, smart phones, iPad and other High Tech devices.
With this development, there is no doubt that the first thing we view in the morning and the last thing we view at night is our mobile phone or computer because of our need to communicate with friends, family members, neighbors, business partners etc.
However, as good as the internet is, we must be informed about the dangers associated with internet usage e.g. internet fraud, hacking, cyber bullying, social media addiction, online gaming addiction, pornography or cybersex addiction etc.
As far as internet abuse and cyber crimes are concerned, we are all vulnerable in one way or the other and the best way we can reduce our vulnerability is to be educated about internet safety irrespective of our age, sex, status, nationality, profession or academic qualification.
It is very important for us to know that we don’t have to become information technology experts before we can stay safe online. If we have the right information that we need, we can protect ourselves against many online risks associated with internet usage.
Adopting the following safety tips is a good way to educate ourselves about internet safety:
1. Use strong password. The stronger your password, the tougher it is to crack by cyber criminals. Make sure your password is long. Use at least 14 characters and mix letters, numbers and special characters.
2. Change your password from time to time because you may not know if a cyber criminal is monitoring your password.
3. Keep your browser and other programs updated. If you are not updating on a regular basis, your device may continue to be vulnerable to different cyber attacks.
4. When you receive an email that has an attachment or a link, don’t download the attachment or follow the link if you are not 100% sure it is legitimate. Cyber criminals send unsolicited emails with malicious attachment or link on a daily basis and many unsuspecting victims have ignorantly downloaded such malicious attachments and followed the link, after which their private and sensitive information were stolen e.g. username, password, credit card information, personal identification number, bank account details etc.
5. Avoid sharing your private and sensitive information online. This is because cyber criminals can easily get your personal information through any online platform and use it for fraudulent purposes.
6. Avoid using public Wi-fi. e.g. cyber cafe, hotel, restaurant, banks, colleges, airport etc. This is because most public Wi-fi are easy to hack by cyber criminals. It is also very easy for cyber criminals to monitor any internet user in public places through the CCTV attached to their devices.
7. Talk to your children about internet safety so that they don’t ignorantly disclose your personal and sensitive information to internet fraudsters. Most children that are on social media are the targets of cyber criminals and many children may ignorantly divulge their parents’ personal and sensitive information to cyber criminals.
8. When you receive an email warning you of some consequences if you don’t take action immediately, be suspicious of such email. e.g. when you are warned that your bank account will be closed or that that unauthorized charges have been deducted from your bank account, credit card, utility bills, online mobile recharge etc.
9. Don’t post your travel plans and other activities on social media because most cyber criminals get their victims’ information through the social media.
10. Conclusively, knowledge is your greatest weapon against cyber criminals. Make sure you always contact experts or counselors on cyber crime and other related matters so that they can educate you about the common tricks of cyber criminals. This is very important because as technology advances, new fraud schemes are being developed on a daily basis by cyber criminals.
Written by: Rotimi Onadipe (CEO, Onadipe Technologies)