Almost everyone has access to the Internet nowadays – but not everyone actually stops to think how vulnerable users actually are. Considering the fact that the Internet is so packed with countless users, not many people think that they are actually worth hacking – nor do they believe that they are worth spying on. However, an average user is under much more close surveillance than he or she may believe.
Over the years, the Internet has turned from a source of information to a place where people are bullied or exposed to fraudulent acts. The only way of protecting yourself is to know exactly what you are getting yourself into – and knowing the Internet better than it knows you.
What the Internet Knows About You
It is commonly said that the Internet knows you better than you know yourself. When you browse the World Wide Web, you unwittingly leave a lot of data behind – just like when you step over soft ground and leave footprints.
How many clues may one get through those “footprints” and how deep can they get into your privacy? The thought of it is rather disturbing. This is why one should always be aware of the traces left behind starting the moment you enter a URL in the address bar.
The Internet works by using IP addresses – with IP standing for Internet Protocol, which is a data exchange standard. The moment you enter a website, your IP is remembered – and it will act as a connection between you and a particular domain.
This information is received by means of history and cookies. As you may have noticed, every browser records your previously accessed websites (unless you explicitly prevent it from doing it) – and these websites are used in order to show you content information. You can prevent the links from being stored by checking “Clear history when the browser closes,” but the data will still remain visible when you are browsing.
The same applies to cookies. This technology collects information in order to offer you the content that you need. It’s useful up to a certain point – but eventually, the Internet will know more about you than you know yourself.
So, does “private” actually mean private? Not really. We may think that no one really cares about our browsing – but in truth, everything is recorded.
Plus, there have been concerns about the fact that the government uses the internet to spy on us. Intelligent devices, smartphones, smart home devices – all of these are used so that we can be identified and kept under surveillance.
General Awareness Tips
When using the Internet, people often happen to stumble upon fake news. Fake information is distributed through various websites, while people who come across it and believe it spread the word. This is how misinformation gains ground.
Because of the above, people should be educated in digital media literacy. Making literacy a priority should help build awareness regarding false information. Moreover, people will learn that conducting some research before believing the first news provider they find online is the proper approach.
Cybersecurity, Online Transactions, and Safety
Types of Risks
In order to pay online, people have to provide personal information. When unscrupulous people are ready to do anything to obtain any important bit of data, Internet users can become cyber-attack victims.
Online transactions are at risk of phishing attacks and denial of service. For example, attackers could send emails with infected files, and people would be asked to provide personal data to get rid of the threat. Another common method is sending fake emails that appear legitimate and ask users for personal information.
Some individuals may be the victims of identity theft, which means that someone looks to gain a financial advantage at someone’s expense by using their personal information. As a consequence, the actual person may have their image tarnished, especially if they are found responsible for improper deeds. In other words, identity theft happens when someone uses a person’s private data without permission for the purpose of committing criminal acts.
A data breach takes place when there’s an unintentional release of private information to a dangerous environment. Therefore, this information will be copied, viewed, transmitted, used or stolen by an untrusted source.
Some Interesting Hacking Facts
- The term “hacker” was initially positive, and described someone who was into computer programming.
- “MyDoom” was the most expensive virus. It was sent by email and allowed hackers to control systems and conduct DDoS attacks.
- Social media is a prime target for hackers because of the large number of people who use these types of platforms.
- The average time to learn of a criminal or malicious attack is around 170 days.
Online Shopping and Safety
Considering the fact that there are so many untrustworthy resources on the Internet, security is extremely important while online shopping. Nobody should take security for granted. It’s essential to shop only on trusted websites. Thus, check out the business first, and create strong passwords for safety. Moreover, it’s important to stay away from email scams that make special offers, and not to provide a lot of private information.
The Problem of Online Harassment
When it comes to Internet safety, online harassment is also a grave issue. More and more people are experiencing cyberstalking and cyberbullying, where the stalker tries to communicate with a victim against their will. In the worst-case scenarios, the stalker directs threats to the victim’s loved ones or the victim. The issue is not to be ignored – so, if you are cyberbullied or believe that someone is suffering from a cyberbully’s actions, it’s best to contact the police.
According to surveys, four out of ten people in America have been harassed online or have been exposed to abusive content/language/etc. Similarly, 18% have been a target of more severe behavior such as sexual harassment or physical threats. This harassment is generally based on physical aspects, gender, political views, and race.
Furthermore, those who have not been subjected to online harassment have at least witnessed it. Around 86% of the people from the surveyed group claim that they have witnessed abusive online behavior at least once – some of them even in fairly extreme forms.
Children and Internet Safety
Nearly every American child nowadays has full access to the Internet – mainly because it provides them with a fair amount of information and entertainment. The problem, however, is that the Internet also exposes a child to a variety of dangers.
For instance, a child may come into contact with racist, demeaning, sexist, even pornographic and obscene materials. However, the most troubling is the fact that these kids may also come across predators who use the Internet to lure out their victims into the real world. This is fairly common among children and teens that use chatrooms.
Social media and gaming websites are also the perfect places for predators to contact children. Most of these predators will use fake accounts, fake profile pictures, and false common interests to lure out their victim.
This is why children should always keep themselves safe by remembering the following tips:
- Do not share your personal information online, such as your full name or address. A cyberstalker may use this information to harm you.
- Only talk with the people you know. If someone that you do not know tries to contact you, let your parents know.
- Do not send pictures to people that you do not know – with or without your clothes on.
- Be careful before spending money online, whether at a gaming website or a clothes shop. Some websites were only made to scam people out of their money.
- If you are worried about anything, always talk to an adult.
In the event that you – the child – are subjected to cyberbullying, the first thing you should know is that you should not blame yourself. Retaliating is not an answer, and if you feel like it is getting out of hand, then you can reach out for help. The advantage of the Internet is that you can save the evidence and show it to the police.
Parents and Internet Safety
The Internet is vast and packed with many strange things – things that you, as a parent, may be uncomfortable with your child seeing. While you may be able to know who your child is talking to when they are playing on your street, you may not be able to have this luxury once they go online. As a result, you may want to learn how to prevent any potential threats.
- Avoid adware and malware: Considering that ads and so-called “free apps” are packed with content that you may not want your child to see, you should explain to your child the full extent of these apps.
- Protect the child against online predators: Teach them that just like they’re not supposed to talk to strangers in real life, they should not talk to strangers online either.
- Check the social networks: Many kids nowadays use social networks as a way to communicate and “fit in” with their friends – which is why, as a parent, you should determine whether any particular website is suitable for your child or not.
As a parent, you can’t do much to restrict their movement online – at least not when it comes to Internet protocol. The only thing that you can do is teach your children how to behave on the Internet and protect themselves against predators.
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
To ensure that children remain safe on the Internet, the COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) has been adopted. Every information-collecting website that gathers information from children under 13 must abide by its laws.
The COPPA requires that every website should obtain parental consent for children under 13 – and should also permit the parents to review all the information submitted by the child. Children under 18 may not need such strict control – but some ethical issues are still in play, and parental consent may still be required.
Through this act, parents can also choose to delete certain personal information and records that they may deem dangerous to share. The law allows parents to address any ethical issues and protect their children’s privacy – from computer to mobile spying, and many more.
Every parent should always check whether a website is COPPA-compliant or not. Failure to mention this or ask for consent may mean that the website is unreliable.
Students and Internet Safety
Students use social media a lot and may not always be aware of the risks. As such, they should be careful of the information they choose to share online. After all, the Internet is a public record, and the information is spread easily.
They should be cautious of strangers, evaluate their account settings and always check the privacy policies, as they tend to change.
Online Financial Transactions
Students should always remember to shop only from trusted online shops and protect their personal information. They must not trust suspicious emails or instant messages, as they could be at risk of being hacked.
Moreover, they should always log out of bank, credit card and merchant sites once a transaction is completed.
Fraud is growing increasingly more common on the Internet. It appears in many forms, such as email spam, online scams, charity fraud, gambling fraud, Internet ticket fraud, and many others.
Students should be aware of every danger of the online world, thus preventing any money loss.
Students now have access to student loans through various Internet platforms. Although there are some reputable ones out there, new platforms are emerging all the time. Therefore, students need to be careful and compare them. Not all of them are trustworthy, and many could become victims of a student loan scam that could lead to a lot of debt. This is why online lenders should be chosen very carefully.
Seniors and Internet Safety
According to a study conducted in 2016, the highest number of online scam victims is recorded among the elderly. Sadly, most fall victim to these scams because they are naive, lonely and willing to listen to others. Seniors are more likely to trust certain offers because of the so-called benefits.
The Most Common Types of Online Risks and Fraud Seniors Fall Victims to
- Anti-aging Products – Scammers advertise anti-aging products that could be harmful or useless.
- Investments – Scammers pose as financial advisors to get access to funds.
- Insurance – Seniors are asked for their personal information by scammers posing as insurance agency representatives, then use it for fraudulent purposes.
How to Stay Safe
Seniors should be taught to use trusted Wi-Fi sources, research a website before trusting it, not give personal information away and keep their antivirus up to date. They should also use strong passwords to avoid hackers and use a password manager to keep track of all of them.
Where to Complain
Seniors who have fallen victims to online scammers should seek the authorities’ help, so they can track the wrong-doers, resolve the issue and prevent further consequences.
Traveling and Online Safety
Public Wi-Fi Tips and Tricks
- Be aware of Wi-Fi network names that are similar to your Hackers use this method to trick people into connecting and getting their info, so get some help from an employee to find out the correct network.
- Don’t enter any private information while using public Wi-Fi.
- Disable your Wi-Fi connection from automatically connecting to public networks.
- Close the apps you’re not using, as they automatically go online when there’s an Internet This way, hackers will have fewer opportunities to strike.
Because unsecured Wi-Fi networks are suspicious, there is a way to obtain access to secured Wi-Fi networks. Anil Polat created a map of free Internet and Wi-Fi passwords at worldwide airports.
Not only can it be used to get access to Wi-Fi, but passwords can also be rated by browsers. The app is available offline, so people can easily gain access passwords without connecting to another source.
Mobile Internet in Different Countries
When you’re in a different country, it’s essential to be careful with the connection you’re using, and it’s recommended not to log into financial sites using an untrusted Wi-Fi network.
Minimizing location sharing is also recommended, so criminals don’t know your every move. Moreover, it’s important to disable Bluetooth connectivity, because criminals could hack into your device.
Surveillance in Some Countries
There are certain countries that limit the citizens’ access to the Internet. Thus, travelers should know in advance that they can’t go online if they need help with something.
Moreover, in some countries, the government can track people’s activity online. Therefore, travelers should be aware of this before traveling to a certain place that may use surveillance.
How to Secure Yourself – Tips
There are various ways in which people can stay secure in the digital world. First, an antivirus must be installed and updated before your computer is actually infected.
Using unique passwords is also essential because if a hacker gains access to one account, they won’t be able to access your other accounts. Using passcodes could prevent someone else from logging into your account and gaining access to your data.
In addition, personal information such as the social security number or other sensitive details shouldn’t be disclosed online. Also, only shop on websites with “https” in the URL instead of “http”, as the former are far more secure.
How to Deal with the Problems and Get Help
When a cyber attack occurs, it’s essential to take measures against it. Scanning the computer for viruses could detect any dangerous software that could be infecting it.
Fully restoring the computer may also be necessary to escape the threat. Moreover, contacting an expert is recommended if there is still suspicious activity, as well as contacting the authorities in case of something serious such as identity theft.
The Internet can be a very beneficial place – but it can also be quite dangerous. In order to remain safe on the Internet, you must know how to conduct yourself online. Furthermore, as a parent, you should also teach some online rules to your child. Teach them that they shouldn’t click on every ad that they see – and that they should not talk to unknown people on the Internet.
[alert class=”info” title=”Your safety can be threatened on the Internet if you are not aware of the dangers posed by the world wide web. Many individuals overlook the importance of safety when they go online, thus resulting in their personal data being used in fraudulent ways.
Therefore, this complete guide was created to offer you all the information you need to secure the way you browse and use the digital world. We hope it was of practical use!