The increasing popularity of the internet makes it important for everyone to understand cyber safety .The internet is an important part of life and learning, but we should be aware of problems we might have online and take steps to be safe.In simple terms, online safety refers to the act of staying safe online. It is also commonly known as internet safety, e-safety and cyber safety. It encompasses all technological devices which have access to the internet from PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets. Being safe online means individuals are protecting themselves and others from online harms and risks which may jeopardize their personal information, lead to unsafe communications or even effect their mental health and wellbeing. The internet is full of useful, interesting and exciting stuff. It is crucial for doing homework, keeping in touch with friends and finding out about almost anything. It is also a place where there is risk. This risk can come from the way you behave, for example if you bully someone else online, have fights, or do illegal things. The risk can also come from other people online who are trying to trick, hurt or bully you. Most young people are very good at spotting risks online and knowing when they can solve a problem themselves, and when they need to involve an adult or the police.
Types of online risks: There are many different kinds of online risk . They range from common things like getting spam emails, to serious scams where criminals work really hard to trick other people into giving them money, or personal information.
Some children and teenagers are more at risk than others. This might be because:
• They have large contact groups, or are in contact with a lot of people they don’t know well
• They share a lot of information or seldom use privacy settings
• They are posting content which shows them acting in illegal or dangerous ways
A safe approach is to let an adult you trust (like your parent, teacher, or guardian) know right away, even if you are worried that you have done something wrong. People who do bad things to other people online often do so again, to lots of different adults, children and young people. By reporting you are helping to protect everyone. When you use the internet, you may be connected to thousands of other computers that you exchange information and data with, including personal details. It is important to make sure your device; your information and your privacy are as secure as possible. Some simple precautions will keep you safe online. Here are the some Internet safety rules to follow to help you avoid getting into trouble online :
1. Keep Personal Information Professional and Limited
Potential employers or customers don’t need to know your personal relationship status or your home address. They do need to know about your expertise and professional background, and how to get in touch with you. You wouldn’t hand purely personal information out to strangers individually—don’t hand it out to millions of people online.
The internet is full of useful, interesting and exciting stuff. It is crucial for doing homework, keeping in touch with friends and finding out about almost anything.
2. 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. Major Websites like Facebook also have privacy-enhancing settings available. These settings are sometimes (deliberately) hard to find because companies want your personal information for its marketing value. Make sure you have enabled these privacy safeguards, and keep them enabled.
3. Practice Safe Browsing
You wouldn’t choose to walk through a dangerous neighborhood—don’t visit dangerous neighborhoods online. Cybercriminals use lurid content as bait. They know people are sometimes tempted by dubious content and may let their guard down when searching for it. The Internet’s demimonde is filled with hard-to-see pitfalls, where one careless click could expose personal data or infect your device with malware. By resisting the urge, you don’t even give the hackers a chance.
4. Make Sure Your Internet Connection is Secure. Use a Secure VPN Connection
When you go online in a public place, for example by using a public Wi-Fi connection, you have no direct control over its security. Corporate cyber security experts worry about “endpoints”—the places where a private network connects to the outside world. Your vulnerable endpoint is your local Internet connection. Make sure your device is secure, and when in doubt, wait for a better time (i.e., until you’re able to connect to a secure Wi-Fi network) before providing information such as your bank account number.
To further improve your Internet browsing safety, use secure VPN connection (virtual private network). VPN enables you to have a secure connection between your device and an Internet server that no one can monitor or access the data that you’re exchanging.
5. Be Careful What You Download
A top goal of cybercriminals is to trick you into downloading malware—programs or apps that carry malware or try to steal information. This malware can be disguised as an app: anything from a popular game to something that checks traffic or the weather.
6. 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 demystify. Password manager software can help you to manage multiple passwords so that you don’t forget them. A strong password is one that is unique and complex—at least 15 characters long, mixing letters, numbers and special characters.
7. 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, encrypted connections.
8. Be Careful What You Post
The Internet does not have a delete key, as that young candidate in New Hampshire found out. Any comment or image you post online may stay online forever because removing the original (say, from Twitter) does not remove any copies that other people made. 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.
9. 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. As InfoWorld reports, fake social media profiles are a popular way for hackers to cozy 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.
10. Keep Your Antivirus Program Up To Date
Internet security software cannot protect against every threat, but it will detect and remove most malware—though you should make sure it’s to date. Be sure to stay current with your operating system’s updates and updates to applications you use. They provide a vital layer of security.
(The author is a teacher at Government High School Brakpora Anantnag. Views are his own)