The internet has opened up a completely new world to us. We can go anywhere and see almost anything with a few clicks of the keyboard. If we don’t pay attention to what we are doing online, adults and children alike can end up in uncharted waters. We can expose ourselves to a several different breeds of online predators. We often don’t recognize our own vulnerability until we find ourselves in a situation we don’t know how to get out of. The following internet safety tips can help protect you and your family from hackers, thieves and cyberbullies who may try to do you harm in some way.
Internet Safety Tips: Use Caution on Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites are all the rage. Almost everyone has an account on either Twitter or Facebook. Some have several accounts. Social networking sites are beneficial for several reasons.
- Families and friends can stay connected over long distances.
- Clubs and groups can share information between members and other chapters.
- Celebrities can share media events as quickly as they occur.
- Businesses can reach a massive number of viewers without paying a dime for advertising.
For all of their benefits, however, social media also has its dangers. First and foremost, is an individual’s ability to easily hide their true identity. By using someone else’s picture and a few pieces of random information, an unsuspecting individual can be lead to believe the person they are talking to is real. Secondly, social networking sites are well known for being the cause of spreading rumors that haven’t been verified. Another drawback is the ease with which a stalker can watch their victim. If the victim’s profile is public, anyone can watch who they talk to, share things with or places they frequent.
Internet Safety Tips: Consider Making Social Media Profiles Private
Consider making all social media profiles private. This means only the people you designate can see your public information and what you share about your personal life. It limits a stalker’s availability to add your friends and visit the same places you do. It basically makes it harder for them to find out any information that would allow them to place themselves in your life.
Children and teens who are allowed to have social networking accounts should have all of their settings set to private. This prevents pedophiles and other stalkers from gaining access to any of their information or photographs. Carefully monitor your child’s friends list. Make sure that each person on the list is someone they know personally.
Internet Safety Tips: Avoid Questionable Downloads
Emails are often sent through regular email accounts social networking accounts sometimes contain attachments that carry viruses. Never download any attachment without making sure it is safe. In some cases, receiving an email from a friend is not uncommon. If it comes with a message that doesn’t sound like something they would write or post, their account has probably been hacked. If there are any doubts at all, delete the email without opening or downloading the attachment.
Downloads from music and video sites may also be corrupted and carry the chance of infecting your computer with a virus, malware or other type of spam program. Before you download any type of file, make sure you are on a reputable site that guarantees safe files and secure transfers.
Internet Safety Tips: Create Effective Passwords
Create effective passwords by using combinations of upper and lower case letters and numbers. The rule of thumb is never use any information that others would most likely know. For example, never use parents’ names, your address or your birthday. These are easy to figure out if someone knows your basic information. Use random words and numbers that you will be able to remember without writing them down. Always use different passwords for each account. This provides individual protection for each type of account. If one gets breached, there is no fear of the others being victimized as well.
Change passwords frequently. Many internet professionals suggest changing passwords each week while others say once a month is sufficient. Changing passwords on a regular basis helps keep your information secure. It is more difficult for hackers to access accounts if the passwords are constantly being changed. They are less likely to attempt the same set of accounts more than once if the passwords are different each time.
Internet Safety Tips: Never Give Out Personal Information
No matter whether you are on a secure network or not, never give out personal information. Many internet scams revolve around spam emails or ads where a company asks for a credit card or bank account number to verify a person’s identity. Once the individuals behind the scam have your personal financial information they can literally destroy your financial security. Other gimmicks revolve around your social security number. If they can get an accurate social security number, your birthday and address, they can steal your identity and destroy your credit.
Teens must also be wary of who they give information too. An online social networking account is the perfect ruse for pedophiles who want to get in touch teens. By creating a face account, they can become anyone they choose, including another teen. Many online predators find unsuspecting teens in chat rooms or through other contacts. It is imperative that teens know not to give out personal information, even if they believe they know the person.
Internet Safety Tips: Be Wary of Public WiFi
Be wary of public WiFi networks. They are much less secure than home or work networks that require a passkey to access. Choosing to use a public network may be convenient, but there are devices hackers can use to steal information from computers that are sharing the same network. If you have a laptop or other mobile device, always make sure all security settings are placed on private.
If you have a wireless router in your home, make sure to protect it with a passcode. This prevents others in your area from picking if your network and using it without your permission. Not only does this make the network more secure, it also reduces the lag that is created if too many people are using the same signal.
Internet Safety Tips: Use Parental Controls
Almost all computers manufactured to have built in settings and parental controls that prevent certain types of sites from being accessed by anyone who does not have a specific passkey or code. By using parental controls parents can track what sites their children access on a regular basis and prevent them from visiting sites of a questionable nature.
Parental controls also prevent third party users from accessing questionable sites on your laptop or home’s personal computer. Without the passkey, any site that falls into a specific category cannot be accessed unless someone correctly enters the passkey. Some parental control programs also come with a keystroke logger, that records each key stroke made on the computer and who was signed in at the time.
Internet Safety Tips: Educate Your Children
Educate your children on the dangers of using the internet. Teaching them the right way to search for information as well as the do’s and don’ts of giving out personal information will help keep them safe in the long run. They also need to understand the shield of protection the internet provides people. They may not always be what or who they claim.
Children are being allowed to access the world wide web at a very early age. Giving them the skills to maneuver through it and the knowledge of how to maintain their safety is vitally important. Protecting them from online predators should be a parent’s highest priority.
Internet Safety Tips: Keep Home Computers in View
If you have a family computer in the home, make sure it is in a family oriented area. This allows parents to see what their child is doing without being too intrusive. While many children have tablets and laptops of their own, it is wise to encourage them to use their devices in the presence of their parents.
With the number of devices teens now have in their possession steadily increasing, this may become quite a challenge. It is, however, a good way to make sure teens are following the rules of the house when it comes surfing the web and interacting with others on social networking sites.
Internet Safety Tips: Report Cyberbullying No Matter What Form It Takes
Cyberbullying should be reported to the authorities no matter what form it takes. Cyberbullies can attack their victims through emails, videos and most commonly on social networking sites. While most bullies can be deterred by reporting them to social networking administrators, other cyberbullies must be handled through law enforcement.
Bullies who make death threats or meet the criteria for a stalker can actually be charged with a criminal offense. Any spam emails or public threats made on a social media site should be immediately shown to law enforcement officials so they can begin an investigation. In this case, taking these precautions can save someone’s life.
Internet security is not the sole responsibility of the internet provider. We all have a role to play. By learning what we can do to protect ourselves and our children from online predators, we can reduce the risk of becoming a victim. It is up to us to do everything possible to prevent hackers from accessing our personal information. We must also strive to protect our children and our homes from others who would intentionally try to inflict harm.