Internet Safety Education: Our Greatest Weapon Against Internet Abuse and Cyber Crimes
By Rotimi Onadipe
What is internet safety?
Internet safety refers to precautions that should be observed when using the internet in order to ensure the safety of the user’s personal or sensitive information, device, properties, life etc.
Human life has become very interesting with the introduction of the internet, social media, smartphones, 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, neighbours, 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, cyberbullying, 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:
- Use strong password. The stronger your password, the tougher it is to crack by cybercriminals. Make sure your password is long. Use at least 14 characters and mix letters, numbers and special characters.
- Change your password from time to time because you may not know if a cybercriminal is monitoring your password.
- 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.
- 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. Cybercriminals send unsolicited emails with a 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.
- Avoid sharing your private and sensitive information online. This is because cybercriminals can easily get your personal information through any online platform and use it for fraudulent purposes.
- Avoid using public Wi-fi. e.g. cyber cafes, hotels, restaurants, banks, colleges, airports etc. This is because most public Wi-fi are easy to hack by cybercriminals. It is also very easy for cybercriminals to monitor any internet user in public places through the CCTV attached to their devices.
- 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 cybercriminals and many children may ignorantly divulge their parents’ personal and sensitive information to cybercriminals.
- 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 those unauthorized charges have been deducted from your bank account, credit card, utility bills, online mobile recharge etc.
- Don’t post your travel plans and other activities on social media because most cybercriminals get their victims’ information through social media.
- Conclusively, knowledge is your greatest weapon against cybercriminals. Make sure you always contact experts or counsellors on cybercrime and other related matters so that they can educate you about the common tricks of cybercriminals. This is very important because as technology advances, new fraud schemes are being developed on a daily basis by cybercriminals.
Rotimi Onadipe is the CEO of Onadipe Technologies and founder of Internet Safety Magazine