The Internet; a great invention that literally changed the game, forced us to change our lifestyle, and has become part of our daily consumption. This invention is a progressive one, and has created a space filled with a range of occupants from geniuses, influences, perverts, junkies and depressants. Note that not everyone is out here for a good time. Some, use this space as an opportunity to launch criminal offenses, or mess with our feelings and we need to aware of those. For the record: You are regarded as the right consumer of the Internet, since you’re reading this article, (instead of doing something else on it).
With that being said, here are some of the threats the Internet poses, and ways on you can stay safe.
First thing you need to protect, is your identity. Name, surname, email address and date of birth are only good for LinkedIn (where it makes sense to sell yourself) and Facebook (because you’re connected to your friends and family).
It’s understandable that social media accounts require profiles, but you should not put out sensitive information that could allow criminals to copy your profile and use it in the real world for serious crimes.
Bullying and being ridiculed
They say once you put it out there, be ready for (vicious) feedback. Internet trolls relish in mocking people online especially through personal photographs. This includes body shaming, which is a daily reality, and feeds into depression. There are many cases of people who post their pictures on platforms such as Twitter, and have had their pictures turned into memes, which then completely changes the meaning and the feelings those pictures carry.
Rather keep your media files private and set visibility only to your connected friends and followers. All social media platforms have this option under settings.
Repost, shares and tags
Might not sound dangerous, but it speaks highly about your consent and the things you align yourself with. If a potential employer, or anyone browsed on your profile and saw a post that contradicts with what they stand for, they can officially conclude that you’re in agreement with it, and take whatever action necessary, such as distancing themselves from you. Moreover, if you share news, rumours or jokes about someone on social media, they have all the right to come after you for ridiculing them, even if you weren’t the original composer of the post. Reason being, you get tied to the publishing chain, making you responsible for the posted content, as much as the original author.
Oh, you thought this was only for banks, companies and WiFi networks to watch out for?
This is a mother of all cybercrimes and it has gotten really advanced over the years. Your information (email addresses, nicknames, date of birth and subtle things like favourite colour) can all give clues/hints to hackers about the composition of your password. Be careful what information you put out, as this is used as pieces of the puzzle to create (almost accurate) assumptions about you. Also never download files from dodgy links and sites that you don’t know and trust. If you can’t resist over-sharing, rather add special characters in between your passwords.
Stalking and human trafficking
Do you have a favourite place that you like to snap or tag Instagram posts from? Well, you might just make yourself an easy target. Location and venue tagging lets everyone know where you are, who you’re with and what time you are at those places. Posts with tagged locations leave an easy and clear trail to track and find you.
If you must let the world know your whereabouts, rather be ambiguous with your tags (Pretoria, Gauteng), instead of street numbers and buildings.
We hope this article will make you more conscious and safe on the Internet. Share this with your friends (don’t worry, no one will distance themselves from you for endorsing this).