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Online awareness

Publication Date: Jul 11, 2019

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Written by Raymond Azzopardi

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The Internet is an excellent tool for finding information you need, discovering new things, having fun and communicating with friends. But like in the real world it can be a dangerous place! As we are going to see in this article, there are ways as to how one can surf safely without problems.

All inputted data is saved on magnetic media and other forms of storage devices. Think very carefully about what you write online as it can be retrieved and read by people after a decade or more. This applies to Emails, Chat rooms, Social Media and electronic messages. In other words, “Think before you click” and be polite and treat others the way you would like to be treated.

working on laptop.jpgChat with people you know. Do not chat with strangers, and never arrange a meeting with someone you do not know. Parents should be vigilant on their children and be kept updated on any new friends they make. Perpetrators at times lure children and adults to add them as friends in social networks with malicious intent. Remember that Social Media is a common place where people select “friends” without them even knowing who they really are. This is the hunting ground for perpetrators who try to scam you in any way they could.

Computer viruses can be transmitted online as easily as in the real world. Prevent infection by setting up a firewall and anti-virus software. You wouldn't choose to walk through a dangerous neighbourhood—don't visit dangerous neighbourhoods 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 is filled with hard-to-see pitfalls, where one careless click could expose personal data or infect your device with malware. These may damage your data and applications. By resisting the urge, you don't even give the hackers a chance. Update any vulnerabilities which may pop up from time to time. Make sure that your anti-virus is also updated. If you happen to encounter slow browsing, suspicious behaviour of the browser or any other anomalies, report your problem to someone who can assist you as there may be the likelihood of being infected.

Do not share passwords. Never share your name or password with anybody. Make sure that the password is of 8 characters or more and complex with upper/lower case characters, symbols and numbers. Create passwords for different accounts and never write them down on a piece of paper leaving them on your desk. Weak passwords are easy to crack. For example, a five-character password can be cracked in a matter of seconds.

Never share personal information such as address, phone, school name, credit card details, among others. If your personal information goes viral, your digital identity is compromised. Scammers at times use different types of scams to retract this personal information without you even knowing. Use common sense when you reply to emails, electronic messages or telephone calls. For example, you can simply check the email address of the sender and see whether it looks strange. An email address is more credible than No reputable organisation will ask you for your personal details through an email or SMS. If you encounter these types of emails or messages, ignore them. You wouldn't hand purely personal information out to strangers individually—don't hand it out to millions of people online.

Online threats are common, and if someone threatens you online, this is considered as a criminal offence and as such should be reported to law enforcement authorities.

Cyber Bullying is like physical bullying. This is common amongst children up to their teens. If someone notices cyber bullying or is a victim of cyber bullying, it is imperative that the problem is addressed to relevant authorities.

cyber security 1 article.jpgWhen 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 cybersecurity 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.

A top goal of cybercriminals is to trick you into downloading malware to steal information. This malware can be disguised as an app: anything from a popular game to something that checks traffic or the weather. Don't download apps that look suspicious or come from a site you don't trust.

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. You can identify secure sites by looking for an address that starts with https: (the S stands for secure) rather than simply http: They may also be marked by a padlock icon next to the address bar.

In conclusion remember that “Prevention is better than Cure”.