Are we safe online?

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How safe is our life online? What kind of illusion are we living in? Can the internet really be trusted? How secure is entering your personal details on the internet? And whose job is it to make sure that all the exchange of information is safe and sound?

An indefinite concept which holds onto the idea that more and more of our data is now available on someone else’s computer and not on ours. 

How are we affected?

There are a bunch of things we are generally involved in. We at times, blindly enter data on virtual platforms. We are also socially active, we have our accounts on almost every other social media platform. Moreover, things such as bank details, social media accounts, and personal documents are a part of our everyday life. Those are something that we won’t supply to the general public. Or give out to a random stranger. However, electronic mails and printouts have replaced the old fashioned handwritten letter. One in every four web users will use online banking almost the other day. Obviously, this is a great step forward. As it makes our everyday lives easier – but it also comes at a price if we are not careful enough. Online security matters, and you can find out why below.

What is a hacker capable of?

A hacker is skilled enough to provide the general public quite a lot of harm. But out of many things, it depends on their motives. However, hackers can also send threats and viruses around the Internet to target everyday users, and also hack into their systems. This could contain Keylogging, a very harmful virus to log everything anybody types on their keyboard. And once it does, the person on the receiving end would be able to see everything you have typed since your system has contracted the threat. 

Through Remote access tools, hackers are able to gain full access to your computer through malicious code, where they will be able to see your screen, passwords, and even your webcam if you have one. They can also control your computer, meaning they could point you to any sinister sites, or go through your files and emails.

How scary is social media?

Another popular form of hacking today is Facebook phishing. Often, if you have liked pages or are part of groups on Facebook, you will see links that look too good to be true, or just plain suspicious. Nine times out of ten, this is because they are. Unfortunately, there are ways to give certain applications on Facebook full access to your account; what you post, what pages you like, and who you message. This virus will spread the link, affecting others online. Basically, the only straightforward way to avoid this is to not click on them.

Let’s put on the light on some serious statistics. Credits: bizMsolutions

A Few Statistics

o   91% of online adults use social media regularly.

o   Out of 100, 69 of the teens have their own computer.

o   73% of teens are on a social networking site

o   There are more devices connected to the Internet than there are people on the Earth

General Statistics

o   1/3 of kids online have been contacted by a stranger and half of these were inappropriate contact

o   75% of youth who received an online sexual solicitation did not tell a parent

A Little Worrying Statistics

o   In 26 – 50% of online sex crimes against minors, offenders disseminated information and/or pictures of the victim through the victim’s personal social networking site.

o    Of the active adult users of Facebook, 66% reported they did not know privacy controls existed on Facebook and/or they did not know how to use the privacy controls.

o    30% of 7-12-year-olds and 11% of 13-16-year-olds say no one has spoken to them about staying safe online

o   26% of teens know someone something bad has happened to because of information or photos posted online.

Potential Dangers

  1.     Strangers gain access to your family’s private information
  2.     Phishing scams
  3.     Spammers gain access to your email or messaging system & send viruses in the form of an email from you
  4.     Stalking or unwanted attention from strangers
  5.     Identity theft
  6.     Offline theft due to knowledge of homeowner’s whereabouts
  7.     Discrimination based on personal views and beliefs
  8.     Exposure to bullying, hate, or other negative materials
  9.     Exposure to inappropriate content for minors
  10. Termination of employment due to inadvertently leaking sensitive work information or negativity towards an employer
  11. Encouraging negative behaviors by providing easy and frequent access to negativity and poor behavior from others along with a sense of anonymity

What’s our take on not being a victim?

  1.     Limit who can see what you post
  2.     Limit what you post
  3.     Don’t create passwords that are common — “Someone found out my Facebook password. GREAT! Now I have to change my dog’s name!”
  4.     Don’t click on every funny or intriguing link you see
  5.     If a friend sends you something that is out of character for them, don’t open it! Contact them separately and ask if the message was from them. Their account may have been hacked!
  6.     Be respectful of others’ photos and personal information.  Don’t share anything you don’t have permission to share.
  7.     Review your personal profile. Don’t share personal information even within the confines of your personal and private profile.
  8.     Don’t allow children in your home to use social media unmonitored
  9.     Talk to family members about online safety (this includes young and older family members)
  10.     Run regular virus scans on your home computers or laptops.
  11.     Review the privacy settings on each of your social and sharing platforms.

What else?

Similarly, it’s not only Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram that we need to pay attention to. But the same thing exists for Whatsapp as well. The personal messaging/chatting application used by a majority of people. Usually, it has been reported that the topics they talk about to their friends or family members tend to appear on other browsing platforms the very next day. For example, if you were talking about Starbucks to your friend, that you don’t do normally, you would most probably see an advertisement pop on Instagram about the same. All our conversations are being tracked all the time and there’s almost nothing we could do about it. It’s just that we can only limit ourselves. 

Conclusion

Be extremely careful when you share your important documents or delicate conversations online, restrict to offline methods as much as possible. 

All these might be very easy to talk about but equally difficult to follow. The Internet is like the tip of the iceberg, online conventions might seem really insignificant but they hold great depth.