Maintain your online safety

As the number of internet users continues to grow worldwide, so too the concern for Internet safety. In the past, Internet safety was mostly about protecting your computer from viruses. We’re now learning to be cognisant of everything from malicious users (spam, phishing, cyber bullying, cyber stalking etc), websites and software (malware, computer viruses, etc) to various types of obscene or offensive content.

The rise of the smartphone has opened up a world of opportunity in terms of financial management, business communications and social media, enabling us to manage our lives on-the-go.

This in turn means that the amount of personal information stored on our phones rivals that of our laptops, PCs and tablets, yet many of us forego the recommended safety precautions.

Our internet consumption too has increased exponentially in recent years, with the average person spending an average of 27 hours per week online. According to the Pew Research Centre survey, 95 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 use the Internet and 80 percent of those online teens use social media sites.

The potential for the internet to be a valuable and a fun resource for entertainment, making friends, keeping in touch and learning is undoubtedly huge.

However, if you use the internet, you could be at risk of illegal activity or abuse – be it bullying or fraud. A 2013 survey from the Centres for Disease Control found that 14,8 percent of students had been electronically bullied, including being bullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting, during the 12 months before the survey.

We have to make sure we’re protected and follow common sense rules to limit the chance of being targeted. Follow these five tips by ZOL Zimbabwe to stay safe online, because you deserve to live like this!

TIPS ON HOW TO STAY SAFE

Keep it personal: Never give out your personal information

Update early and often: No matter how quickly software makers push out an update, it won’t do you any good if you don’t actually install it. So install updates as soon as they’re available, especially those marked “critical.” Better yet, set your OS and apps to automatically update if possible. This includes your antivirus!

Don’t share: The easiest way for an attacker to get access to your logins is to fool you into giving them up. This is usually achieved via a “phishing” email that looks like it’s from your bank or employer.

Step away from the file: The other way scammers get you is by sending a false attachment, like an invoice or a contract for something you allegedly ordered. Opening the document usually infects your computer. If you don’t recognize the sender, just delete the email. If the message appears to come from a friend or colleague, make triple sure that person actually sent it to you before you open it.

Think of the children: Sexting, cyberbullies, and grooming— being a parent of an Internet-age child isn’t easy.

The best thing you can do is educate yourself. The Portraz and Childline sites have helpful guides to keeping kids safe from cyberbullies and more.

  • Portraz–www.portraz.gov.zw
  • Childline–www.childline.co.zw
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