What is Internet Safety/Cybersecurity?
In simple terms, internet safety is defined as staying safe on the internet and protecting yourself from cyber threats or cyber harms. Cyber threats and cyber harms usually consist of protecting your personal information, protecting your identity on the internet, and unsafe communications or people that may even affect your well-being or health.
What are the risks and dangers on the internet?
The internet can be an unforgiving and treacherous place if we do not use it responsibly. Aside from the obvious risks such as grooming, cyberbullying, and scams, there are many others that are harder to spot and might be more convincing. given that now in this digital world, everyone has the ability to post whatever and do whatever they desire on the internet. Many turn to the internet instead as they remain anonymous and they are able to escape into an online world.
Here are some of the more common internet threats:
- cyberbullying: this is basically bullying, but it takes place on the internet and on social media platforms instead.
- scams/phishing: misleading or untruthful websites that get you to give out your private or personal information for a reason
- grooming/cyber predators: pedophiles or sex offenders slowly manipulate you until you can be victimized and they gain your trust
- oversharing private information on social media:this means that you share too much about personal information on the internet(such as where you live, the school you go to,e.t.c)
- downloading dangerous malware/files:this is when you download either files or applications that contain viruses and can affect your computer
although i will not go in-depth into all of the internet threats, I want to share my experience on cyberbullying/grooming. this will be an example of how cyberbullying/grooming is like.
Blue Whale Challenge(My personal experience)
I was browsing on social media platforms when i suddenly got a message and a friend request from someone called “Jonathon Gallindo.”When i opened up the message, the person was asking me to play a game. Curious, i decided to continue to talk to him even though his profile picture and name were suspicious. When he asked me to play the “Blue Whale Challenge”,i decided to look it up on the web since i had never heard of it before.
I was shocked to find out that it was not an actual game meant for entertainment, but the objective of this game was to target young children and teenagers and make them commit suicide. It was named the blue whale challenge, as blue whales usually strand themselves at the beach or shore to die. Basically, the curator gives you 50 tasks to do over 50 days, and these are NOT normal tasks or even a game. They involve manipulating the victim slowly from a normal person to a depressed and suicidal one. The tasks include using a knife to make a cut in the victim’s arm, waking up at wee hours of the morning, or watching horror movies.
But why follow the curator’s tasks and instructions? Well, if the victim does not follow what the curator instructs him or her to do, they will post highly sensitive personal information on the internet, or threaten the victim that he will kill their family or kill the victim. And this leads me back to my point on why oversharing isn’t exactly the best idea.
New age of bullying,Trolling, Grooming, and Criminal Activity
many of us do not see the dark side of the internet, and all of the dangerous threats, risks, and dangers out there. The good news is, the criminal behind this has already been arrested and sentenced to prison. However, there are many impersonators of him still looking for children to cause harm.
How to be safe on the internet(Dos and Donts)
So, here are the solutions to those cyber threats and dangers.I mentioned a couple of points before stating some of the dangers and threats of using the internet.
Now, many teenagers and children do not know how to respond or react whenever they are being cyberbullied. i want to share some tips and what you should and should not do when you are being cyberbullied online.
1.Never or try not to respond or retaliate. In most cases, your response is what the aggresors are trying to achieve. Eventually, it will escalate and this will affect your mental health, and you may keep trying to retaliate at the suspect, which may eventually also turn you into a cyberbully.
2.Ignore or block and report the posts/aggresors. IF they keep spamming or try to get you to respond, or post something that may shame/aggravate you, just leave them alone and block or report them.
3. Like I mentioned before, never share your personal accounts/ passwords with anyone you don’t know online or even in real life. Someone could use your accounts to impersonate you and do something negative on your account- and this could lead you to be the one responsible for it.
4. Lastly, you want to report the incident to a trusted adult or your teacher.Save the evidence of the suspect cyberbullying as proof. They will know better on what to do and eventually will find the person responsible for this.
2.Scams/Phising( tries to obtain your personal banking/credit information)
Before we know how to protect ourselves against scams or phising attempts, we need to know how to recognise them first.
Phishing is basically disguising a website or an email as a legitimate letter to the victim, and the purpose of this message is to get the victim to click on the attachment so they can enter their personal banking details. Why should the victim follow up with this? Well, for example, they threaten the victim with a specific time limit to make them more anxious to get it done faster. Here is an example of a phishing scam.
The purpose of this email is to lead you into entering your personal details for a reason. Therefore, do not follow the instructions, and to avoid these phishing scams, always check the credibility of the website before proceeding to follow the instructions. There will also be no time limit for these types of cancellations for accounts, so it is likely that this is a scam or a phishing email. So in summary, when you get these types of emails, think logically and check the source, and if it sounds too true or exaggerated to be true, don’t follow what they say.
3.grooming/ oversharing on social media
I will talk about both points here as they are similar and oversharing usually leads to predators/pedophiles messaging you and then after you are groomed and victimized.
So first of all, how do we avoid or prevent ourselves from oversharing?
- Do not create too many accounts on many social media platforms
- DO not post or share about personal details( your location, the school you go to, your number, e.g)
- Try not to share too much about your life( keep yourself anonymous on social media)
- Turn your settings to only allow your friends to see your posts
- Be wary of who you talk to/ accept friend request to
- NEVER give out any personal details/ location to anyone you don’t know in person online(you never know who they may be)
- Use a VPN(Virtual Private Network) which will protect your IP address and this will protect you from hackers and scammers on social media
And with that, I conclude my blog today with the solutions and what you can do when you face these threats or dangers. The internet may be convenient and helpful for many, but we need to stay aware and avoid or prevent falling into these threats while we are browsing. I hope that you have learnt the dangers and threats on the internet today, and also know how to protect yourself and keep yourself safe on the internet. Let’s all use the internet responsibly and safely.