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Cyber Safety

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 24 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Cyber Safety online Safety internet

It seems like in this day and age we can do anything on the Web. We can shop, we can chat, we can plan our holidays, we can buy music and we can even watch our favourite films. These cyber lives can become intense, and sometimes we feel so safe sitting in our own rooms staring at our screens that we forget we are actually connecting with millions of others throughout the world. Don't let your familiar four walls lull you into a false sense of security, become a cyber safety expert today.

Be Elusive

Keeping your identity a secret is always a good idea when you are communicating with strangers on the Internet. By all means chat and have fun, but don't divulge anything personal to someone you have quite literally never met before. Never:

  • Choose a screen name or handle that gives away your name, age, sex or location.
  • Give out your personal email address, phone number or address.
  • Reveal your age or location, whether explicitly or via clues.
  • Gossip about those you know - you never know who is reading it or where it will be passed.
  • Send pictures of yourself to someone you don't know.
  • Travel alone to meet someone you know only via the Internet.
  • Engage in "cyber sex" with or send intimate pictures to strangers.
  • Set up a webcam to communicate with someone you don't know.
  • Feel pressured by someone you meet online. Just log off instead!

Shop Smart

One of the greatest invasions of privacy that can occur across the Internet is financial fraud and outright theft. Everyday credit card and bank details are electronically tracked and stolen online, draining the accounts of hard working, honest Internet. To protect yourself from such a disaster, remember to:

  • Confirm that the website address from which you are buying items begins with https:// (the "s" is crucial - it stands for "secure").
  • Look for a tiny padlock icon at the bottom of the screen. This reaffirms the security of the site.
  • Always take down the vendor's contact details in case you have a problem with the transaction later.
  • Make a note of the site's exchange and return policies in case of an emergency.
  • Print out a receipt of your purchase for your records.
  • Never send financial account details to emails. If your bank wants to contact you, they will call or send an official letter.
  • Not be fooled by emails saying you have won a lottery or are needed to accept millions of pounds from war torn countries. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Protecting your identity and your finances are the two most worthwhile things you can do when using the Internet. With baddies getting ever more sophisticated in their methods, it's down to you to remain just as vigilant and sophisticated about your safety. The good news is that the Internet is only a means of communicating, and you can drop it at any time. Don't ever feel as though you owe anyone anything on the Web, and don't let anyone else feel that way about you. Good luck!

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