Every man, woman, boy and girl has access to the Internet. Through this medium, they are able to communicate across borders, learn new things, organize thoughts and develop ideas. The luxury of this concept is often classified as “Internet freedom”.
While this is indeed something that everyone enjoys having, it can prove to be quite detrimental to all those who partake in it. Why is this so? This is due to the fact that in enjoying the liberty of “Internet freedom”, they fail to look at the bigger picture which involves safety. With the access to personal information, unsuspecting individuals are able to manipulate and exploit for their own benefit.
Internet safety is the practice of safeguarding private information which is transmitted across the World Wide Web. It stresses the reality that though the Internet at its core function is a vehicle for great advances, it can also be used to execute a lot of illegal activities. Stalking for example is one of the many occurrences that can be fueled through the Internet. Though some people will refuse to admit it, they are too “free” with the details of their life. Particularly through social media platforms they will post not only their thoughts but where they are or where they are going to be at every minute of the day. If they do not post it themselves, there are apps that an individual can use to acquire the information and thus facilitate the phenomenon of stalking. The dangers of this cannot be stressed enough, as not every stalker will constantly watch from afar but also seek to make advances.
Another major issue arising from the liberty through which people use the Internet is identity theft. There are those who will freely post a lot of personal information on various platforms, and this is just what cybercriminals thrive to steal identities. With access to information such as the full name, date of birth, and even place of employment they are able to investigate and uncover the other necessary details to go about building a new life without the victim even knowing.
By visiting websites riddled with spam or phishing software, an Internet user could be surfing their esteemed life and reputation away without even knowing it. These have the ability to deposit viruses or worms into the devices of all who engage in them and acquire all the relevant personal files to facilitate their exploits. They also have key-logging mechanisms which can gather everything entered into the computer which is how they are able to get passwords to emails and back accounts and other databases where an individual’s personal files would be stored.
There have been many reports of individuals receiving phone calls from debt collectors asking when they are going to start paying back on loans or worse be denied a job due to the fact that they have a criminal record. In both scenarios, the interesting factor to consider is that the individual had no knowledge of the loan or the criminal offense – this is what ID theft is all about. Personal information being exploited to the benefit of someone else, especially without the victim’s knowledge.
Then there is the freedom with which children are allowed to operate. In their use of the Internet they are not always conscious of the websites they are visiting or the information they are disclosing on these sites. Their identities can also be stolen and as a matter of fact, they take up a lot of the victimized demography. In most instances the awareness that this phenomenon has occurred comes years afterwards given the reality that they do not take out loans or credit cards or any other activity that would raise awareness of the information misuse.
It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to practice safety while on the Internet. This goes for both children and adults. While there is great freedom afforded through use of the Internet, there are common practices that can be observed to limit the occurrence of the exploitation:
Limit shared information
There is no merit an individual can achieve through sharing all details of their personal details on social media platforms. By extension do not have weak passwords or share them with others – they may not be as protective with their uses.
This is the software that can be used to protect an individual’s personal computer system from malicious software that can be picked up online. Having an up-to-date firewall system goes a far way in ensuring that spyware and malware that can be deposited on a system to acquire are kept out.
Implement parental control
As the title indicates, it is for the purpose of parents governing the Internet use of their children. It allows them to filter the content on their computers and request a password if any website is to be accessed. It is a proven reality that parents do not utilize this measure often enough and is put forward as the reason children become victims so often of a stolen identity.
Using public computers
People are often advised not to use public computers when entering sensitive information. However, there are a number of issues that can arise with this such as the browsing history being left on the system or someone watching while an Internet user enters their personal information. There is always a way for the proprietors of these systems to access the information after a user has left.