Online safety is not something unfamiliar to us—especially for a generation which grew up with modern technology. What more so in a period when the pandemic came upon the world? It literally forced people of all ages to switch to online activities.
Not only is technology used for entertainment, but it now became mandatory for work, business, and even studies. If online safety is overlooked as something that should be a reminder to the young whenever they play on multiplayer video games; it should now be strictly observed especially when different sorts of people use the internet every day more than ever.
Sure, we see entertaining features becoming popular these days—such as the mini-surge on the FaceApp application—becoming as popular as study tools such as Google Classroom. Not because a lot of people use it means it is ‘safe’.
But if we can’t be sure which application or platform to trust, how can we ensure we are completely secured online? Here are a few reminders you can keep in mind.
#1. Don’t give too much personal information
While there are applications such as online shopping and/or online delivery services which asks for information such as home address and contact number, remember that not all applications should be asking for these sort of information.
Why should a quiz-type application/website ask for your address or contact number when you are just using it for fun? Again, be wise enough to know when you are falling for a ‘trick’ to give away important personal information. If you are unsure whether you should give away personal info, make sure to double check the background of the application and/or website.
Otherwise, it is smart to ‘keep your guard up’ just like when you are protecting your personal belongings under your arm when you walk in the streets.
#2. Read before you click
We are all guilty—one way or another—of skipping the whole ‘terms and conditions’ or agreement during the start of an application or when we are using something for the first time.
Well, the developers didn’t waste their time preparing those texts as a means to delay our experience. Just like every contract, they are ensuring that we know their terms and conditions upon using their servi e. By this, it means we are agreeing on certain requirements on their part such as possibilities of gathering data from their users for company record.
As it is an agreement between developers and users; the moment you click on that ‘I agree’ button means you are ‘signing an understanding’. Should you have complaints about the app or certain concerns, know that these may have been covered as part of the agreement you signed up for before making use of their application. It is as simple as making sure you know what you are getting involved in so there will not be any cause to doubt in the future.
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#3. Beware of fake websites
There was one instance when my mother and I got excited with buying a pair of Nike shoes online—the newest model. We paid a huge amount of money only to find out the delivery will never come. That’s right: we got scammed.
What appears to be a legitimate online store was merely a ‘replica’ to lure unwary customers, especially those who are trying out online stores for the first time. This is why it is also good to have a bit of knowledge at your disposal as to what an official, authorized online store looks like compared to websites ran by hackers. One such knowledge is to familiarize yourself towards the proper website link for an official store to a scam site.
Another way to avoid falling into snares such as these is to look twice at what are being offered on the website. One mistake we did was we got overly excited with the price slash at this fake Nike store (especially we saw they were selling the latest model for a cheap price) we did not consider the possibility that someone wants to get free money off our bank accounts.
#4. Do not click on links immediately
There were days when a message would suddenly pop out of our social media accounts prompting us to click on links for a ‘surprise’ or other such convincing reasons. Well, this is not always the case.
Sometimes, this is just a virus waiting to be unleashed. Those ‘click to see your friends’ birthday message for you’ may not be the kind of surprise you want to receive. Sometimes, these links may appear as pornographic images or clips from a random friend online without their knowledge that they are sending these things. Chances are, virus or hacks have found their way to their account which prompts them to send these kinds of messages without them knowing.
No matter how tempting a link is, nor how convincing it may sound, double check to be sure that this is a legitimate link sent by one of your social media friends. Should you accidentaly open a website you deem suspicious, immediately close to avoid anymore inconveniences. Installing anti-virus softwares a good way to combat suspicious sites; however, there are some virus who are able to find its way in your gadget’s system even when the anti-virus protection is installed.
#5. Not because it’s popular means it’s safe
A lot of people are flocking to online means now, but that also gives hackers and negative what-nots perfect target for mass gathering of data. This is why they create applications or features which are disguised as merely entertainment to draw users of all ages to their ‘fun.’
Be careful! Not because everyone is using the application more than once means it is perfectly secure. If you have learned that an application everyone is using steals personal data, warn other people and explain to them what you have found out.
It may seem like you’re a ‘killjoy’, especially to those who are taking online safety for granted, but at least you gave made an effort to remind fellow online users than a famous application maybe leeching information from its users.
Educate others that not because it’s trending means everyone can freely use it and ignore safety measures. In fact, it is wise to be careful most especially when there are a lot of users because we may not identify who is taking our information and using it illegaly. It’s not being a ‘party pooper’… it’s just being more careful while having fun.
Online platforms does have its advantages while the coronavirus continues to stalk outdoors, however we need not go outside to look for a potential virus which could ruin our online experience. Plus, there are cybercriminals out there who feel like this is their moment to ‘highlight’ their skills and see if they could catch victims who would fall prey to their technological schemes.
When we think we are physically protected from a deadly disease, the question remains whether our identities are also protected from online bad guys who takes advantage of the situation we are having.
Remember: there may be a lot of online protocols and even internet safety seminars we could turn to, but if we refuse to practice awareness and do not educate ourselves even on the simplest safety measures, it may be either an enjoyable or rocky experience in the virtual setting.