07 Feb Safer Internet: 7 Risks & Quick Fixes

SID2017

Ireland along with 120 countries in the world will unite in encouraging positive internet usage for Safer Internet Day (SID). SID promotes a safer and better internet for all users, especially young people.

There are pretty obvious reasons. Our hyper-connected age has evolved the way we communicate and learn but in the same instances, left us more vulnerable than ever.

Financial fraud, ‘alternative’ facts and cyber-bullying are heavy reasons why we should educate not just our young people, but anyone with little knowledge about net responsibility.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the negative trends we are uniting to tackle for 2017’s Safe Internet Day.

The IoT: Security As Soft As A Cloud

Our connected age allows for continuous digital device chatter. We can send and receive huge amounts of information on any device with internet connectivity.

This allows for unique technology experience and data accessibility but there is a downside. We’ve seen what can happen when Cloud accounts get hacked.

Leaked emails, salacious selfies, financial difficulty – but how is this happening? Well the dialogue between your devices can create a backdoor into your sensitive data.

As I’ve pointed in a number of posts – you can secure your computer with anti-virus software but it’s quite rare that your thermostat will have that level of sophistication. Internet securities are still catching up with the expanded catalogue of devices, so in the mean time – it’s important to be safe.

TIPS

Minimise IoT use on public networks. Secure your home network and more importantly, work network. Data security is imperative, and a serious breach could be the death of any business.

Catfishing

Catfishing

Have you ever gotten the sneaking suspicion that someone you’re speaking to online isn’t quite what they seem? They might not be! Cat fishing is creating a fake social media profile – for dating or otherwise – and convincing one or more people you are this fake person.

Some catfish for financial motivations, others just for a connection with someone but the results always follow a similar theme: heartbreak, dejection and mistrust.

They’re a tabloid’s dream after the hit MTV series, Catfish – but many others have felt the all too real pain of such flagrant misrepresentation. To make matters worse, there are now a whole arsenal of deceptive tools that enable advanced catfishing;

— GPS Location Changer: Deviously appear to be anywhere in the world!
— Create a Fake Significant Other: Conjure a fake GF. NFL star Manti Te’o could have used this…

At the risk of making this a pro-catfishing blog, I’ll leave the examples at that. The key to avoiding cat fishing? Unfortunately it’s common sense, but the heart wants what it wants!

TIPS

Everything has a webcam on it these days, consider it the prenuptial of online dating. Do not buy into the romance… oh goodness, that sounds so cynical…

Phishing

A tried and tested classic – phishing. The art of asking someone key questions to determine the answer to their security password. This can come in fake email format but it can also happen in work, at school – anywhere really!

It’s almost absurd that anyone be fooled in this enlightened age, but considering the amount of folks that have a one-size-fits-all approach to passwords — the danger is still there!

TIPS

– Best you keep keywords cryptic. “What school did you go to” is a bad secret question.
– Your bank or financial institution will never email you out of the blue with changes.

Fake News, Alternative Facts

Fake News

Ah yes, fake news and alternative facts – the 2010s has given rise to a most curious media era. There is a tendency for the less net-savvy person to believe anything they read.

How often has one of your friends shared a The Onion article with you and a very serious “WTF?!” comment? Being brazen satire, the Onion is most benign version of fake news. The true rise of fake news emerged during the 2016 US Presidential Election.

Social media feeds were flooded with monetised, impurely motivated fake news whose purpose was to misinform as opposed to the Onion and Waterford Whisperer News’ satirical takes.

Fake news can be far more insidious by merely bending the truth, exaggerating figures and tweaking facts to fit a narrative. This miasma of (mis)information has already made it very difficult to determine truth from fiction.

Without new media awareness for children and adults, there’s a possibility of us being the most yet least informed generation of all time.

TIPS

A little bit of knowledge is a bad thing. If you come across something on your social media feed – research it! You’ll gain a huge depth of knowledge or find out it was fake – win / win!

General Browsing

How many times have you seen the “This Page is Not Secure” error page in the last few weeks? If the answer is more than a couple, then you’re probably taking some serious internet risks.

It’s important to ensure any site you’re logging into is either trusted by verification tools or failing that, you’ve had some experience with them before. You should be particularly alert for any untrusted page asking for your financials.

If reading this has alerted you to the danger of fraud, you’re probably already in hot water…

TIPS

– Look out for HTTPS (the “S” stands for secure. Makes sense, right?)
– Be aware of your trusted sites, avoid offshoot versions.
You probably haven’t won a million dollars, close the popup and run a scan.
– Install Anti-Virus / Anti-Spyware Software / Enhance your Router Firewall.
– Don’t click bogus links like Amazong.con – stick to sites your know and trust.
– Hire a programmer to design elaborate security architecture for your home network… well… if you can afford it.

Startup, Locked Down

Due to the frantic nature of start ups, data security can be rudimentary and can be targeted with what is known as ‘carding.’

This is the process of accessing sensitive data through a company’s Ecommerce portal and using these details to create mimic Amazon / eBay accounts. Essentially selling card details or bought items to the highest bidder.

TIPS

Prioritise data-security from the outset. Even one compromise can be a death-knell for a company. Take a Fort Knox approach to customer data.

Youth, The Next Generation

Technology is constantly shaping our lives and the lives of those around us, and none more so than children. As vulnerable as we are to everything mentioned above, impressionable children are at a higher risk.

It’s a scary thought when you break down who can shape the mind of children and unfortunately it’s not always goofy, clean Youtube streamers like PewDiePie.

“Young people tell us that there is a clear knowledge gap between them and their parents. Whilst many parents think they know what their children look at online, children themselves tell us different.” said John Grounds, NSPCC Director of Child Protection Consultancy in the UK.

Quoted from Safe Internet Day 2012, the internet is now more sophisticated and accessible than ever. This raises eyebrows about what young people are browsing, sending and in some cases – enduring.

When most of us were in primary school, bullying and sexual education were always hot issues. They endure as hot topics, with far more confusing sexting and cyberbullying added into the mix.

It’s important for the our generation to be informed about the perils that exist on the internet and even more important for them to pass on this information to the next.

The difference between what parents know and what they think they know is a knowledge gap we need to bridge and no, this doesn’t mean peering at a child’s phone over their shoulder.

TIPS

– All of the above tips
– Watch out for any troubling behaviour akin to a child being bullied.
– Educate your child / classroom on the benefits of good internet use.
– Check out Webwise.ie for handy tips and resources for combatting cyber-malevolence.

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