Safer Internet Day 2013

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Most of us use computers on a daily basis; whether we log on for work-related purposes, leisure, social media, news, to watch our favourite TV programmes, to watch a film or to do a bit of online shopping, computers are one of the most-used and popular means of technology and life in the electronic 21st century. And they’re only going to play more of a part in our lives in the future.

But, do we all use our computers in the knowledge that we’resafe from hackers, viruses and other harmful devices/people?

If you just answered yes to that question, then think again.Only a few of us actually make the effort to ensure our safety online andthere’s a whole lot more of us that use no internet security at all and leaveour information scribbled over the internet; making it easy for hackers andother people to access our personal information and impersonate us.

So, as today is Safer Internet Day 2013 here are some thingsyou should take in to account when you use a computer, and the internet, next.

• When using social media sites (Facebook, Twitter) orpersonal accounts (e.g. online stores such as Asos, Play, Amazon, Topshop etc),always use passwords that will be hard for people to guess. That way, you increaseyour personal safety. It’s advised that you use a mixture of capital lettersand at least three numbers for your password/s, and never use the same passwordfor different sites.

• Always change your social media account settings to private.That way, only people you know or choose to add as online friends can haveaccess to your personal social media accounts and heavily reduces the chancesof your personal data being stolen. 90% of social media sites set your privacysetting to open by default, so be aware of this and change your account toprivate in your account or privacy settings.

• Never post bank details on social media sites, online forumsor chat rooms. Anyone can access these sites and some people trawl through theinternet searching for personal bank details. This is a sure-fire way to getyour personal details stolen, your money stolen and for your online identity tobe stolen.

• Never post personal information on social media sites,online forums or chat rooms. Personal information can be: your address, yourtelephone number, your bank details, passwords etc.

• Never trust strangers or give them your personal details.Also, never go on webcam with a stranger or send photos of yourself, orfriends, to people you don’t know because it’s easy to print screen an image onthe screen and your image could then be seen by anybody in the world.

• Check the security and safety of your computer hardware,such as using passwords to prevent other people logging in to your personalcomputer account.

• Check for software and program vulnerabilities and that allyour software and anti-virus programs are up-to-date and working. If youhaven’t changed your password for a while, do it today.

• Do a virus sweep. If you find a virus, here’s how to removeone.

• Delete unused or unneeded files as they can use up memory.Get rid of cookies, especially Adobe Flash-related ones. Here’s how to deletethem.

• Back up your computer data by using USB sticks, hard drivesor sites such as Dropbox. It’s easy to lose important information so alwaysmake sure you back up important files. You should do this regularly, and to beextra safe you should back up your files and information every time you useyour computer.

• Never leave a computer you’re using unattended in a public place.This makes it really easy for others to steal your personal data.

• Never leave your laptop in open sight of other people.Always keep it out of sight, or take it with you and remember to take your USBstick or hard drive with you, too, when leaving a public place. You should alsoavoid carrying laptops in busy places where mugging and pickpocketing is knownto happen and always have your wits about you.

• When donating an old computer to charity, schools, or arecycling depot, always ensure the computer is wiped clean of everything. It’ssimple for anybody to access your personal information otherwise.

Onewebsite, in particular, that’s becoming increasingly popular amongst youngpeople is Ask.fm. Ask allows users to create a profile and add informationabout themselves. After an account has been created, the user can choose to askanother user of the site any question, anonymously or not. These questions canrange from innocent-enough questions, such as asking a person what their favouritefilm is but questions are also asked that can be hurtful and vindictive to aperson and these questions can be classed as a form of cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullyingis a very potent form of abuse that we’re hearing more and more about and anexample of how bad cyber-bullying can affect a young person is, in 2010, a 15year old girl committed suicide after becoming the subject of abuse onFormspring, which is a site very similar to Ask.fm.

Theanonymity that Ask.fm allows people to have means that users are given freedomto write anything at all to other users of the site, without fear of beingknown to the person they’re abusing. However, Ask is meant to be a forum forpeople to get to know each other or for celebrities to connect with their fans,but the site has taken an ugly turn and is now used for people to cyber-bullyothers and post harmful and malicious questions to other users.

Always stay safewhen using the internet and avoid websites that you feel may be used as aplatform for others to cyber-bully you.

Keep safe on Safer Internet Day 2013 and use these tips to ensure your safety offline and online.

http://www.ceop.police.uk/ – to report internet crime, child exploitation and provides an online protection centre.

http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ – a place which anyone can use to report if they feel uncomfortable or worried about someone they are chatting to online and you can find the latest information on the sites you like to visit, mobiles and new technology. Find out what’s good, what’s not and what you can do about it.

Related Article: Computer Security Day 2012

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