What is Safer Internet Day?
Updated: Feb 22
Today is Safer Internet Day! Yes, I know, another holiday, but this event is designed to help you. Created in 2004, Safer Internet Day is designed to educate people about online safety issues on the web such as cyberbullying, social media scams, email scams, and identity theft. It's important that we all come together to help improve internet safety. As a tech expert who helps people with computers and associated gadgets, I've learned that a majority of Internet security issues can be solved with some simple steps and staying educated with the best safety practices. Below I’ve detailed some simple things everyone including kids, parents, and CEOs, can immediately do to stay safe for a better internet.
1. Use Passphrases rather than passwords to strengthen your online accounts. Passphrases are a combination of unrelated words put together to form a password. Samples of passphrases include 'RubberCup 591!' 'HotFrisebee271?' or 'SmartLake953+' This method helps you stay creative in making passwords and keeps you from using passwords that tie you to your personal life. The things that are close to you, you've probably shared on social media such as your birthday, names of loved ones (including pets), and places you've visited. Passphrases allow you to create passwords that are easier to remember, secure, and don't tie you to information about you that is on the web. I hope I don't have to say this, but NEVER use the same passwords for all of your online accounts.
2. Use two-factor authentication: At some point and time, one of your online accounts is probably going to get compromised. Setting up Two Factor Authentication or 2 Step Authentication for all of your online accounts means you have second line of defense when one of your accounts is breached. This is how it works. Let's say a criminal gains the user name and passwords to one or more of your accounts. When they try to log in, they have to verify that they have permission to access the account. This is either in the form or clicking on a link in an email or a text message that is sent to you when you log in from a new location. If the criminal can't verify they are authorized to access your account, they are denied entry. Every online you use including your social media, financial, home security and email accounts allow you to enable two-factor authentication. Setup your accounts today with this protection.
3. Keep your social media settings private. Your favorite social media accounts allow people to find you from Google and other search engines. Change your settings in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep strangers from gathering personal information about what you post online. These settings can be changed from 'Settings' then 'Privacy and Security'.
4. Monitor Your Kids Online Activity. Kids of all ages are curious about the information the Internet has to share. Unfortunately, this can lead them to areas their young minds are not ready for and can put them in danger with cyberbullies, doing, and online predators. There's no one solution that will keep them safe from the mature and dangerous content that lurks on the web. The best solution is to use a combination of parental control software on all devices (including gaming consoles) and put your hands on their devices to see what places they are visiting on the web. If technology isn't your thing, you can ask me for help with the best practices to keep your kids safe. I'm an expert as I have two young sons whom I have to monitor.
5. Keep All of Your Devices Up to Date. Those alerts to download the latest patches and updates aren't designed to annoy you or to install COVID tracking software on your devices. They are designed to help keep your and your computers, smartphone, and tablets safe from new threats that are emerging on the Internet. Although cybercriminals have turned more to scamming people rather than trying to break into devices doesn't mean they don't try. All of the tech companies are working to identify new threats. When a vulnerability is discovered in a device, the issue to a patch to keep you safe. Next time you see that alert that an update is available, download it immediately.
6. Think Before You Click on links in Texts, Emails, and on Social Media. I think I say this once a week, but I will say it again. 99% of cybercrime requires user interaction. This means that as long as you aren't clicking on strange links that appear in your inbox, social media feeds/messenger, and text messages, you are safe from the majority of threats out there. Spam messages via text messages, email, and phone calls are how most people get scammed and have their devices breached and hacked. If it looks strange, sounds too good to be true, or you're unsure, just don't click on it and delete it.
If we're all going to come together for a safer Internet, don’t just follow these tips yourself. Tell your kids, your family, and your co-workers. I know these tips may not seem like much, but following them can make a big impact.
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