• The Risks of Unsafe Online Use
  • How to Stay Safe Online
  • What to Do During a Cyber Attack

The internetit’s where we spend most of our time these days. It’s where we get entertainment, where we connect with our friends and families no matter the distance, and even where we shop. With the multitude of data we input on a daily basis, it’s high time everyone gets concerned with their safety on the internet.

Like us, criminals are also turning on the internet to create havoc. But fortunately, you can keep yourself safe.

What is Internet Safety?

Internet or online safety is basically ensuring your sensitive data on the internet is kept safe. That includes your name, birthday, home address, log-in credentials to any website, and, most importantly, your bank details, among others. This encompasses all devices you use to log in on the internet, including your smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Generally, you protect yourself from any harm that may come from using the internet that could jeopardise your well-being, safety, privacy, and your mental health. 

Unfortunately, this is something that many people take for granted.

We use the internet subconsciously, and it has become a space for everyone to share anything under the blue, especially with the emergence of social media. But as we learn how to protect ourselves in the real world, it’s also essential to learn how to defend ourselves and our loved ones online.

The Risks of Unsafe Online Use

Tons of cybercrimes could put you and your family’s security and privacy in jeopardy.

Losing Money and Sensitive Information

As aforementioned, the most common reason why these malicious people steal confidential information is to make money. For example, these hackers could log into your account on a website and acquire the bank information you’ve put there. They would then use up all the money for themselves, leaving you with nothing.

Or, they would acquire sensitive information and would try to sell that on the dark web, which is the internet’s black market.

These are also prominent in phishing scams. Basically, a scammer would send an email to a suspect and would send them a link. Once the victim opens the link and inputs sensitive information, the malicious website will save the data and send it to the scammer.

There’s also what is known as ransomware, wherein cybercriminals would often target bigger corporations or well-known people. They would crack into their computer system and encrypt all the data within the system. These criminals will only offer the decryption key if the victim sends them the money.

In these cases, if the victims do not pay, they would either steal the information and sell it or would delete them entirely.

Privacy Invasion

Some hackers and creeps would hack into accounts of their victims to spy on them. These people often use the victim’s phone, so they could also hack into the victim’s social media and see their private messages, as well as their location.

The outcome on these scenarios differs--some would leak private images and videos, or try to sell them online. Others would use the information to follow you around and possibly pose a real threat to your safety.

Although the scenarios are different, it all ends up badly.

How to Stay Safe Online

With all of that said, here are some of the best tips to ensure you and your family stay safe even when you’re using the internet all the time.

Be careful with what you share.

There have been tons of times when hackers didn’t have to crack into their victim’s phone or computer to get sensitive information from them. Sometimes, the victims give it to them willingly.

The first rule of internet safety is to be careful with what you share. Be wary of people that ask you for confidential data, especially if you don’t know them. They might introduce themselves as friends or family members, but if you don’t know someone fully and trust them, never give them your credentials or bank account details.

Be sensitive to the type of data you share online and always think before you post anything. You should also be warier of the websites you use and where you input your information.

Turn your privacy settings on.

Browsers and most software and platforms all have their safety and privacy settings that you could and should turn on at all times. If you can customise these settings, do so. 

The bottom line is, you should be comfortable with whom you can share information with and what these websites and apps can take from you.

Use a personal WiFi or mobile internet connection wherever you go.

Always use a secure internet connection.

For instance, you can turn your WiFi connection safer by putting a strong password. Before anyone can connect, they would have to input the correct password. You can also talk to your internet service provider on how to keep your connection more secure.

Additionally, try not to use public WiFi connections to do essential and sensitive transactions. Don’t purchase anything or access your bank account online when you’re using public WiFi.

It is much safer to use a personal internet connection. Subscribe to a WiFi or mobile broadband plan instead, so you can enjoy a safer internet access wherever you go. 

Check out the best WiFi plans or some of the most reliable mobile broadband deals in Australia

Make changing passwords a habit.

When you’re signing up on anything, you’re reminded to create a strong password. By now, this should be a habit by everyone using the internet. 

Although it’s essential to make a password that you can remember, be sure that it’s still tough to crack.

But besides that, you should also start making it a habit to change passwords frequently. That means you should change your password on the social media platforms you use, your internet connection, and even your computer and phone passwords.

If you must, secure where you write down this information and never put them somewhere where strangers can easily find them.

What to Do During a Cyber Attack

According to the Criminal Code Act 1995, cybercrime offences include the following:

  • Forced invasion of someone else’s computer
  • Making unauthorised changes to someone else’s data 
  • Deleting and destroying data without permission from the owner
  • Damaging electronic communications, including denial of service attacks
  • Creating and distributing malicious software, such as malware, viruses, and ransomware
  • Accessing personal financial information without the owner’s consent

If you think you are a victim of any of these intrusions, these are the things you can do:

Call 000 immediately if you are receiving serious death threats or someone’s life is in danger. 

2. File a report to the Australian Cyber Security Centre if you or your business is a victim of:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Online sharing of intimate images or videos
  • Online shopping fraud
  • A long-distance romance scam
  • Identity theft
  • Fraudulent email
  • Internet phishing
  • Ransomware or malware security breach

3. To report online child abuse and exploitation cases, you can fill up and submit this form from the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation. However, if the child’s life is in immediate danger, make sure to call the nearest police station or dial 000 right away.

Takeaway

Being safe online is as important as being safe outside in the real world. It’s important to talk about this with everyone in the family, especially young kids who also use the internet on a daily basis. Better yet, monitor how they use the internet and customise what they can access.

Remember, the danger you can encounter online is not limited there--it could also jeopardise your safety in your own home.