Stay Safe in the Online World

The Internet is a wonderful place. It provides millions of people with access to information that they would have never been able to procure through traditional means. However, as many people have learned the hard way, there is also a darker side to the Internet where crimes are committed and criminals hide behind a wall of anonymity.

Things get hacked, people post embarrassing photos and children and adults are lured into sordid things just from a few clicks of the keyboard. The past year has seen two major hacking scandals. One was perpetuated by a legitimate, British media agency (which has now closed) and the other happened by a person with impure motives.

Both incidents highlighted how easily accessible the Internet is and that even the most well-protected websites are vulnerable to attacks. However, one of the biggest threats to their online security is the person who is the owner of the web accounts. Many cyber attackers use phishing to garner information from unwitting suspects.

Phishing is simple. It asks the intended victim to provide sensitive information so the attacker can have access to their accounts. Yet, if one thinks that they cannot be fooled by phishers, he or she should understand that many of them use complex methods to retrieve the information.

Phishers make almost exact replicas of emails from legitimate companies that the intended victim does business with. It then asks for the target to reveal their login information and password or else their accounts will be cancelled. This is a farce and meant to throw the target into confusion.

The simplest remedy is for the target to directly call the real company’s phone line and ask them to confirm the situation. Many times they will tell the target that the email is a scam and to ignore it.

The Internet’s anonymity makes it easier for people to send out fake emails and create fake profiles. Many a fake profile has caught a person unaware and it was only after they lost their money, their love or sadly their life.

Many people know about scams originating primarily in West Africa which target people in the West. Yet, there are also scams where these same people hide in online dating profiles and pose as handsome military officers and doctors hoping to find the loves of their lives.

Although the Internet has helped numerous people find the loves of their lives, they should question anyone that asks for money for medical bills, house repairs or anything else. It is a scam. However, most of these issues can be prevented by a simple Skype chat.

The scariest method that many people use is to attack children. Chat rooms are a notoriously dangerous place for a child to reside. Many men lure minors through age-appropriate chat rooms. They pose as a person (usually a boy) and gain a girl’s confidence.

Then they typically ask them to send lewd photos, meet them somewhere or run away from home to be with them. This is a very dangerous thing to do and parents should monitor their children’s interactions within chat rooms (including Facebook) or block them altogether.

Another major security issue is malware. Malware infects a computer and sends information back to the source. There are very good malware blockers on the market. Yet the computer’s owner should continue to update all antivirus programs and only use one antivirus program to prevent multiple blockers from cancelling each other out.

Although the Internet has managed to transform the world as we know it, it has also given criminals an endless supply of potential targets. Yet, people should know the pitfalls of the darkest reaches of the Internet in order to protect themselves and their families from any unfortunate incidents.

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