Internet: How To Protect Yourself Online


The internet can be a wonderful place. From the comfort of your bed, room, office or whatever part of the universe you occupy, you can access nearly all of the world’s information at the touch of a button (and strong Wi-Fi connection). However, all this convenience did not come without its fair share of headaches.

The latest app to cause uproar on the interwebs, Sarahah, came just after stories of people committing suicide after playing the game Blue Whale. The former is an honesty app created for people to give honest feedback to other people and organizations while the latter is a game played in steps of increasing difficulty, with the ultimate challenge being suicide. Both these platforms give an honest glimpse into the murk that characterizes the internet’s dark side. While Sarahah was intended as a positive thing, numerous reports of abuse and bullying have come up owing to the anonymity guaranteed. Even more common are the stories of leaked private pictures that destroy reputations every other day.

With this in mind, how is a person to navigate the internet safely? Here are a few tips.

1. Social Media

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the most used social apps among millennials. They have one thing in common, aside from the interaction they offer: the block button. Each of these platforms offer users the opportunity to curate their feeds to their particular tastes. You have the final say in who views your posts. While amassing a wide following might be tempting, you must think about whether you want to let the whole world have access to your life. If popularity is important to you, or is a part of your job, a better option would be to run a parallel account so as to separate your personal life from the rest.

2. Installing apps

How many times have you clicked on the accept terms and conditions button without reading them at all? The Sarahah app, for one, was later discovered to upload users’ contacts after being installed. Although it doesn’t seem to make any use of the information, there’s no reason why anyone should want to take that risk. Similarly, the FOMO that drives people to download apps just so they can be in the loop without really considering the consequences is ultimately dangerous. Read the fine print and weigh the pros and cons for yourself before downloading an app.

3. Firewalls

An easy way to monitor the incoming and outgoing traffic of data on your phone would be to install a security app such as Net Guard. It is a third-party firewall designed to prevent unauthorized access to your data. Depending on the settings you decide on, you could limit access to offensive websites and potential hackers. As a bonus, it could save your data.

4. Common sense

All the rules could be written down for you but unless you take it upon yourself to be a smart internet user, it will all be lost on you. For one, sending pictures over apps such as Telegram is safer than, say WhatsApp. This is not to say that you’d be completely safe, there’s still the minimal chance that they’d be accessed by third parties. Similarly, the receiver of the pictures should be someone worthy of your trust, else they’ll leak them.

Emails are some of the longest running scams on the internet. Do not open attachments from sources you do not trust, or share private details with strangers. Ensure your antivirus is updated and don’t run programs whose source you do not know. Your passwords should not be the same for all your sites as this increases your risk.

Following these quick tips should minimize your risk as you browse the internet. Lastly, it goes without saying, do not be a troll. If you troll people, you must be willing to take as much as you dish out.

Reference: 5 Easy Tips To Avoid Viruses


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Imali Asena is a lover of words, currently writing an escape