A Cyber Security Guide For Our Young Readers

Internet is now an unavoidable part of our daily life. Like grownups, the youngsters of the modern world spend a lot of their time online and they utilize the Internet for their educational, recreational and social purposes.

With the increased exposure to the cyber world, the chances of online users encountering the dark sides of Internet becomes a stark reality and in the case of young users, falling prey to the perils of cyber crime is always a possibility. Here we are presenting a short guide that will help our young readers to overcome the dangers of the cyber world. So go ahead and read this guide and be smart and safe while using the Internet.

The first step – Securing the Device

The basics of remaining safe and secure while going online is to ensure that the device – computer or the mobile device - from which you connect to the Internet is protected and up-to-date. You should make sure that all the software updates and software patches for the operating system, browser software and security software are periodically applied to keep the computing environment safe. You can ask the help of your parents or a responsible adult in keeping the software updated.

You should also ask your parents to install defensive mechanisms like anti-virus software, anti-malware packages and firewall software on the family computer and your personal devices against security threats.

Beware of strangers!

In real life we are always taught to be cautious of absolute strangers. In the cyber world too, it is sensible to be on your guard against online users who are strangers to you. Never reveal anything about you to online strangers and never trust the websites and information that they share with you.

Never allow strangers to trick you into installing unknown software programs on your computer or make you divulge personal details about you to them. If they ask to meet you in person in real world, you should not respond and should immediately inform your parents or responsible adults to take appropriate action.

Online Privacy is important

You should always keep personal information about you private and should be careful while sharing such details on online platforms. Seemingly innocent pieces of information like your name, email address, date of birth etc left carelessly on social media platforms and online forums can be used by malicious individuals to steal your identity.

Always refrain from sharing personal information like name, school name, age, date of birth, address, phone numbers, details of your parents, your family vehicle details, etc. on online platforms without permission from your parents. You should also show extreme caution while posting private photographs or videos of you or your family members on unprotected websites.

Be smart and avoid getting scammed!

Online fraudsters and scammers are always on the lookout for stealing your identity and using it for financial benefits and for posing as you while conducting illegal activities. For this purpose they employ a variety of scams to dupe you into revealing your personal information and make you visit malicious websites, which install malware software that help them in keeping track of all your online activities.

Avoiding emails and online advertisements offering freebies, gifts and such unbelievable schemes are always recommended for staying safe from getting scammed. You should also be cautious before clicking on links in email messages and you should consult with your parents before downloading and installing software programs that are not familiar.

Protect your Password

As passwords are the key to your online world, you should use extreme caution in selecting and using them. Always keep your passwords safe and personal by never revealing them even to your close friends. While selecting a password you should make sure it is strong, non-guessable and not any keyword personally related to your identity. It is a safe practice to use different passwords for each of your online accounts.

You can create a relatively strong password by combining alphabets, numbers and special characters in a random order and by keeping the minimum length of the password eight characters.

Always keep in mind that whatever actions that you do online are permanent and in most cases cannot be completely removed or reverted back. So be wise and think twice before posting anything – be it a simple text message or a photograph or a video. Like in real life, maintaining a polite tone and taking care not to hurt other people’s feelings will help you in gaining other peoples respect and can help you in avoiding a lot of embarrassing or even seriously damaging online experiences.

Cyber bullies are another kind of threat to watch out while being online. The best remedy for any bullying or stalking behavior encountered on the Internet is informing your parents about the incident. Never respond to such threatening messages yourself and let the adult’s take care of the situation with proper control. Involving your parents in your online activities is a great way to have a safe online experience.