#SaferInternetDay: 10 Ways you can improve safety online

Photo by Brandy Kennedy on Unsplash

Yearly, Safer Internet Day is celebrated to increase awareness on making the internet a safer and better place for all, especially children and young people.

Meaningful celebrations for awareness and change can get muddled up in fanfare and ironically hold no meaning for many. Beyond hashtags and awareness, wondering how to begin improving safety online for yourself and others? Stay with me.

1. Your Passwords

Use strong, different passwords to protect your online accounts from being hacked. When your online accounts are hacked, someone else gains access and could pretend to be you and mislead others or worse spend your money — if it is a finance platform.

For platforms that don’t insist on numbers only, Strong is defined as a combination of alphabets, numbers and special characters of at least six letters.

Also maintain different passwords for different accounts. That may sound like a lot considering all the new accounts one has to maintain. In that case, consider using password manager apps to store passwords and not forget them.

What to do now: Last changed your passwords on top visited platforms a year ago? Change them now.

2. Your extra security setup

Many online platforms such as social media and personal email platforms now recommend a 2-Factor authentication method to secure accounts. How it works is that you will need to provide a password and also prove your identity some other way e.g., via a code through SMS to gain access. This is an extra measure to prevent someone else from gaining access to your online accounts.

What to do now: Set up 2-Factor authentication on your top visited platforms e.g., social media and email platforms.

3. Your online posts

Minimize posting personal information online that can be used to trace your consistent location or cloned and used against you. These can be as random as posting photos of your debit or credit card with details visible or even a harmless photo of your child in school uniform. Malicious people could begin a transaction or even plan a ransomed kidnap with the information in these examples.

What to do now: Make a mental list of personal information never to post online.

4. Your online browsing habits

Develop safe online browsing habits. Did you bump up to an unrelated website asking you to enter your password to your favorite social media platform without reason? You really shouldn’t.
Pay attention to website URLs — an extra alphabet is very likely to be a malicious website that can take advantage of your details.

Also, using someone else’s PC to check up your social media? Log in via incognito browser and if you don’t, ensure to log out when you are done and not save your password details.

What to do now: Research more on Safe browsing habits online.

5. Your words online

Be Kind Online. You may not agree to a point made however you can counter the point without insults. You can also choose not to attempt to change everyone’s mind immediately. They may get it immediately, later or never.

You may not fully understand a crisis situation such as a person expressing suicidal thoughts. You can keep your words positive, helpful or quiet.

What to do now: Reflect on your last three sentences to someone else online. Can it be better?

6. Your actions online

Protect your online Reputation. What posts are you liking and why? What posts are you engaging on and why?

When you support contrarian posts online, they are a reflection of your character as well. When you make contrarian posts online, they are a reflection of your person as well. Something bad you typed online today can count against you later in the future. Importantly, I want you to see it differently. It’s not about wearing a new mask online and being all black beneath. It’s about being the sort of person that doesn’t need a mask at all.

Ensure your thoughts are clean and actions well intended — not because anyone is watching but because you should be becoming a better version of yourself daily.

What to do now: Check your online profiles and check if your last 5 actions reflect a version of you that you are proud of.

7. Others online identities

Many people including celebrities have fake social media accounts being opened in their names, posting content as them. This can be misleading. Unfortunately, many people do not see it as harmful. Pay close attention to social media accounts and websites to be sure they are the actual people you think they are. In most cases, they ask for financial aid. Don’t be quick to send any without other confirmation means.

What to do now: Report hacked, cloned or mischievous (parody) accounts for take downs.

8. Your Online Wellbeing

Your total health now has a new component — your online health. According to Childnet, ‘What we see online can influence us in different ways. Our online wellbeing can be influenced by the content we see, the interactions we have, the choices we make, and even how long we spend using technology and the internet.’

Understand that you can take breaks from online interactions through the day to allow for physical interactions as well. Also, build up healthier habits by setting limits for how long you spend online.

What to do now: Prune your social media account connections. You don’t have to stay connected to accounts that negatively affect you.

9. Your role to younger ones

Some of us have kids, young cousins and nephews and nieces that are the actual Digital Natives, never knowing a time without the internet and smart phones. Have conversations with them about being safe online. It’s not about keeping them away from digital technologies but educating them on the right choices to make — Conversations to avoid, Age limits, Accessing Support etc. Open them up to its possibilities and how to maximize it with positive content and expressions to reap its benefits.

What to do now: Make a resolve to be a Digital Role Model to younger ones not by words only but actions as well.

10. Your responsibility towards Fake News

Take responsibility for news you share online. Don’t repost news content from unverified sources.

This takes different forms. Many times, mischievous websites and social media blogs get a photo from a past, unrelated event and mix it up with fiction to post as news. Understand that you can do a photo search via Google by uploading a photo you’re not sure of as recent. If posted previously, results will show old posts containing that same photo.

It could also take the form of accusatory posts and unfounded allegations towards personalities by faceless blogs. When not sure, do not engage.

What to do now: Take a minute to access how you have shared information in the past one week. Can it be better?

Together, for a better internet.

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Sharing my knowledge while working with Entrepreneurs, Startups and Businesses on Social Media, Marketing and Product Development| Check ezinneuzoije.disha.page

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Ezinne Uzoije

Ezinne Uzoije

Sharing my knowledge while working with Entrepreneurs, Startups and Businesses on Social Media, Marketing and Product Development| Check ezinneuzoije.disha.page

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