The internet is an amazing tool that has become integral in today’s society. Whilst the internet has countless positives, it is also used to facilitate the desires of nefarious individuals and groups.
For Safer Internet Day, we thought the best way to celebrate would be to go over some of these dangers and share our tips to avoid falling victim whilst surfing the web.
What is Safer Internet Day?
Safer Internet Day was created with the goal of providing an internet environment where every user can use the internet responsibly and without having their data exposed.
Every year, Safer Internet Day attempts to promote awareness of growing online challenges and present concerns, ranging from cyberbullying to social networking to digital identification.
For more information on Safer Internet Day and eSafety, visit esafety.gov.au.
The internet isn’t safe?!
While the internet as a whole isn’t dangerous and can safely be navigated most of the time, there are people who use the internet as a tool to manipulate and harm others via:
- Online scams
- Cyber abuse
- Sharing illegal/restricted online content
Emails, phone calls, text messages, even social media messages; online scams are as prevalent as they have ever been, with scammers coming up with new tactics as technology advances. Below is a list of types of online scams:
|Name of scam||Description of scam|
|Phishing||An online scam that targets customers by sending them an e-mail that looks to come from a trusted source, such as an internet service provider, bank, or mortgage firm.
It requests personal identifying information from the customer, which is then used by a scammer to open new accounts or infiltrate the consumer's existing accounts.
|Cryptocurrency scams||These fall into two different categories:
- Initiatives aimed at gaining access to a target's digital wallet or login credentials. Scammers are attempting to obtain information that will allow them to gain access to a digital wallet or other confidential information such as security codes. This can even include access to real hardware in some circumstances.
- Directly sending cryptocurrency to a scammer as a result of impersonation, false investment or business possibilities, or other malevolent tactics.
|Dating & Romance scams||Scammers construct phoney online identities and may use a fictitious name or the identity of a real, trustworthy person such as military members, relief workers, or international professionals.
In a strategy known as 'love bombing,' dating and romance scammers exhibit deep feelings for their victims. They contact the victim numerous times a day, expressing their thoughts and encouraging the victim to do the same. This increases the likelihood of someone falling for an investment con.
Once the friendship has developed, they will ask the victim for money, gifts, or banking/credit card information. They may also request that the victim share images or videos, which may be of a personal nature.
|Fake Lottery/Giveaway||A type of advance-fee fraud that starts with an unexpected email, SMS or phone call informing you that "You have won!" a significant quantity of money or expensive item in a lottery. The recipient is instructed to keep the notice confidential and to contact a "claims representative."
Following communication with the scammer, the victim will be required to pay "processing fees" or "transfer charges" in order to receive the winnings, but the victim will never receive anything.
The names of actual lottery organisations or other respectable corporations/companies are frequently used in email lottery frauds.
|'Work From Home' scams||These kinds of scams involve deceptive individuals advertising fake jobs in order to profit themselves. Scammers target this sector with supposed lucrative employment opportunities that often seem too good to be true (i.e. low effort & high return, work from home, etc.), posing as as a firm or respectable individual in order to gain your trust.|
|Fake Antivirus Software||A type of malware that claims to have discovered an infection on the victim's computer. In certain circumstances, the sole goal of the cybercriminal is to scare the victim. Many rogue antivirus products, on the other hand, attempt to extort money for the removal of malware that hasn't been discovered and may not even exist.|
|Shopping scams||These scams involve phoney merchant websites that appear to be legitimate internet retailers that utilise complex designs and layouts, stolen logos, a '.com.au' domain name, and even a stolen Australian Business Number.
Many of these websites sell high-end items such as designer clothing, jewellery, and electronics at extremely low prices. You may receive the item you paid for, but it will be counterfeit, or you may receive nothing at all.
The use of social media networks to put up fraudulent online storefronts is a newer variant of online shopping scams. They only keep the store open for a short period, selling counterfeit apparel and jewellery.
Whilst there are many online scams that are obvious for most, as technology advances scammers are getting better and better at fooling more and more people. This means it is even more important to stay vigilant and keep up-to-date on tactics used by scammers.
For more information about online scams, click here.
Cyberbullying & Cyber Abuse
Cyberbullying can take many forms, ranging from humiliating or cruel online posts or digital images to online threats, harassment, and negative comments, as well as stalking via emails, websites, social media platforms, and text messages.
Anyone can be a target of cyberbullying and cyber abuse regardless of their technological expertise, but teenagers and young adults are common victims due to their vast use of social media.
There are many types of cyber abuse:
finding their personal contact details have been made public on a social media service or other online platform in order to scare, harass, or attack them because of their physical appearance, religion, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, or political beliefs
being harassed and threatened with violence because of their physical appearance, religion, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, or political beliefs
being threatened with serious harm and urged to join in by others online – being stalked and threatened online, especially in the context of domestic and familial violence
being encouraged to hurt themselves, especially in circumstances where they are recognised to be at significant danger (for example, because they have a mental health condition)
being harassed by receiving obscene and threatening communications on a regular basis
If you’re being bullied or abused online, get in touch with the authorities and organisations who can help.
Illegal & Restricted Online Content
Illegal online content includes everything from the most significantly destructive material, such as films depicting child sexual abuse or acts of terrorism, to stuff that is improper for children, such as simulated sexual activity, nudity, or high-impact violence.
When it comes to categorising information, context is crucial. The material’s nature and aim must be considered, as well as its literary, aesthetic, or educational value, as well as whether it has a medicinal, legal, social, or scientific function. This means that it is unlikely for sexual health education content, sexuality and gender information, or health and safety information on drug use and sex to be considered illegal or restricted content.
For more information about illegal and restricted online content, click here.
Fluccs’ tips for staying safe online
Make sure a limited level of personal information is available
You wouldn’t give out personal information to strangers in real life, so why would you give it out to millions of strangers online? Whilst it’s fun to share photos and opinions, make sure that you don’t needlessly make everything about your life public for anyone to find.
Make sure your privacy settings are turned on and that you’re browsing safely.
Privacy-enhancing features are available on most social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. However, because these companies want to gather as much data on their users as possible for monetary gain, these settings are often difficult to find and require digging through pages of settings in an attempt to discourage users from protecting their data on their platforms.
Make sure you have these privacy measures enabled and that you keep them enabled. There are many guides and how-tos that give step-by-step instructions on how to find these settings, and it is well worth the extra 5-10 minutes taken to keep your data protected.
Verify the security of your internet connection. Make use of a VPN connection that is secure.
When you go online using a public Wi-Fi connection, you have no direct control over its security. Because of how many people connect to and use public Wi-Fi connections to use internet, it is a common hunting ground for bad actors to gain access to you and your data, such as personal identifying information, banking information, and more!
Using a VPN when connecting to public or unfamiliar networks will increase the security of your internet browsing by allowing you to establish a secure connection between your device and a remote server so that no one can watch or access the data you’re exchanging.
For more information on VPNs, click here.
Choose Strong Passwords
Passwords are one of the most vulnerable points in the Internet’s security architecture, but there is currently no way around them. And the issue with passwords is that individuals tend to use easy-to-remember ones (such as “password” and “123456”) that are equally easy for cyber thieves to guess.
Choose strong passwords that are difficult for attackers to decipher. Password management software can help you manage many passwords and keep track of them so you don’t forget them. A strong password is one that is one-of-a-kind and complicated, with at least 15 characters that blend letters, numbers, and special characters.
Be Careful What You Download
Cybercriminals’ primary goal is to lure you into downloading malware—programs or apps that contain viruses or attempt to steal information. This malware can be camouflaged as an app, which could be anything from a famous game to a traffic or weather app. Don’t download apps that appear dubious or don’t come from a verified source.
Use Secure Websites to Make Online Purchases
When you make an online purchase, you must supply credit card or bank account information, which fraudsters are keen to obtain. Provide this information only to sites that offer secure, encrypted connections. According to Boston University, secure sites can be identified by looking for an address that begins with https: (the S stands for secure) rather than simply http: A padlock icon next to the address bar may also indicate them.
Be Wary of Who You Meet Online
People you meet on the internet are not always who they say they are. Indeed, they might not even exist. False social media profiles are a popular tool for hackers to get close to unsuspecting Web users and pick their virtual pockets. Be as cautious and prudent in your online social life as you are in your offline social life.
Be Wary of What You Post
Unfortunately, there is no erase button on the Internet; you can’t “take back” a statement you wish you hadn’t said, and you can’t get rid of that awkward selfie you snapped at a party. This is why you should take great care and don’t post anything on that you wouldn’t want your mother or a potential employer to see.