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 provide our tips to avoid falling victim whilst surfing the web.

What is ‘Safer Internet Day’?

Safer Internet Day is commemorated with the goal of providing a safer and better internet, 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.

This can come in many forms:

  • Online scams
  • Cyberbullying
  • Cyber abuse
  • Sharing illegal/restricted online content

To learn more about internet dangers and how to keep yourself safe, keep reading.

Online Scams

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 scamDescription of scam
PhishingAn 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 scamsThese 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 scamsScammers 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/GiveawayA 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' scamsThese 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 SoftwareA 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 scamsThese 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 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 mental health condition)
  • being harassed by receiving obscene and threatening communications on regular basis

If you’re being bullied or abuse 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 solely personal information to strangers one-on-one, so why would you give it out to millions of people online? Whilst it’s fun to share photos and opinions online, make sure that you don’t needlessly make everything about yourself public for anyone to find.

Make sure your privacy settings are turned on and that you’re browsing safely.

Your browsing and social media habits can teach both of you a lot. However, you have control over your data. Privacy-enhancing features are also available on major websites like Facebook. Companies desire your personal information for its marketing worth, thus these settings are sometimes (deliberately) difficult to uncover. Make sure you have these privacy measures enabled and that you keep them enabled.

Verify the security of your internet connection. Make use of a VPN connection that is secure.

When you go online in a public setting, such as using a public Wi-Fi connection, you have no direct control over its security. Corporate cybersecurity specialists are concerned about “endpoints,” which are the points at which a private network connects to the outside world. Your local Internet connection is a susceptible endpoint. Check the security of your device, and if in doubt, wait until you can use a secure network before entering sensitive information such as your bank account number.

Use a secure VPN connection to increase the security of your Internet browsing. VPN allows you to establish a secure connection between your device and an Internet 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; any comment or image you post online will remain there indefinitely because removing the original does not erase any copies produced by others. 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. Don’t post anything on the internet that you wouldn’t want your mother or a potential employer to see.