Cybersecurity: What Does it Mean for you, Your Safety, and Your Reputation?
guest post by Heather McCalley
Your safety on the Internet is your responsibility
Yes, even though you’re not technically an adult, today’s teens have the privilege of using some very powerful technology. The Internet, A.K.A. the Web, has incredible reach that you may take for granted. And to the extent that the Internet is normal and always “on” for you, your parents may not fully understand the tools that are at your fingertips. That is why it falls to YOU to learn about how to protect yourself and even to help educate those in your family about the protection of your privacy. Right now it may seem that you have nothing to hide, but circumstances beyond your control may later force an understanding of why you do not want to post all of your activities and your personal secrets out on the Internet. Below are a few reasons why you should think carefully about how you use digital technology.
Number 1. The Internet doesn’t forget
When you were 12, you may have posted some things in chat rooms or forums or on social media, but as you get older, when those things are brought to your attention, you may not realize that those silly words and photos are still residing on a web server somewhere. And even if you delete them from their original location, search engines and other archiving services will likely still have a copy. Try to think about not putting things on the Internet that you wouldn’t want to discuss with your grandmother.
Number 2. Others using the Internet may not have the same values as you and your family
Unfortunately, this usually comes to light only after someone has been hurt. After a disagreement with a friend, you may find that they have done hurtful things or said inappropriate things about you but seem to have no remorse. It is just way too easy for this to happen when our comments are posted and delivered at the speed of light. We cannot assume that people we encounter online will act in the manner that you would expect if you were interacting with them in person.
Number 3. Fraudsters are out to make a quick buck
Every time you log into a website, social media account, or other internet service, there is a reasonable assumption that you are entering a protected space. However, what cybercriminals and internet fraudsters around the world have taught us is that these services are easily breached, The criminals are breaking into websites and services and using information about us to trick us and to take advantage of us. You must be on guard at all times and educate yourself about using these services. Set your privacy settings as high as you can and be very limited about the types and amount of information you share about yourself in the digital realm.
Number 4. Your privacy includes what you do
One of the the most valuable pieces of information that companies collect about you is which websites you visit. This information is used to help predict which advertisements would be most appealing to you; however, it can also be used for nefarious purposes. Look into using web browsers and special plugins that conceal your browsing habits.
Do these things today:
1. Change your passwords so that you are not using the same password on any two sites. Store them in a free password manager app such as LastPass, OnePassword, or Dashlane.
2. Enable two-factor authentication on your email—so that you have to enter a code or respond with an authentication app on your smartphone in order to read your email on another device.
3. Review the privacy settings on all of your social media accounts. Don’t friend just anyone, and don’t let just anyone contact you in a messaging app or tag you in a photo.
4. Think about the portrait of yourself that is on the Internet and that will be available to future colleges or employers.
5. Put a long, strong password on your phone.
6. Always log out of sites that you use on public computers, including school and library machines.