Cyber Self Defense
Not just for children
By. M.L. Allen
We tell our children all the time about the dangers of Neglectful cyber practices, however we are moving into an age where they instinctively know more about this then we do. Afterall, most have never known a time without the convenience of the “World wide web”. We teach them the basics and turn them loose on the Cyber world only to find that it is not only them that need to be mindful online. We must Continuously educate ourselves as well.
Learning how to not to make yourself vulnerable needs to be explored by everyone who chooses to live with and utilize the advantages of today’s technologies. Not just a subject to be touched on with an overused generic list of no brainers developed in the 90’s. When used as intended and appropriately, wonderful things can be achieved. Like anything else can be tarnished and even ruined by the greed of some. We are faced with three choices. Avoiding it completely and pass up on the opportunities it was intended to offer. Falling victim to the Self-centered gluttony that a few bad apples Create or arm yourself with the tools and knowledge to fight for your right to be a citizen of this Digital world without the fear of Cybercrime.
Everybody (sites and people) on the internet has a goal that they will use you to meet, don’t take it too personally. Most of the time it’s Just business. they want you to view an advertisement, click this or that. Go here and buy this. Read an article to influence your opinion or to make you aware of something (like cybercrime self-defense). Like a post, share it with everyone. Comment on a situation. Break it down to its simplest. What Do they want from you? Unfortunately, some only have a goal of exploiting you by taking advantage of a weakness many shares. A weakness that commonly centers around you not knowing how to protect yourself and being unaware you have done something to allow yourself to become their next target.
Like murder, theft and any physical misconduct, Cyber criminals will always be here. Don’t make yourself an easy target, learn the skills needed to protect yourself with the advantage of knowing how to recognize the traps and scams before its to late.
The following is just a few Cyber Self-defense tips and tricks I have gathered for you and some reasoning behind why it is so important to keep these in mind. These are only intended to get you started by piquing your curiosity and encouraging you to do more self-guided research. If I gave you everything you will never remember it all, however if you put in the effort to arm yourself with the facts and knowledge yourself, it will stick with you for a lifetime.
Behind every rule of thumb, no matter how basic, is a forgotten reason which is essential to its necessity. If you Learn why it is important to take cyber defense measures, you won’t overlook their importance. Challenge yourself to use these as building blocks and continue expanding your ability to recognize and prevent a Cyber Attack.
Don’t open emails from someone you do not know, you never know if their intentions are truly legitimate.
The used car lot down the road may try to convince you to take up their new deal of the week but isn’t going to send you a devastating computer virus. However, the overweight middle-aged IT dropout pretending to be the IRS presenting you with fabricated fraud allegations, offering you a chance to avoid prison if you pay a fee.
Do not give personal information
Would you write your address, credit card number, SSN and bank account number, on a billboard on the bad side of town?
Guess what, by giving this information to the wrong people you’re doing just that. By “wrong people” I mean, Teddy the high school dropout pretending to be your bank emailing you a verification form that is due asap, OR ELSE!!!
Never copy and share posts word for word, Retyping is your safest bet.
It’s a simple thing that saves A LOT of time, but when you copy that post to share it with everyone else, its copy’s everything in the highlighted field. Even the hidden string of programing code the computer is told not to show you.
Don’t believe me? using google chrome, Go to any page of any site . Highlight a few words and press and hold Ctrl+Shift+I. the box that pops up will show you the formatting source code.
A novice programmer can hide anything there, including dangerous programs and commands that can perform hidden tasks limited only by the programmer’s imagination. Don’t have chrome? Use internet explorer right click on ANYTHING and select “inspect element” or “view Source”. “Ta daa!!!” Trust me when I say it is worth taking the time to retype it when you fall for one of these cleverly disguised viruses.
Never share passwords, if you have to give someone your password, do it in person not over the internet.
Sharing your password is a definite no brainer but sometimes it has to be done for good reason. Everyone has heard, and used, the old saying once u put it online it’s there forever. Well unfortunately that is true. Digital forensics is not very easy, but it can be done. Emailing or messaging anything, if given enough time, skill and dedication can be reconstructed even after it had been deleted. With enough skill and the right motive( like a password to something important) no matter how unlikely and challenging it is still a possibility.
Be mindful of site security and authenticity
Anyone can make a website now days. What would Stop someone to make a site that looks like the login page for Facebook? Absolutely nothing is the correct answer to that one. And now you attempted to log in and your stalker now has your password. If that’s not a big deal, what if instead of Social Media it was your online banking website.
The good news is there is a few ways to tell the difference between real and fake sites.
Look for the padlock at the on the left side of the website in the address bar, this indicated you are securely and safely logged in or on to that site.
“http://” Sites (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol or simply how the information or site gets from where its hosted to your computer) can easily be hacked, and information can be intercepted.
Think of an internet address as a railroad connecting two towns. “LaptopVille” to “XXXVille”, nonstop. The train takes passengers, or “information” from one town to the next. Keeping in mind the train goes both ways 1000 times a second. The two computers share a lot of information to make sure the connection is working the way it is supposed to.
A skilled hacker can jump on the train at any point along the track and take any information he wants and jump off. Or he can ride it all the way back to “laptopVille” to see if there is anything, he wants there. There is also nothing stopping a virus from buying 1 class tickets straight to your computer.
What is the solution to this issue? Legitimate sites take extra measures and precautions to prevent this from happening. Using the same analogy, we want to go to “bankville” to do transfer to pay a bill. Bankville cares about its people so they built a subway underground in a protected tunnel where nobody can just jump on and all the passengers are screened.
To make sure you are on the much safer subway Look For “https://” in the address, yes that little “s” makes all the difference when it comes to security. It means the site is securely connected and is authentic. Unfortunately, chrome doesn’t display this anymore, but you can check it out in almost every other browser.
Log out every single time you leave a sensitive site, hackers may still access information as long as you are logged in. Think of it as an open connection until its logged out. This is why bank sited will automatically log you off after a few minutes of inactivity.
Know who your giving money to
Sending money to friends and relatives in a tough situation is OK however sending a money order to cute person you meet online a week ago is not. 99% of the time sending money to someone you don’t know or meet online is a scam.
Do your research on a company or seller before purchasing product over the internet. Customer reviews are one of the best ways to determine if a company, online store or individual seller can be trusted. look for a high rating and read the comments from past buyers
Leave playing with the settings to the computer nerds
*If you don’t know what a program is for leave it alone or ask someone who does. A lot of times even changing a small setting can impact how your computer works or even how it protects you.
Nobody can force you to give them money online
Never act on an urgent request by someone other than a trusted person or company ( i.e. for payment, response or purchase, etc.), scammers want you to hand over money quickly before you think about it too much and realize or even suspect your being scammed.
Always remember the FBI, IRS and any other Government Agencies, even banks, will never email you about important matters. some scammers may try threatening you with the thought of a fine, jail or even prosecution, to intimidate you to do Something like pay them money or give them sensitive information.,
Two eyes are better than one
If it looks suspicious be careful. If you are unsure about the validity of a situation or site, ask someone else if they also feel the same about it(preferably someone who knows about cyber safety)
Hover your curser over a link for a moment to see the site it will you take you to. This is displayed in the lower left corner of the screen. Often times a “Fooled You” tactic is used to get you to click on something that may result in something you did not intend, like download a virus or take you somewhere unsafe and even pull privet information off your computer.
Children and the Internet
Online Safety for Teens
Basic Safety for Adults