The Internet is a great place to make friends and chat, create websites, learn new things and have endless fun. Alas, the Internet has attracted the attention of a new species of predators that steal other people's personal data for profit. To be safe on the Internet, you must use your network wisely and prudently. Be on the lookout for threats like hackers and cyberbullying, and keep your information safe to minimize risks.
Method 1 of 3: How to keep your personal information safe
Step 1. Do not share your personal information on the Internet
Sharing personal information online is like giving your life to another person. Users of social networks (Facebook, VKontakte) often do not understand that they are indicating too much personal information. There are many reasons why this behavior is dangerous.
- If you need to include your name on your account, it's best to use a nickname or a fictitious name. You can also provide incomplete information. For example, when you need to report your name in the profile, indicate "Roman K" instead of Roman Kiryakov.
- Activate all available privacy settings for the account. Many messaging sites and apps have varying levels of privacy. For example, in addition to the usual publications on a social network, you can provide your name, date of birth and place of study. Hide this information from all users except your closest friends. Explore the available account settings to keep your personal information private.
- Do not provide other unique personal information such as address, date of birth, TIN, passport number and other information. This is the most valuable information about a person, with the help of which it is easy to steal your identity.
- Don't use your picture as your social media profile picture. Instead, upload a picture of your choice. For example, if you love grapes, use a picture of grapes on your social media and messaging program. If your real photo falls into the hands of intruders, they can establish your current location and harm you.
- Minors should always ask their parents what information they can provide.
- Do not give users a lot of information, as the profile of this user can be hacked and it is easy to get important information in correspondence with you.
Step 2. Don't share your location
NEVER share your location with people on the internet you don't know personally. You do not need to indicate your real address or even the city of residence. Your place of study should also remain a secret in communication and publications on social networks. With data about your place of residence, the Internet predator can pretend to be your acquaintance. For example, if you indicate your city of residence and age on the Internet, then any person can impersonate your friend or neighbor and in a conversation find out other important personal information from you.
Be careful with photographs of your place of residence. A photograph on your front porch may contain a partial or complete address that makes it easy to find you. Be careful and consider all photos before posting on the Internet
Step 3. Do not provide personal contact information
This applies not only to your phone number and email address, but also to your social media and messaging app profiles. If such information becomes publicly available, there is a risk of receiving threatening and insulting messages or drawing unwanted attention. Your accounts must be known and viewable only by your friends.
If you have a website, then hide your domain name registration data. If you hide this information, then when searching for domain owners, the user will only see the contact details of the company that provided you with the domain
Step 4. Think twice before publishing incriminating information
The most obvious example is nude photos or videos. Posting images, text, or videos that encourage or inform others about drug use, racism and violence can also lead to trouble. Even if you send such material in secret only to your partner or friend, it is not known what a person can do with such information. For example, if you break up or quarrel, then in retaliation, the person may post such images anonymously on the Internet.
- Even if your profile is closed, other people can publish your content on public pages, where the information will be available to everyone.
- Once the data has entered the Internet, it is virtually impossible to delete it. Be smart and don't post material that you wouldn't show your mom (or your boss at work).
- If a friend publishes on his profile, blog or website materials with you that you want to remove from the Internet, then politely ask about it. If not, contact the person's parent or guardian, or get the support of a third party and discuss the situation.
- Be proactive to prevent compromising material from being posted online. If a person takes a potentially compromising photo, immediately say, "Please don't post this online."
- Minors should obtain parental permission for any online publication.
Step 5. Beware of strangers who want to meet
If a stranger invites you to meet on a dating site or in any other service, then it is better to refuse the meeting if you do not feel safe. Do not be persuaded and do not give your address or other personal information. Remember that thanks to anonymity on the Internet, anyone can impersonate anyone.
- If you do decide to meet, choose a crowded place like a restaurant or mall to keep yourself safe.
- If you are under the age of majority and want to meet with a friend from the Internet, you should inform your parents about the time and place of the meeting in advance.
Method 2 of 3: How to handle cyberbullying
Step 1. Do not listen to the lies that are told to you
Internet hooligans often claim that many people share their opinion. They may say that the other person secretly gave them information about you, your actions or beliefs. So they usually try to prove that something is wrong with you. Situations like this often happen in long-term communities like chat rooms and forums.
For example, after several weeks of abuse, the stalker might write you a private message like, “Several users wrote to me about what you said. They agree that you are brainless and scary. "
Step 2. Remain calm
Don't let such messages hurt you. Remember that the stalker is trying to piss you off. If you get offended or angry, the stalker will get what he wants. Try to see the situation from the outside and understand that in fact the persecutor is a miserable and dissatisfied person who projects his weaknesses and shortcomings onto other people.
- You should understand that cyberbullying people, like any bully, are cowards who use anonymity to hide their identity. This will help you assess such words and insults soberly. No one would take seriously a coward's unfounded claims.
- Don't look for the reason in yourself. For example, you don't need to think that the stalker might be right when he criticizes your clothes or photograph. No one deserves to be insulted on the internet or in real life for the clothes they wear (or for any other reason).
- Take time for hobbies and interests to take your mind off the net. Take a break from the Internet and play sports, play a musical instrument, or write your thoughts in a journal. You can also run or ride a bike to relieve the stress of online harassment.
Step 3. Don't answer or communicate with the persecutors
All online stalkers crave the sense of control that comes with ridicule and attack on other people. If you receive such a message or you read the insults on the forum, then you do not need to respond in an attempt to refute the baseless accusations. You also do not need to try to offend the persecutor with reciprocal insults and ridicule. So you will only descend to the level of such people.
If possible, block the user on the forum or chat. After that, he will not be able to write you messages, and you will not see his publications
Step 4. Contact the administrator to issue a warning or block the user
Don't delete messages. Better to create a subfolder called "Insults" and move all the offensive messages there. Later, they will become your evidence when you need to take action. Such information will confirm that you have become a victim of online bullying.
- Report every post, threat or insult to the forum administrator.
- If the bully is emailing you, you can contact his ISP to block the account. So, if you receive letters from the user [email protected], then contact the Sumtel provider with a request to block this mailing address.
- You can find the contact details of Internet providers and e-mail services online.
Method 3 of 3: How to protect yourself from hackers
Step 1. Turn on the firewall
A firewall is one option for protecting your passwords and information on your computer. It is like a door lock. Turning off your firewall opens the door for hackers to steal or delete your information, find out your passwords, and do other damage. Hence, there is no need to turn off the firewall.
Only allow authorized programs such as licensed games or video streaming services to access the firewall
Step 2. Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) acts as an intermediary between the network and your computer. It provides an additional layer of encryption for Internet interactions. The server of such a network may be located in another city or even a country, which means that it will be almost impossible to find and track your data.
For maximum privacy on the Internet, use a VPN and your browser in incognito mode. This mode prevents data, cookies, downloads and other information from being stored on your computer
Step 3. Don't use public wireless networks
Wi-Fi hotspots may seem like a convenient solution when you need to surf the Internet outside your home to find the information you need, but be careful. You should not spend a lot of time in such networks after registration.
- Read the names of the social networks carefully. If you connect to a network with an erroneous or similar to a popular name that is used to deliberately deceive ordinary users, there is a risk that your online communications, including passwords, emails, or banking information, could be exposed to a hacker.
- Use encryption for your home Wi-Fi network. Open networks are easy prey for hackers and provide access to your computer.
- Buy a new router every few years. Some routers have permanent firmware vulnerabilities that stop updating.
Step 4. Use complex passwords for online accounts
If a hacker breaks your password for social media pages, online banking or email account, then you will be helpless against data theft. Use long passwords (more than eight characters) with upper and lower case letters, numbers, and (if possible) other characters such as underscores or characters.
- Come up with unique passwords for each account and write it down in a notepad, which should be kept in one place. Over time, you will memorize the most important and frequently used passwords by heart, and the rest can always be viewed in a notebook.
- Password protect your devices, including your computer, smartphone and tablet.
- Don't use obvious passwords like your loved one's first name, date of birth, or your last name.
Step 5. Use two-factor authentication
Many services have started to use two layers of protection called two-factor authentication. For example, Google offers users of its Gmail mail service to receive a text message with an arbitrary key to enter the system after entering a password on unknown devices. This way, if someone tries to access your password, it will only be reported on devices that you specify as secure.
Step 6. Update the software
If your operating system or internet browser does not receive the latest security patches, your devices remain vulnerable to hackers. Turn on automatic updates for your operating system and programs to keep things safe.
Most programs will offer to activate automatic updating after the initial installation. Check the box to not search for such a function later
Step 7. Be careful with downloads
Hackers and other attackers often use bulk mail to unsuspecting users with worms (data-gathering malware), viruses, and other malware. If you download such attachments to emails without scanning an antivirus program, the device's security will be at risk. Do not download attachments to letters and messages or files from links from sources you do not trust.
Step 8. Use an anti-virus program
Antivirus protects your computer from potentially dangerous programs and files. Reliable antivirus programs include Kaspersky, McAfee, and Bitdefender. Some programs have free versions with limited functionality.
Keep your antivirus program up to date with your other programs and operating system. The difference between free and paid antivirus is often the lack of updates for the free versions
Step 9. Turn off your computer when not in use
Many people leave the computer on all the time. The longer the machine runs, the higher the risk of being targeted by an attacker. If a machine is not receiving or transmitting network data, then it is inaccessible to hackers, spyware, or botnets.
- If you do not know what to do with the user who is stalking you, you can simply ignore or block them at first.
- Have you subscribed to the newsletter on the Internet? Enter the site name in one of the name fields. If you start getting spam, you will always see which site sold your data.