By Katie Stanton
Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA
How safe are you online? If you’ve ever used a computer or a phone to do your banking, pay your taxes, shop or meet potential dates, you’ve put yourself at risk for identity theft, stalking and more. Teens and students who use social networking profiles face online bullying, sometimes to tragic results. Luckily, there are campaigns like Stop.Think.Connect.’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month, helping us all stay safer online as technology becomes more accessible and popular.
The YWCA has partnered with the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign for three years now, conducting sessions and sharing knowledge to help keep our constituents safe online. For this week’s Five on Friday, here are important online safety tips and resources for you to use and share.
1. For the first time, mobile security is a part of Cyber Security Awareness Month. More and more people are using smartphones in their daily lives: 63% of Americans use their cell phones to go online, according to Pew Internet. What happens if your phone is lost or stolen? Use the PIN or lock function on your phone so that, if it is lost, it’s harder to use.
Mobile security trends, concerns and misperceptions, by Net Security
“The survey also uncovered a general sense of unease about the security of financial information on mobile devices if lost or stolen and made it clear that many people aren’t taking the steps necessary to use their mobile devices safely.
For example, nearly 70 percent of Americans believe that storing payment information on their smartphone is unsafe. The survey also found that 63 percent of people do not have a clear idea about what financial information is stored on their smartphones and more than half don’t lock their mobile device with a PIN.”
2. Some people use free public Wi-Fi connections to do their browsing online – if you’ve got a limited data plan, it can seem like a good way to save some money. However, public Wi-Fi networks are just that: public, and therefore not secure. Don’t make important bank transactions, enter your credit card information or do other important tasks until you’re on a secure network at home.
How to Avoid Virtual Theft: Mobile Security and Banking, by Mike Anderson, NerdWallet
“The most obvious thing you can do to ensure your security is to have an emergency lock on your phone and never let it out of your sight. Generally, it’s best to do your transactions in private. Always check your bank account at home and avoid making any transactions on your mobile device when possible.”
3. According to Pew Internet, “87% of United States teens ages 12 to 17 currently use the Internet, representing about 21 million youths. Of those, approximately 11 million teens are online daily.” Teen Research Unlimited reported that “27% of teens said that they have known a friend to have actually meet someone whom they only knew online,” and many youths keep instances of harassment or solicitations from strangers a secret from their parents.
Parents, beware of bullying on sites you’ve never seen, by Kelly Wallace, CNN
“‘Kids don’t want to hear us preach and lecture about all of (technology’s) evils. They will immediately tune out,’ Hinduja said.
The better approach, he said, is to embrace the latest technology and strike up conversations with your kids about it, asking them about stories of bullying and harassment in the news.
‘Constantly having these conversations with kids so that they know their parent is not oblivious to these issues goes such a long way,’ he said.”
4. Meeting people online has been occurring since the internet and social networking began. Even if you think you know all of the secrets to online dating – the warning signs and profiles to avoid, the tell-tale fake photos – it’s easy to become a victim of fraud, stalking or worse.
How to be safe online: A guide for women, by Chrissie Russell, IOL/Independent Newspapers
“Dr Rachel O’Connell, an internet safety expert, says there are a number of warning signs to look out for.
‘Keep in mind that it’s always possible for people to misrepresent themselves and there’s greater scope to do so when communicating online,’ she says.
’Trust your instincts and listen out for any facts that seem inconsistent or ‘off’. If your suspicions are raised, it’s not impolite to end the conversation or if you’re on a date and feel uncomfortable, don’t worry about being rude, leave.’
She adds: ‘Look out for ‘relationship acceleration disorder’. When a person wants to get very close very fast it can be a warning sign particularly if the person ignores your requests to slow down the pace at which you’re getting to know one another. Also watch out for vague answers, tall stories and inconsistent tales.’”
5. There are many things you can do to keep yourself safe online, despite the threats that exist. Visit StaySafeOnline.org for resources to help you protect your family and friends from spam, malware, fraud and harassment.
StaySafeOnline.org, powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance
“Learn how to protect yourself, your family and your devices with these tips and resources.”
If you have a story that needs to be shared, let us know! Leave a link in the comments or send us a Tweet at @YWCAUSA.
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