Online Safety Tips For Young People
Protect your email address. Use a free email service, such as gmail or hotmail, and don't use your name or any other identifiable information to create your email address. If you receive a lot of spam or unwanted emails, you can just delete the account and create a new one.
Never give out any personally identifiable details online. (such as your full name, email, home address, school name or phone number). Online friends should always be treated as strangers unless you know them in real life. If you give out your personal information to people you have only met online you can never be sure where it will end up, what it will be used for, or who may contact you.
Never arrange to meet online friends in person. If you feel that you ‘have to’ meet, then for your own safety you must tell your parent or guardian and take them with you. It can be difficult to remember that someone is a stranger if you have been chatting to them for ages, and they feel like a good friend. It is important to remember that people may have other motives for arranging to meet you, and both young people and adults can be fooled into meeting someone who they might not wish to meet.
Always tell a trusted adult if you are worried or uncomfortable about someone or something online. It can feel really upsetting to get sent something nasty by email or IM, and it can be through no fault of your own. Don’t ever feel that you can’t tell someone because you feel ashamed or embarrassed. If someone online encourages you to keep something secret from your parents, you should be very wary of them. Online predators rely on people not telling anyone, and they can be very convincing in their reasoning. This is all the more reason for you not to fall into that trap.
Are you willing to let your parents read your profile. Don't post anything in public that you don't want your parents, principal, boss, university president or boyfriend or girlfriend to see. These posts tend to last longer than any of us thought they could. They are passed around and discoverable by search engines. You are never truly private when online.
Protect your computer. Make sure you have a good firewall and an automatically updated anti-virus program installed on your computer. While you're at it, get a good spyware or adware blocker too. And be careful about downloading or opening files sent to you, even from people you know. Many viruses masquerade as someone you know. And hacking tools and programs (such as Trojan horses) can give someone a backdoor to your computer, all your passwords and banking information.
Think before you click. Before posting something online, check and make sure it says what you wanted it to say, can't be misconstrued and is being posted at the right place or sent to the right person. Think about the person on the other side. Many cyberwars start with a careless message.
Don't be a victim of a "phishing" scheme. Phishing is when an ID thief sends millions of emails or IMs pretending to be your bank, or online service, like Paypal. They look real and try to scare you into reacting without thinking. They claim that someone has broken into your account, or that changes were made to your account. They ask you to login using the link in the email. The link takes you to their site, but you think you're at your bank's site. You type in your login and password. A page pops up telling you that your account is secure and thanking you. Your real account is accessed and emptied within minutes.
Always report cybercrime. Don't try and handle it yourself. If it involves dangerous or criminal activity, or someone you suspect is a predator or criminal, tell a trusted adult, the website involved, and report it to your local law enforcement office. Save any communication. The police need the original communication to check out the headers and other information necessary to trace the communication.