Internet Safety

There are many issues to look at when discussing Internet safety.  I want to focus on four that are extremely dangerous.  They are identity theft, child pornography, cyberbullying and cyberstalking.

Identity theft is acquiring another person’s private information for financial gain.  There are three main ways identity theft happens.  Phishing is acquiring personal information by impersonating legitimate sources.  Pharming is redirecting website traffic to a bogus site (From Pfishing to Pfarming).  Computer hacking is unauthorized accessing of another person’s computer.

There are things a person can do to limit thieves ability to steal their identity.  Be suspicious of any strange activity involving your electronic accounts.  Don’t use links from emails; look up websites on a search engine and go to them directly.  Regularly check all accounts for current activities.  Make sure you keep your browsers and your security software updated.  You can go to this site to read more about avoiding internet fraud.

Child Pornography is pornography involving children, real or simulated.  Simulated child pornography is where real children are not used in the photos but, they are altered in some way to give the impression that the person is a child.  Recently, Google and Microsoft have started devising stronger filters to block child pornography but, nothing is foolproof (Google/Microsoft).  If you discover child pornography on a computer, you should immediately call the police regardless of the perpetrator’s relationship to you in order to protect the victims, past, present and future (The Innocent Justice Foundation).  Read more about how to report child pornography here.

Cyberbullying involves using electronic technology to harass and harm others.  It creates feelings of anxiety, depression and anger.  Cyberbullying is more harmful than personal bullying due to size of the audience, how quickly and how much the bully can post vicious material and the longer lasting the effect of the acts.  This leads to withdrawal of the victim from society, poor grades, potential to become bullies and increase chance of harming themselves or others (The dangers of cyberbullying).

If you are a victim of cyberbullying, you need to tell an adult you feel comfortable with confiding information.  Make sure you collect all evidence and report offenses to the appropriate authorities.  Your confidant can help you.  However, NEVER, EVER, engage the bully in likewise fashion (Dos and Don’ts).  It will not deter them; it will only make them ramp up their retaliation and will hinder your credibility as an unwarranted victim.  Learn how you can stop cyberbullying.

Cyberstalking involves using electronic devices to stalk another person or group of people. It seems similar to cyberbullying but, it is generally worse.  Stalker have an obsession and desire to control you.  They also are willing to make collateral victims of your friends and family in their efforts.  A stalker has four objectives:  locate, surveil, emotionally harass and criminally manipulate their prey (Gil).  If you find yourself a victim of a cyberstalker, you should contact the police and warn family and friends to prevent them from being used against you (Gilbert & Meyers).  This can also help them to become witnesses to the offenses.  Read more preventive steps to take and what to do if you are being cyberstalked.

References:

Dos and don’ts for cyberbullying victims. (n.d.). Parental Control. Retrieved from http://puresight.com/Cyberbullying/dos-and-donts-for-cyber-bullying-victims.html

From pfishing to pfarming: the top five spam scams of March 2005. (n.d.). DMA Responsibility. Retrieved from http://www.dmaresponsibility.org/cgi/disppressrelease?article=643++++++

Gil, P. (n.d.). Cyberstalking: what is cyberstalking? How should I deal with cyberstalkers?. About.com Internet for Beginners. Retrieved from http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/c/f/What-Is-Cyberstalking.htm

Gilbert, K., & Meyers, S. (n.d.). Insight Is 20/20. Victim of romantic cyberstalking: signs, what to do, coping. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-is-2020/201308/victim-romantic-cyberstalking-signs-what-do-coping

Google/Microsoft- can you really stop child pornography?. (n.d.). Examiner.com. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/google-microsoft-can-you-really-stop-child-pornography

The Innocent Justice Foundation | Helping Rescue Children From Abuse. (n.d.). Innocent Justice what you can do to stop it comments. Retrieved from http://innocentjustice.org/solutions/report/

The dangers of cyberbullying. (n.d.). Parental Control. Retrieved from http://puresight.com/Cyberbullying/the-dangers-of-cyber-bullying.html