Protecting yourself against the web

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Cassandra Alexopoulos


– Question: When you’re shopping online for the perfect Father’s Day gift, is your credit card information safe? When you’re accepting a friend invitation on Facebook from a person you’ve never heard of, are your personal data and pictures secure?

– Answer: Not necessarily. In fact, all it takes is one weak link for your information to be used or made public.


Cyber security battles against a spectrum of issues, both minor and severe, that we should all be aware of. Cyber security is breached when we become victims of something life-changing like identity theft. Or, we can be annoyed and inconvenienced by receiving spam mail every 15 minutes, even humiliated if an embarrassing video or photo has leaked.

“This is dangerous because the Internet is becoming less and less anonymous, meaning we are becoming accountable for what we say and post,” says Ashley Huffman, online communications manager at Kiwi Commons, creators of videos and editorials to build a line of communication between youths and adults when discussing Internet safety.

Bad publicity

The sad truth is that we are so comfortable with posting personal information for social and entertainment purposes, we remain unaware of the fundamentals of the Internet-that once it’s out there, it’s out there for good.

Be careful of the nature of photos you post on your social networking sites. Risky and embarrassing photos include those that contain alcohol or a person who is clearly under the influence of alcohol, provocative poses, and even TIP 3

wardrobe malfunctions!

Buyer beware

Online shopping has become a widespread activity with many obvious benefits: lower prices, more variety, and, best of all, convenience. However, if you’ve found that iPad for half the retail price on an unknown website, your information and money are both at risk. Chances are if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Don’t be afraid to take a few minutes and read reviews that users have posted on online shopping sites. These will usually help you determine the legitimacy of the site.

This isn’t to say that online shopping, along with creating a Facebook account or sending pictures to your friends via e-mail, can’t ever be safe. The main thing to remember is: trusted friends only. Shop with famous and reputable websites, accept friend invitations from people you recognize, and open e-mails from e-mail hosting services you are familiar with.

Continue to enjoy the Internet for all that it has to offer, but don’t ignore those red flags.

– – –


– Court orders to remove embarrassing photos from the Internet do not mean that the photos won;t still be circulating the web remaining accessible to all, including your family members and current or future employers.

– Identity theft can occur by obtaining information as simple as your full name and location. Your information could be used for obtaining passports, accessing the funds in your bank account, and applying for new credit cards.

– Someone has their identity stolen every four seconds in the United States and affects thousands every year in Canada.

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