I never thought the internet to be knotty. That all I needed was my device of choice, an internet service provider and voila! Get my connection, click, click, click, open up a page, browse through it, close tab, open another, like an update, favorite a tweet, laugh at some memes and move on to the next tab.
Nothing is ever that easy.
I’ve got news for you – every time you log in, you are exposing yourself to a multitude of risks. I will tell you about the risks later and what I have marshaled about staying safe online. First, lets get studious:
The switch from the known to the unknown – What is the internet?
“The internet is a network of autonomous networks of computing devices, which share the same core protocols enabling them to interoperate regardless of the endpoint applications and devices.” What the…
Such was day one of the African Internet School on Internet Governance (AfriSIG) – a literal dive into the deep end of acronyms and more acronyms that went from SMTP, HTTPS, FTP, DNS, TCP, UDP, ICANN and no, none of them stands for a political party!
Anyway, I choose not to rummage through that too much because after two days, I knew what they all meant…and a lot more. Ahem. That’s what happens here – baptism of fire! And no, I am not a techie but if I must engage with the techies, I must know what they’re talking about.
So, being at the AfriSIG made me take a step back and really analyse how I consume the internet. Of course, this school was on internet governance but then how do you go into the big house of governance when your personal house is on fire? So I chose, by means of this article, to ‘govern’ my own internet space. How do I do that? By staying safe online.
Here are five very basic tips that will keep you safe online:
1. Think before you click
That small agree button could mean you are agreeing to anything! Read those terms and conditions just to be sure of what you are getting yourself into.
2. Secure your accounts
The simplest way is to make your passwords long and strong and with multiple characters! Do not use the same password for every account. That’s like having one security lock to all rooms in your house.
3. Social networks
Ha! These are cool and most of us are quick to post personal details and media online but the catch is, once posted, always posted. Can you live with what you posted ten years from now? Set your security and privacy settings. Better safe than sorry and please don’t go on an ‘add friends’ spree. Ask yourself, how well do you know them? Think before you click add and if in doubt, unfriend, block, it is your space. Take control of it.
4. Shop online with caution
You have your hard earned dollars; protect it especially when shopping online. Check that the site is secure. Sites with https:// or shttp:// means the site is keen on security whereas sites with Http:// are not secure. Watch out. Thank me later. Well, I won’t sweat it if you don’t.
5. Security. Security. Security
Finally, the hackers work day and night, night and day to create new online threats. Come on, update your anti-virus, have the latest web browser. It is a never-ending war.
Picture by Olga Tsafack