Internet crimes are rapidly on the rise with an increase of about 20 percent more reported cases last year.
An online news source states, “Internet crime is evolving in ways we couldn’t have imagined just five years ago.”
It is estimated that approximately 2.5 million Canadians and 12 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year.
Consumer Reports states, “Your chances of becoming a victim of cybercrime are about 1 in 4.”
The internet is like a door that swings both ways allowing information of all kinds in and out. It allows us to send and receive information that keeps us in touch with family and friends. It also allows us to form new relationships with people, to search for information on a topic, purchase an item online, and share ideas.
It is also because of this in and out flow of information that there are many dangers to be encountered around the hidden corners of cyberspace. This is why it is becoming more and more important to make yourself aware of the risks of being online and how to keep yourself, as well as those you love, safe from danger.
Five years ago, while I was pastoring in Kelowna, BC, I had the privilege of teaching computers to the Grade Six and Seven class at Okanagan Adventist Academy. Since most students routinely use the internet for research, online games, or social media, I decided to ask the class to type ten internet safety tips they felt were the most important when online.
I want to share with you a brief summary of what they came up with. These are general online security tips and safe practices that if followed should help minimize your online risks.
Know who you’re dealing with
It is extremely important to know who and what you’re dealing with when online because there are many cybercriminals taking advantage of the Internet and the people who use it.
Be aware of fraudulent “phishers” in email or social networking sites where attempts are made to collect your personal information. The email may request account details for “urgent security reasons.” The message may also point to a “spoofed” website that resembles a real site.
The RCMP website states, “Technology, mainly the Internet, facilitates more elaborate schemes, such as skimming, phishing, and hacking as criminals gather profiles of potential victims. Computer spywares and viruses, designed to help thieves acquire personal information, are an emerging trend.”
Protect your identity
Use a different secure password for each online account you access that are long and complex including numbers and symbols. Never use single words or anything personally connected to you such as your dog’s name or your birthday.
Always remember, never share your passwords with anyone and pay close attention to keeping them secure from lurking eyes at school or work.
Ryan Purita a security consultant says, “Computers have passwords, and passwords are the keys to the kingdom. With this access they (intruders) could do anything you could and if motivated, even more.”
Secure your computer against attack
Just like the locks on your home provide protection from potential danger on the outside, anti-virus and anti-spyware software protect your computer from potential danger while online. It is also important to use a firewall that helps to hide your computer from attacks.
If you have children who use the internet, you might want to consider using age-appropriate filtering and monitoring software.
Be aware of what you share
You would never go to the busiest street in Toronto wearing a t-shirt that had all your personal information written on it. So be cautious about how much personal information you provide online where the whole world can see. When using social networking sites, use the privacy settings and think twice before posting pictures. Once they hit the web, they can never be taken away.
Education is Key
(Learn to look both ways)
Stay informed about current online dangers. Make it a practice to communicate with your children about internet safety. Learn what to do if something goes wrong. Find more information about cybersecurity at