5 things young people can do to protect themselves online

most of us spending even more time each day online – protecting yourself online
has become as important as it is offline. 
But when it comes to safety we still take risks and a lot of the time don’t
take it seriously enough. 

example, a recent report by DCU (Dublin City University) on the Yubo app has indicated
that 15 year olds are the age group most unconcerned about privacy and most
likely to share their private details in lieu of gaining followers.  Within our work speaking to young people, (some
50,000 students each year) we regularly hear reports when things go wrong. 

So here are 5 things young people can do to protect themselves online

In the online world just like the offline world not everybody is who they say they are.  To put this in context, according to Facebook’s Community Standards Enforcement Report (May 2018) ‘In 2018, we disabled 800 million fake accounts, up from 583 million in 2018’. 

Think Critically

accounts or fake profiles have become part of everyday life across all social
media platforms. It’s important to THINK before accepting requests.  In many cases, offenders use social media
platforms and apps to attempt to get you to send sexual photos or videos. These
individuals’ will use various techniques trying to be your friend and make you
feel special. They may also try and lure you into sexualised conversations and/or
performing sexual acts online.

they have your sexual photos or videos they’ll then save them and may demand
more, or ask you for money, threatening to post the images on the internet or share
them with your friends, family or even with your whole school if you don’t do
as they say. They can be very clever and manipulative, making you feel guilty and
ashamed about what has happened to stop you from getting help.

this happens to you –  it is a crime called
online sexual coercion and extortion. Tell a friend or trusted adult and report
it to the police.  T

Think about what you are revealing on Social Media

it comes to social media platforms how much sharing is too much?  Have you ever asked yourself that question? Is
what you are sharing on social media putting your privacy at risk?   When you’re signing up for a new social
media account or an app think carefully about the information which the
platform or app is asking you for.  Once
you have your account set up think about the information you’re sharing
publically – even if you have your privacy settings enabled.

Remember privacy settings only go so far.  Think Critically as to what information you feel comfortable with sharing. It does no harm to regularly check and tweak your privacy settings as they will regularly change.

Don’t re-use Passwords

‘Almost 100 passwords are stolen every second, which works out to over 8 million stolen per day’ according to Inc.com.  According to Cybersecurity Ventures Thycotic report, ‘The World Will Need to Protect 300 Billion Passwords by 2020’.  What’s even more interesting is that according to research, Cyclonis found that ‘83% of users surveyed use the same password for multiple sites’.  You know who you are.

I know what you’re going to say ‘But Wayne –  I use tons of different sites. How can I
possibly remember each and every password? 
Should I write them down in a note book? No! Should I create an excel
document and save them? Definitely not!!

Well, I mean you could – but both of those suggestions don’t seem very secure.  Here’s a simple solution. Use a Password Manager – I use one to manage all of my mine.  Whenever I need a password for a website, social media platform or app I generate a unique password for each one which is safely stored within my password manager vault. This process has helped me get into the habit of not reusing passwords or having to worry about remembering all of the passwords I need on a regular basis. 

Set up 2 Step verification

one is so simple – yet over 90% of young people I speak to in Schools and
Colleges have either never heard of it or don’t have it enabled.  Most, if not all of the social media accounts
you use and many of your favourite apps all have 2 step verification or 2
factor authentication.  (I delivered a
recent talk ‘UP YOUR GAME ONLINE’ for student rugby teams for Tommy Boe and
Louis Ludik for Rugby Rising in a college in a Dublin.  Tommy was the only one in the audience with 2
Step Verification!). Be like Tommy J. 

the rise in cybercrime 2 factor authentication is essential across all of your
online accounts.  Just as important as not
reusing passwords it’s important to get into the habit of enabling 2 step authentication
whenever you sign up for an account.  In
simple terms it adds a second layer of security to your account. In a lot of
cases all someone would need to gain access to your account would be your
username and password. 

With 2 factor authentication enabled they would require another piece of information in order to gain access to your account, this could be a 6-digit confirmation code send via SMS to your device.

Think about your Online Reputation both now and in the future

face it. If you’re on Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook,
Reddit etc, among others then you have an online reputation you need to manage
and protect.

about what might appear if a future employer was to carry out a search on
Google. Or perhaps Google images. What would they find? Would it be a true and
best reflection of who you are?

engines such as Google can expose a lot of content you’ve posted in the past – perhaps
when you were younger and a lot less mature than you are now.   So keep it as clean as you can.

You have a digital footprint. Not thinking about what you are posting and sharing online could jeopardise a future career or job opportunity.  A 2017 CareerBuilder study found that approximately 70% of employers use social media as a screening method.  I’d say that’s up to around 100% now. It’ud be silly for them not to.

the plus side, this also provides an opportunity to build a reputation online
which influences future hiring managers and companies. Posting regular content
on subjects you’re passionate about or showcasing skills you’ve developed are
all great ways to actively build an online reputation. One you’ll be happy for
a future employer to take an interest in.

you’ve not already set one up, create and populate a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn
is a professional network and more often than not is normally the first thing
which shows up in Google when someone searches your name.  So keep it updated with relevant information
such as;

  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Internships
  • Qualifications
  • Volunteer

Online Reputation is currency.  It could
make or break your future career hopes and life opportunities. 

Look after it, take it seriously and give yourself the best chance.  It’s a competitive world of work out there. If you want to know more ways to protect and manage your Online Reputation & how to use Social Media to get ahead in your Career pick up a copy of my book. Click Here

care online


>> Read the full article at waynedenner.com

Wayne Denner is a speaker, author and expert on Online Reputation and Wellbeing. Wayne helps young people protect and improve their digital presence. Visit waynedenner.com for more information.

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