Digital Literacy: Computer Skills, Netiquette & Internet Safety

Internet safety refers to personal, corporate and national security in online environments, which can be compromised by negative interactions (such as exploitation and cyberbullying) that occur in settings like social networking websites, discussion boards and chatrooms. 

On the corporate and national levels, Internet safety may be compromised by cyberattacks in the form of hacking in order to obtain information or steal monetary funds. Read below for tips on how to protect yourself in digital environments.

New technologies, such as mobile communication and the Internet, allow you to access information, shop, bank, watch films, and communicate from almost anywhere in the world. 

There are, however, downsides to information and communication technologies (ICTs). 

Perhaps the most dangerous implication is loss of privacyAlmost every time you use the Internet there is a digital mark left behind that can be tracked through both legal and illegal means. This is often referred to as your digital footprint

Follow these guidelines to secure your personal and financial safety when interacting in online environments such as the Internet:

Username & Passwords

  • Do not share your username or password. Try to memorize both your username and password rather than write it down in a place it could possibly be found.
  • Create a username and password that would be difficult for a third party to guess or understand.
    • For example, do not choose a password that includes or contains any personal details such as your given name, age, or birth date.
  • Remember to log out of all websites, internet browsers and applications, especially when you are using a computer or cell phone in a public place such as the library or an Internet cafe.

Profile Settings

Social networking websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to customize and change the settings that determine how the information you enter and upload is displayed, used and retrieved online.

  • Go to the user guide or help section of these websites to understand the settings and adjust them accordingly.
  • To ensure the settings work properly, try searching your name using a standard search engine such as Google or Bing.

Personal Information

  • Do not give out details such as your name, age, birthday, address or phone number to individual Internet users in settings like chat rooms or on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • When filling out online forms -- such as surveys, email listservs, or payment details for shopping sites -- make sure that the website is reputable, legal, and secure.

Watch writer Guy-Philippe Goldstein discuss how cyberattacks can lead to armed conflict and how we can avert this global security hazard:

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