Today’s women are getting empowered to larger scale and showing their noticeable presence in almost all the fields including those domains which were considered male bastion. This empowerment and growing presence is just one side of the story and there is another aspect which is not that pleasant.
The women now need to not only venture out frequently from the safe havens of their home but also need to show an active presence in the social media. These are the areas where they face challenges every now and then. The women safety is a very sensitive and wide topic therefore this article will throw light on important aspects of women safety on Internet. An unfortunate number of women are increasingly becoming victims of cyber crimes. According to a recent study more women are known to use the Internet to enrich their relationships compared to men and that makes them even more easy prey.
Young women, especially those in age bracket of 18-24, experience certain severe types of harassment at disproportionately high levels: 26% of these young women have been stalked online, and 25% were the target of online sexual harassment. Although there is no foolproof plan which can guarantee the women safety on internet or for that matter on roads too but by taking certain precautions we can definitely reduce the possibilities of any unpleasant experience. All we need is little time and alertness. It is surprising to see that most of the women do not have even the basic knowledge of internet safety.
The people using the internet and including women should take the following precautions for a pleasant internet experience:
1) Don’t share passwords and keep strong passwords-
Do not reveal your passport casually to any close friend or even relative. In some cases, they might be misused or they may accidentally reveal to someone. In both the cases you are the one to suffer, therefore it is better to be safe than sorry.
2) Don’t leave your Wi-Fi connection on or webcam connected at all times-
There are too many apps capable of turning on your camera and slyly recording your movements without your knowledge. To be sure that no such thing happens, it is better to keep your camera covered when not in use. Further, there is no need to keep your Wi-Fi connection on at all times for both security and health reasons.
3) Don’t share more than necessary-
It includes your close relations and more so for fast-growing friendships on the internet. Never ever share intimate messages, pictures, information or anything that has the potential to come back and embarrass you.
4) Don’t meet online acquaintances alone-
Increasing number of crimes has been reported against women due to this reason only. You may be easily being tempted to do so but listen more to your brain than heart. Even if you have to, make sure you meet the person in a crowded coffee shop or mall with any of your close acquaintances.
5) Reveal only as much as needed and always put location off-
There are too many sinister characters browsing social media sites to initiate friendship with unsuspecting women. Stalkers can find ways to reach you with a simple photograph or status update. Disable geo-tagging in your camera unless and until required. Any device with an enabled ‘location service’ poses the risk of exposing your exact location at any given time. Never ever share the details of your kids especially their school.
6) Update all operating systems on you devices-
Security updates and patches keep the latest threats away therefore always install them no matter how busy you are.
7) Secure your devices with trusted anti-virus software –
Having a mobile phone or a tablet without a security system in place is like sitting in a house with the doors unlocked.
8) Pay attention to the risks of e-mail-
Do not open all attachments or click links in e-mail even if you know the sender as these can be used to transmit spam and viruses to your computer. Never respond to e-mail asking you to provide personal information, especially your account number or password.
9) Don’t forward spam-
Whether it’s an amazing ‘thought of the day’, ‘set of jokes’, ‘amazing photo’ or similar email, it may be a scam designed to collect the account information and data of everyone you share it with. Be careful of what you open or share. WhatsApp, Facebook, etc are flooded with such messages.
10) Read the terms and conditions carefully-
11) Refrain from mindless downloads-
You may frequently come across free games, offers, deals, etc. They may be loaded with viruses, spyware and malicious software which can get into your device and extract all your data. Refrain from mindless downloads. Through purposely designed lucrative marketing tools like survey’s, games, quizzes, and the like one can get as much information they want and further sell that to interested parties.
12) Never add people you don’t know and Block people you don’t want to interact with-
There is no need to feel guilty in declining friend requests from people you barely know. Ignore, unfriend or block them. There are plenty of options given in popularly used apps like WhatApp, Facebook, etc. Do check and change the privacy settings of apps as per your requirement and put the needed restrictions.
13) Periodically review your internet contacts and online activities.
Prune out everyone you no longer have a close relationship with. Review your images and content you’ve posted online and seen if they reveal more about you than should be known.
14) Learn how to report abuse –
If something negative occurs immediately report the incident to the website company. Reporting issues is what responsible Internet citizens do to help stop illegal activity, harassment, and predatory behavior of online bullies and criminals. If you ever feel physically threatened, contact local law enforcement immediately.
It is your life and your safety. Protect yourself even if it sometimes seems rude on your part. There is no space for guilt as far as the question of security is concerned. Don’t be carried away by excessive flattery as it is often deceptive with ulterior motives. Trust your instincts and ignore or block a person if you are not comfortable. Be alert, be safe and happy surfing.