With Safer Internet Day set to arrive again on the 7th of February, we all need to review our security basics to "Be the change" and "Unite for a better Internet" which are the themes of this year's annual international event to remind us all to spend a little time contemplating online safety.
A safer Internet starts with running updated security software like SuperSafe on to all your devices, picking unique, uncrackable passwords for all your important accounts and making backups of your PC, phone and tablet.
The dangers of sharing
But it doesn't end there. Sharing lots of things with lots of people is what makes the Internet so great but is also what makes it so potentially dangerous. Everything you do online can be contagious. If you get hacked by a phishing attack, you could then spread that attack to your entire contact list. Likewise if you fall for a social media scam, your entire feed is now vulnerable to it. This is why a safer Internet requires all of us to be smart sharers.
There are certain things you should obviously not share like your passwords for your accounts or Wi-Fi network or the passcodes to your devices. This may be common sense. However, many people still end up sharing information that could help potential crooks from guessing passwords or security questions on someone's public social media accounts. This includes pet names, birthdays and names of your childhood schools.
Be smart when sharing photos
Smart sharing also requires thinking about photo sharing in new ways. People who have grown up after the birth of Facebook may feel very differently about creating a trail of images that will likely trail them their entire lives than their parents who grew up not knowing that nearly all phones would eventually have cameras. Parents need to think about photo sharing from their kids' perspective and vice versa.
The social incentives for sharing images cannot be underestimated. Instagram photos that include a face are 38 per cent more likely to get 'likes' than photos without faces*. And the more provocative an image, the more likely it is to provoke a reaction and possibly haunt you for the rest of your life. This doesn't mean you need to be paranoid. With hundreds of millions of images uploaded to Facebook every single day, the chances of a photo standing out enough to destroy your life are diluted by sheer abundance.
But photos can give strangers the opportunity to present a false intimacy with you or your children's lives that could lead to escalating complications and dangers. And any image you share online can easily be downloaded and reshared in other contexts.
This is why Internet safety isn't just about software and passwords. It's about knowing how privacy settings work so that you know to whom you're sharing with. And it's also about thinking before you click and share.
Because you're not just keeping yourself safe, you're protecting your friends, your family and the entire Internet.
Supersafe is here to help
We're giving all of our customers anti-virus protection on their first device FREE and protection for 8 devices for only £2 a month (worth £99 for a year). Just log in to My Account, select the package you want and you will receive an email from F-Secure to install it on your device for full protection.