I first connected my home PC to the Internet in 1995. 18 years ago cyber space was a very different place. It wasn't over crowded, there was a small recommendation for software security as security wasn't really a big issue, using the Internet at home was often a rarity. Internet use was generational with many older people being sceptical and avoiding the connection cost. Children often were not allowed access on a daily basis as schools were not online and parents yet to be convinced of its need or ability. in 1995 access to the internet was gained via your telephone line, online time converted the landline telephone to an ornament, drop outs necessitated a redial so phone bills rocketed and access was timed and charged by the hour, in my case $7.00. Yes, indeed using the Internet at home in 1995 was a rare and expensive pleasure.
Today, on the other hand, its whole different story, according to recent media coverage the average adult owns up to three online devices and never leaves home without at least one of them. Children have the ability and knowledge to use the Internet from pre-school age and school students in some places have stopped using pen and paper and carry laptops and i-Pads instead.
The Internet can be educational and entertaining and can simplify the daily organisation of our lives, for many the Internet has become a way of communicating with people around the world; many others are armchair travellers. You can buy a t-shirt from China or an airline ticket to China. The internet makes most things possible.
These benefits come with risks and challenges and it is important that you protect yourself and your family by securing your computer, being aware of the hazards and practising safe online behaviour are ways you can minimise your exposure to online risks.
One of the simplest ways to protect your online presence is to set strong passwords, particularly for important online accounts such as banking and email addresses. Change your password often, avoid using information which could be easily guessed such as your date of birth, street address or car registration number. Mix your password to include upper and lower case and include numbers.
Children often carry mobile phones, it is important to remember these can often provide access to the internet, in particular social networking sites, this means children are at risk of unintentionally divulging personal information.
Before you click on links or attachments in emails think about the consequences; spam emails often look legitimate but they can be used to carry viruses and other malicious software and emails which ask you to "forward to 10 friends" are not the best way to stay in touch with people. Emails asking you to confirm you home address, bank account details and date of birth are almost certainly dangerous. Protect yourself and do your friends a favour, delete these emails.
Education is the best way to protect yourself. Keep yourself informed about the latest cyber security risks. Subscribe to an email notification services that keep you informed about the latest cyber security risks and solutions.
Coming into contact with fraud, hoaxes, identity theft, phishing scams, spam privacy, and viruses are all possibilities when using cyberspace, there are many free online services which are easily accessible to protect your online presence.