Internet safety, or online safety, is the knowledge of maximizing the user's personal safety and security risks to private information and property associated with using the internet, and the self-protection from computer crime in general. As the number of internet users continues to grow worldwide, internet safety is a growing concern for both children and adults. Common concerns regarding safety on the internet include: malicious users (spam, phishing, cyberbullying, cyberstalking etc.), websites and software (malware, computer viruses, etc.) and various types of obscene or offensive content. Several crimes can be committed on the Internet such as stalking, identity theft and more. Most social networking and chat sites have a page about safety. Numerous groups, governments and organizations have expressed concerns about the safety of children using the Internet. Safer Internet Day is celebrated worldwide in February to raise awareness about internet safety. In the UK the Get Safe Online campaign has received sponsorship from government agency Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) and major Internet companies such as Microsoft and eBay.
Sensitive information such as personal information and identity, passwords are often associated with personal property (for example, bank accounts) and privacy and may present security concerns if leaked. Unauthorized access and usage of private information may result in consequence such as identity theft, as well as theft of property. Common causes of information security breaches include:
Phishing is a type of scam where the scammers disguise as a trustworthy source in attempt to obtain private information such as passwords, and credit card information, etc. through the internet. Phishing often occurs through emails and instant messaging and may contain links to websites that direct the user to enter their private information. These fake websites are often designed to look identical to their legitimate counterparts to avoid suspicion from the user.
Internet scams are schemes that deceive the user in various ways in attempt to take advantage of them. Internet scams often aim to cheat the victim of personal property directly rather than personal information through false promises, confidence tricks and more.
Malware, particularly spyware, is malicious software disguised as legitimate software designed to collect and transmit private information, such as passwords, without the user's consent or knowledge. They are often distributed through e-mail, software and files from unofficial locations. Malware is one of the most prevalent security concerns as often it is impossible to determine whether a file is infected, despite the source of the file.
The growth of the internet gave rise to many important services accessible to anyone with a connection. One of these important services is digital communication. While this service allowed us to communicate with others through the internet, this also allowed the communication with malicious users. While malicious users often use the internet for personal gain, this may not be limited to financial/material gain. This is especially a concern to parents and children, as children are often targets of these malicious users. Common threats to personal safety include:
Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. It may include the making of false accusations or statements of fact (as in defamation), monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information that may be used to harass.
Cyberbullying is often an extension of bullying outside the internet, and may take form in many different ways. For example, the malicious user might release images of the user without his or her consent. Because cyberbullying often stems from real-life bullying, this is largely a social concern, rather than internet safety. Cyberbullying occurs more frequently than real-life bullying as the internet often provides means to carry out bullying while allowing the perpetrator to remain anonymous and hidden, avoiding backlash in the process.
Online predation is the act of engaging an underage minor into inappropriate sexual relationships through the internet. Online predators may attempt to initiate and seduce minors into relationships through the use of chat rooms or internet forums. It is debated whether online predators is actually a threat to internet safety, as many cases take a long time to develop the relationship. As such, targets of online predators may see the relationship as a legitimate attempt at romance.
Various websites on the internet contain material that some deem offensive, distasteful or explicit, which may often be not of the user's liking. Such websites may include internet pornography, shock sites, hate speech or otherwise inflammatory content. Such content may manifest in many ways, such as pop-up ads and unsuspecting links.
- Control software:
- Identity fraud
- Incredible Internet
- Internet crime
- Internet security for information about protecting data and avoiding malware.
- Website reputation rating tools for information about website safety & trustability.
Groups and individuals working in the topic
- AHTCC – Australian High Tech Crime Centre
- Sonia Livingstone
- Tween summit
- Youth Internet Safety Survey