Make sure your online tracks are not something to be ashamed of
You can cause a lot of harm if you share information, comment on things or make claims when you are feeling emotional, even if this is absolutely not your original intention. When sharing your opinions or information in general, please also cite your sources and justify your views. Diversity and tolerance lay a good foundation for various conversations.
You should be critical of customer feedback provided through feedback channels, for instance, particularly if this is highly different from the mainstream view. You should also check what sorts of other comments have been previously written under the same alias. Fake customer feedback is an everyday occurrence online. Fake feedback can make companies lose customers, which may end the company’s business.
Online dating services and mobile applications make it easy for you to meet people and find company. If you are dating someone online, it may be easy to forget that the person behind an alias may not be the one they claim to be. The person’s picture, name and life story may all be a lie, and you should therefore build trust with the persons little by little.
Do not share your personal information in public. Think carefully about sharing your information, especially if you have never met the other person. Your phone number, name and address may be enough to get a criminal going, even resulting in them using your bank account or coming to your home.
Take care of your online persona
You may be contacted by people you do not know via online services and email. It may be difficult to assess the legitimacy of the person who contacted you as people may pretend to be someone they are not online to deceive the person they communicate with.
For example, one form of online bullying involves sharing another person’s personal information and photos in a fake profile. In fact, you should be careful in responding to any inquiries concerning personal matters, especially if the person asking the questions is someone you have only just met online. When using online services, you should take the openness of the environment and your privacy into account. For example, you can limit those who see your posts, writings, and photos to friends only. When registering with and using online services, you should also think about which information is actually necessary for the implementation of the service.
When you post photos, music, and videos online, make sure that you have permission to publish the material. Publishing another person's material as your own may be interpreted as a copyright infringement. If you post photos of other people in private spaces, check with them for permission to post the photo. You should not publish any posts or photos of other people that you would not like to be published of yourself.
Be critical of the messages you receive
You cannot always verify the authenticity of a message based on the sender's name or email address alone, as these are easy to fabricate. If you have any doubts of the sender of a message you have received, you should also be suspicious of the message content. Do not forward any messages that seem strange to minimise potential damage.
Pay attention to the appearance and grammar in the message. Offers that seem too good to be true, asking for money, and requests for passwords and bank IDs are also clear signs of a scam.
If you are not familiar with the name of the company approaching you and do not remember providing your contact information to them, you should be suspicious. To verify the legitimacy of a company, you can check sources such as the company's website and the Virre (External link)service of the Finnish Patent and Registration Office.
You should remember that, for example, banks do not request their customers' online banking IDs by email or telephone.
If a message you receive includes a link or attachment, do not be too hasty to click on it. This is a simple way for you to considerably improve your online security.
You can find out where the link would lead you, for example, by hovering your cursor over the link. This shows you the address behind the link on a tab or the bottom of your browser.
If you think that a message sent by someone you know has suspicious attachments, check that the message is legitimate before you open the attachment. As a rule, you should not open the attachments of emails you receive from people you do not know. You should also ignore messages and friend requests from strangers on social media.
Make updating a habit
Make sure that you regularly update your:
- security software (including firewall, virus protection, etc.)
- web browser, including plugins
- operating system
- mobile devices.
So-called minor upgrades improve security and performance. Major upgrades often concern overall software development, including adding new features to the software or renewing its user interface. The most significant upgraded features are typically mentioned in connection with the upgrade package.
When software or a device reaches the end of its life cycle, the manufacturer will no longer provide it with updates. At this stage, you should replace the device/software with an upgradeable or fully new version whose development and safety continues to be supported by the manufacturer.
Most programs offer automatic updates, which means that you do not have to separately search for the updates. This allows you to be sure that the software you are using is up to date and you will not forget about updates. You can typically turn on automatic updates in the program settings.
When you have turned on automatic updates, the programs automatically search for new updates online. In some cases, the completion of the updates requires you to do something, such as click on your computer mouse a few times. This will cause an icon or window to appear on the device screen to indicate that a new update is available and can be installed. In some software, the update icon appears on a taskbar showing up on your screen. Most system updates require you to restart your computer or mobile device.
If you end up on a malicious website, notifications may pop on your screen to alert you of a virus found on your computer or to remind you of a software update. Do not click on them even if the pop-up windows look similar to the update windows of your operating system or related software. If you think the update notification is suspicious, visit the software manufacturer's home page to look for information about the update to check if it is genuine.