“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.”
The Internet is nothing short of a superpower. It connects individuals to individuals forming groups of individuals which are then connected to form larger clusters which again connect further to form larger contingents that sometimes grow massive as much as continents. Well, Facebook itself has a population that is larger than 3 of the world’s biggest countries.
Enough said the internet is a superpower which if misused can cause more harm than benefits. Unfortunately, as I am writing this blog, the internet is being misused in myriad ways causing trouble to naive and innocent users. Of course, there are ways to stay protected too. Using secure internet connections, encrypting your websites with RapidSSL Certificates, using two-factor authentication or using physical keys to log into user accounts would be a safer bet.
Before we go deeper, I want to list down specific ways how the Internet is being misused so that you are in the know and take measures to safeguard yourself:
Email, which laid the foundation for the growth story of the Internet is now the most misused online utility. Spammers blast unsolicited emails to users in millions hoping to steal their personal details.
The Nigerian email scam which is still prevalent is a classic example of this. There are also several other forms of email spamming which all lead to the underlying problem of Internet misuse.
The Internet gives users anonymity. They can hide their real faces behind virtual facades empowering them in a wrong way to spew negativity in the virtual world. Negative trolling has built a wall of negativity that is creating serious psychological problems for users. Even students and young adults fall victims to negative trolling.
Also known as cyberbullying, negative trolling has given a negative experience for at least 41% of teen social media users. The bad news doesn’t stop there. Negative trolling has seriously deteriorated the mental health of youth causing heightened anxiety, sleep deprivation, poor self-esteem, and many other psychological disorders. Needless to say, negative trolling is one of the rampant misuses of the Internet which is destroying the healthy youth of tomorrow.
Ever since financial transactions started happening over the Internet, hackers have started to prey on victims who do not know the ways of the Internet. Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information from a user. Most often, it is used to obtain credit card details or banking credentials using scrupulous means.
Hackers pose as a trustworthy entity whom the user trusts and relies upon. They send emails from email ids that resemble that of the original entity. Only a trained and keen eye can observe that the email originates from a fake id which does not belong to the genuine entity. Any user who responds to such emails may fall prey to phishing.
In the real world, each individual has an identity which is proven with a social security number, a driver’s license, or some sort of authorized identity card. But in the virtual world, a user’s identity is linked to an email id, a phone number, sometimes even a social media profile. This makes it easy for literally anyone to create a clone of the profile by mimicking the profile picture, bio, and other particulars.
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Identity theft has several hidden motives behind it. Person shaming, cyberbullying, blackmailing, are some of the common motives behind identity theft. In fact, advanced identity thefts even allow hackers to break into bank accounts of victims and siphon away money at will.
Media consisting of movies and music albums are the most stolen digital assets. In fact, the internet has made it easier for anyone to search, find and download their favorite movies and tracks without having to pay for them, ever. The end result? Producers and artists who painstakingly create original content as well as invest hard-earned money into them end up losing it all.
Media piracy is hard to contain due to the widespread availability of the internet. Undoubtedly, it is one of the biggest misuses of the Internet.
The Internet allows anyone to get a sneak peek into your private life. From your vacation photos to your job updates, almost every information is available in the public domain. Now imagine the aftermath if some evil-minded person is able to know about your real-time whereabouts and daily life routines? It is a virtual invitation to get scammed or assaulted. And, the Internet sets a perfect stage for that.
“Money is the root of all evil.” is debatable in the real world. But, in the virtual world money is the root of all scams. From eCommerce frauds to bank account hacking, almost every Internet misuse trickles down to financial gains. Sometimes the damage is self-inflicted too.
For instance, if you are an online banking user, poor security measures could cause you more damage than not using it at all. Following best practices like looking for https sign on the bank’s website, the green address bar and so on will keep you safe.
Safer side of the net
Being on the safer side of the Internet is not something that can be easily done. You have to train your eyes to spot the good from the bad. As a responsible user, you must avoid instances of misusing the internet that could potentially cause harm to other users. That is how humanity as a whole can remain on the safer side of the net.