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Human Rights 27 January 2017

Shield & Sword – 10 tips to protect yourself online

Christine Runnegar
Christine RunnegarSenior Director, Internet Trust

Last weekend, millions joined the Women’s March in the US and across the world. They stood up for their rights, and the rights of everyone. We need to do the same on the Internet.

The Internet gives everyone a voice, but we need people to protect those voices.

Online harassment and cyber bullying are real. And, some groups are targeted more than others.

Last year, the Guardian exposed the stark reality in the field of journalism. An analysis of written comments posted in response to articles on the Guardian website revealed that of the ten journalists who received the most abusive comments, eight were women, and the two men were black.

They concluded this “provides the first quantitative evidence for what female journalists have long suspected: that articles written by women attract more abuse and dismissive trolling than those written by men”.

Sadly, who you are affects how you are treated by others online, as well as offline.

However, a powerful way to counter online abuse, threats and violence is to share our knowledge with each other so that we can become stronger champions of privacy and security, and to stand up for others when they need it.

So, to mark this year’s International Data Privacy Day, the Internet Society would like to share with you 10 tips to protect yourself online.

1. Know the terrain.

The Internet is a powerful tool for communication. Learn how to use the Internet, keep your eyes open for good and bad actors, and make the most of what the Internet offers.

2. Keep your private life private.

Keep your personal information separate from your professional role. Use different personas for different roles.

3. Protect communications.

Use end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication for confidential communications.

4. Obscure your location.

Remove location data from images and videos before posting. Turn off application access to location. Don’t disclose your location in public posts.

5. Guard your devices.

They’re more precious than any jewels. Protect them from both physical and digital tampering. Use encryption and strong access credentials.

6. Prepare for an attack.

Find allies and prepare a plan for dealing with online harassment, doxing and other forms of abuse. Don’t feed the trolls! They don’t deserve your attention.

7. Stand firm.

Don’t let cyber bullies undermine what you are doing. Show them you are not afraid. Others will stand with you. Be willing to ask for help.

8. Beware of Trojan horses.

Look out for spear-phishers. Check before connecting with someone new. If something seems too good to be true, don’t trust it!

9. Lead.

Share your experience with others. Let people know that you are there to help.

10. Protect others.

If you host user-generated content, prevent users from posting derogatory or other abusive messages. Help remove personal information that has been exposed to hurt someone. Report offenders.

Please share your tips! This year, don’t sit by when you see abuse on social media. Offer a helping hand.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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