By: The Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign
While the Internet has opened many doors for women, it can also pose serious dangers for those who are unaware of how to protect themselves online. Women are frequent targets for cybercriminals seeking to commit crimes, which can range from identity theft, to physical stalking, to cyberbullying. In fact, more than 20% of students will be cyberbullying victims by their high school graduation. Sharing too much information online often times contributes to the cybercrimes committed against women, and taking simple actions can help prevent you from becoming a victim.
To address these issues, the YWCA USA has joined the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Stop.Think.Connect. National Network, which is a coalition of non-profit organizations committed to raising awareness about cybersecurity. Together, our two organizations help YWCA members and all women learn about the dangers that exist online and take action to protect themselves against threats, making the Internet a safer place for everyone.
While nobody can ever be completely protected from cyber threats, there are actions all Americans can take to make themselves, their families, and their communities safer and more secure online. Here are some tips from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) to safeguard your information today and throughout the year:
- Be careful supplying personal information – Unless you trust a site, don’t give your address, password, or credit card information. Look for indications that the site uses SSL to encrypt your information. Although some sites require you to supply your social security number (e.g., sites associated with loans or credit cards), be especially wary of providing this information online.
- Take advantage of options to limit exposure of private information – Default options on certain websites may be chosen for convenience, not for security. For example, avoid allowing a website to remember your password. Also, evaluate your settings on websites used for social networking. The nature of those sites is to share information, but you can restrict access to certain information so that you limit who can see what.
- Limit cookies – If an attacker can access your computer, he or she may be able to find personal data stored in cookies. You may not realize the extent of the information stored on your computer until it is too late.
- Establish guidelines for computer use – If there are multiple people using your computer, especially children, make sure they understand how to use it safely. Setting boundaries and guidelines will help to protect your data.
- Browse safely – Be careful which websites you visit; if it seems suspicious, leave the site. Also make sure to take precautions by increasing your security settings, keeping your virus definitions up to date, and scanning your computer for spyware.
January 28th is also Data Privacy Day, so we encourage YWCA associations across the country to work with the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign to keep our communities safe online. For more information about Stop.Think.Connect. programs and opportunities, we encourage YWCA staff and members to visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect or email firstname.lastname@example.org.