In today’s digital world, online connectivity has become an important and indispensable component of our everyday lives. Online predators and cybercriminals, however, are constantly lurking on social networking sites, ready to pounce on their unsuspecting victims at the first opportunity. It is important to note, though, that most cybercrimes have been made possible by the netizens themselves —through their seemingly harmless act of cyber sharing.
As a cyber Pinoy, how can you protect yourself, your loved ones, your home or your business?
Here are some tips to help you stay on the safe side of the cyberspace.
1. Don’t post any personal information that could be used to steal your identity. According to the Internet World Stats, as of June 2016, 54 million Filipinos (or 52.6% of our total population) are internet users. There are 47 million active Facebook accounts. Along with Brazil, Philippines tops daily time spent online using PC or tablet with 5 hours and 12 minutes, the highest among many countries. At 3.7 hours, we also top the list of countries with the most time spent on social media each day. And with a data consumption of about 150k terabytes annually, we are fast developing into a land of online data guzzlers. With that vast potential audience that stays long online, we need to be extra-careful about what we put out there.
2. Don’t share your exact location at any given time. While other countries have already developed cyberwarfare armories to address the growing threat of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, the Philippines has, over the years, been regarded as a cybercrime hotspot or a haven of crimes committed online due to its weak cybersecurity. We need not equip these cyber criminals with more weapons to use against us.
3. Don’t flaunt pictures of your personal possessions or properties. Philippines ranked 39th globally in 2014 on internet threat activities, based on the annual report of Symantec Internet Security Threat. Seeing pictures of your mansions, flashy cars, sparkly jewelries, etc. might be too difficult for these online predators to resist.
4. Don’t divulge any information that could compromise the safety of your home or business. According to the 2014-2015 Cybercrime Report of the Department of Justice’s Office of Cybercrime, cyberespionage attacks or intellectual property theft is on the rise as a major threat. 31% of the attacks in recent years were directed against small businesses.
5. Don’t share information about your travel documents. A massive breach in the Comelec’s database happened just days before the national elections in May 2016. The personal data of more than 55 million registered voters were leaked online, making each voter susceptible to fraud and other risks. There is no need to provide additional information to those leaked data that the hackers have already amassed about us.
6. Don’t be too comfortable sharing anything with someone you just met online. Identity thieves can easily create fake profiles in order to obtain personal information that should otherwise have been private.
7. Do secure your social media accounts. Your security setting should not allow you to share everything with the “public.” Swift (or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) stated last year that “a wider and highly adaptive campaign” was under way targeting banks. From the last quarter of 2015 until the first quarter of 2016, Philippine banks had been the target of cyberattacks of foreign hackers. Also, following the release of the ruling on the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China last year, 68 Philippine government websites had been subjected to various forms of cyberattacks. In retaliation, Anonymous Philippines, a loosely associated network of Filipino hacktivists, hacked and defaced more than 200 Chinese websites. The University of the Philippines, DZMM, and many others were also targeted. We can never be too vigilant nor too cautious.
8. Do read everything you want to share before clicking the share button. Avoid spreading click and link baits as these could launch malicious software or viruses that could damage a computer.
9. Do fact check from reliable sources any information you feel the need to share online. The Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) has reported a total of 1,211 cybercrime complaints covering the years 2013-2015. Online libel is the top 2 complaint.
10. Do teach your children about safety precautions when using the internet. They should know how to spot and deal with online predators that prey particularly on children. Our deep-rooted problem of poverty coupled with the failure of the law enforcement agencies in the Philippines to fully protect the children under RA 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Children), RA 7610 (Child Abuse Law) and RA 9775 (Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2209) is a come-on for international pedophiles and child pornographers to come here, abuse our children, and make money from it. UNICEF says that the Philippines is “the number one global source of child pornography.”
11. Do share links and articles that will only inspire, empower, entertain, educate and bring good vibes to the social media universe.
Global Cybersecurity Index and Cyberwellness Profiles Report
DOJ-OOC 2014-2015 Cybercrime Report
Written for and submitted to Inquirer.net
Commissioned by Globe Telecommunications Company