The idea that a stranger equals danger has been soaked into our minds ever since we learned to walk or cycle alone in the park. With new platforms of communications available, considering the gateway to a whole new world online that the internet provides us with, the scope for meeting strangers has increased over time and for obvious reasons, it is inevitable.

Amidst the excitement and curiosity that users have towards social media platforms, more than often the majority tends to overlook the dangers that come along with the constant usage of these apps and websites. Speaking to any random person with a cool profile and sharing personal details out of blind trust, innocence and immaturity, people become the victims of many personal, social and financial frauds that scar them for the rest of the life. It is a point worth making that there are no particular ages when it comes to becoming an online victim and neither are there any age or gender boundaries for a scammer. The power to misuse internet relies in the hands of everyone, from a teenager to a retired citizen, each is capable of bringing harm or harmony to the citizens of the internet.

 An Overview Of Possible Internet Dangers That Come With Strangers

Frauds

Fraudsters take the opportunity to establish contact with their targets using social media. They first study the social profile of the potential victim and get closer to their goal by sending friend requests and follow requests to the victim. In case the user is unaware of the risk he/she is taking and provides personal information to the person on the other end, there is a very good chance that the information might be exploited and used to further scam the victim. There are many methods of scamming, like phishing, spoofing and many other social engineering attacks that can cost the victim a lot of personal data. These scams can also come in the form of offers, discounts, job opportunities, free vacations etc. to rob the victim financially and socially. Asking for monetary favors or promising true love, these are the tactics of the ruthless social media users who go to any extent for their needs.

Hackers

If your new online friend has a hidden talent or intention of hacking, he/she may very well do so and hack into your computer and inject malicious malware and spyware onto your device by forwarding URLs or files. Doing so, your information is no longer yours as the hacker has access to your files as much as you. While you might not realize the deed in action until the consequences are evident, know that some damage can be well beyond repair. It is best to exercise precautions and install good antivirus software, avoid random downloading/sharing and restrain your tendency to be amiable online.  

Blackmails/Threats

There is no tale when we hear cases about how former friends turn into foes. Keeping in mind that even real-world friends are not reliable, it is wise to never trust people online. Avoid romanticizing your online life and falling for pretentious love. Many people have suffered a great deal of loss by getting their intimate, censor-worthy content used for blackmailing them. By avoiding sharing secrets, private photographs and videos, there is a good chance to avoid being blackmailed for favors in return. Limiting your online conversation also puts you in a safe perimeter from being threatened for your choices or opinions.

Stalkers

There is an abundance of pedophiles and sexual predators online and it is never an easy guess to know who. No user can ever know if they are being stalked and followed both online and offline by their ‘admirers These stalkers have the potential to ruin lives by constant harassing and disturbing mental peace, sense of security of individuals. To avoid this from happening users must pay close attention to their social security settings and limit their access to only a close and trusted few. By not posting publicly, stalkers get only limited basic information on the user. Also, do not agree to meet online friends’ offline. It is rarely safe and comes with serious risks of abduction or assault.

To Stay Safe Online From Problem Causers

  • Don’t share personal information like passwords, bank details or social security numbers online with strangers who call themselves your ‘friends’
  • Do not involve romantically with online friends/strangers that leads to emotional attachment.
  • Limit your intimacy and personal photo sharing.
  • Do not agree on video calling with strangers.
  • Don’t lend money or accept money from unknown people online.
  • Consider blocking strangers if they message constantly.
  • Don’t fall for offers or favors.
  • Don’t open links sent by unknown people.
  • Always keep your system’s antivirus software running.
  • Do not accept challenges.
  • Never agree on meeting online friends in person outside.
  • While using social media, don’t make your life social with constant updates.
  • Don’t converse with strangers in the first place and reject any stranger’s request to join you on social media platforms.
  • Report to authorities in case of nuisance.

The pond of the internet has fishes of all kinds. But the ones to look out for are the sharks and whales that are in the wait to attack you. Be mindful of your online friends, expect tragedy and prepare in advance to dodge the attacks before they hit you.

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