The Momo challenge has panicked parents over the past few weeks but has since been proven to be a cruel hoax. But in the hysteria, what has it taught us about internet safety?
Reports had spread across the internet suggesting that children watching online videos had suddenly been confronted the grotesque-faced Momo who sets them a series of dangerous tasks.
YouTube has since said it found no evidence of the video, while children’s charities say they have received no reports of anybody receiving messages or harming themselves.
It was, charities say, not causing any harm on its own, but subsequent panic over the image has spread the image far wider.
The challenge has, however, ignited a debate over trolls and our children’s online safety. Do we do enough to protect them, and ourselves, from the dangers that lurk online?
There is a subculture of individuals online who take pleasure in people’s displeasure and pain. This can range from upsetting messages through to vitriolic campaigns that can promote self-harm.
In the early days of the internet, this would be sent simply in an email, but the rise in its prevalence has made online trolls more creative, spreading into video.
There are many ways to keep yourself and your children safe online. Take a look at our top tips to keep you happy while browsing:
KEEP PERSONAL INFORMATION LIMITED
Potential employers or customers don’t need to know your personal relationship status or your home address, so don’t put this information on the internet.
You wouldn’t hand out your personal details to strangers in person, so don’t make it accessible to hundreds of people online.
Your professional background and how to get in touch with you are details that are appropriate for certain sites, such as LinkedIn.
ENABLE PRIVACY SETTINGS
Marketers love to know all about you, and so do hackers.
Both can learn a lot from your browsing and social media usage, but you can take control of your information with the use of privacy settings.
Both web browsers and mobile operating systems have settings available to protect your privacy online, so make sure you always use them. Major websites like Facebook also have privacy-enhancing settings enabled at all times.
PRACTICE SAFE BROWSING
You wouldn’t choose to walk through a dangerous area, so don’t risk visiting a dodgy website.
Cybercriminals use eye-catching content as bait to reel you in and steal your information or infect your devices.
Hackers know that we can sometimes be interested by dubious content but by resisting the urge to click, hackers don’t stand a chance.
KEEP YOUR CONNECTION SECURE
When you go online in a public place, for example by using a public Wi-Fi connection, you have no control over its security.
Your connection may be vulnerable to all sorts of dangerous malware that could compromise your device and details.
Make sure your device is secure, and when in doubt, wait for a better time before providing information such as your bank account number online.
BE MINDFUL OF YOUR DOWNLOADS
A top goal of cybercriminals is to trick you into downloading malware, and they can disguise these programmes in clever forms.
This malware can be disguised as an app: anything from a popular game to something that checks traffic or the weather
To keep your device secure, don’t download apps that look suspicious or come from a site you don’t trust. The same advice goes for pictures, videos, and other content you can download online.
CHOOSE STRONG PASSWORDS
Passwords are one of the biggest weak spots in the whole internet security structure, so make sure you choose something that will baffle cybercriminals
Avoid easy to remember options such as “password” and “123456” and opt for something with a range of symbols, numbers, upper and lower case letters.
Password manager software can help you to manage multiple passwords so that you don’t forget them.
SELECT SECURE SITES FOR PURCHASES
Any time you make a purchase online, you need to provide credit card or bank account information, making it easy for cybercriminals to get their hands on.
Only supply this information to sites that provide secure, encrypted connections.
You can identify secure sites by looking for an address that starts with https: (the S stands for secure) rather than simply http: They may also be marked by a padlock icon next to the address bar.
MONITOR WHAT YOU POST
The Internet does not have a delete key, so everything you post is easily traceable.
Any comment or image you post online may stay online forever because removing the original does not remove any copies that other people made.
There is no way for you to take back a remark you wish you hadn’t made, or get rid of that embarrassing selfie you took at a party.
Don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your parents or a prospective employer to see.
BE CAREFUL WHO YOU MEET ONLINE
People you meet online are not always who they claim to be.
Fake social media profiles are a popular way for hackers to cozy up to unwary web users and steal important information.
Use caution when speaking to strangers online – it can be a great place to meet new friends, but also a dangerous place for you to be targeted.
UPDATE YOUR ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE
Internet security software cannot protect against every threat, but it will detect and remove most malware.
Because of this, you should make sure it’s up to date so that your devices are always protected.
Missing important updates for your software may leave your device vulnerable to dangerous malware that compromises your security.