The Jakarta Post
Despite their numbers growing rapidly in recent years, Internet users seem not to have enough knowledge to protect their online accounts, exposing themselves to threats in their offline lives, a training session on digital security has shown.
Most participants of a recent three-day class, which was held in South Jakarta as part of the International Feminist Hackathon (FemHack) held in 26 countries all over the world, were overwhelmed by the simple fact that their passwords were categorized as weak.
'Strong passwords must contain more than 20 characters. They must be complex, which means the passwords are generated from combinations of letters with capitalization variations, numbers, symbols and punctuation marks,' said Dhyta Caturani, a women's rights activist who became trainer for the event.
She advised the participants to have one password for each of their accounts and change the passwords regularly.
'The most important thing is to never share your passwords with others, even with the person closest to you,' she said, adding that in many cases people sought revenge against their ex-partners by cracking their accounts and then posting inappropriate content.
Problems in remembering and storing passwords can be solved by using free and reliable applications that are recommended by digital security firms, Dhyta said.
'One of the applications is KeePas, which can be downloaded from securityinabox.org,' she said, adding that the application could also be used as a password generator.
Dhyta told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the session that Internet users had to know the dos and don'ts of surfing the online world.
'Always check and recheck. Be careful before you click a link, download content or share a post,' she said, giving as an example that many users were unaware that turning on a geo-location feature could harm them if they did not use it wisely.
'If you post your location online, bad people could visit you or rob your house when you're away. For an activist like me, I could never disclose where I live because I am vulnerable to abuses,' said Dhyta, who has been an activist for more than 20 years. She added that women and people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community usually became targets of aggressive actions and abusive language online.
Andi Gunawan, a writer and freelance community manager who is also known as a Twitter celebrity with almost 24,000 followers, said that being open about his sexual orientation makes him a target of hate speech and harassment on his social media accounts. He said that he did not bother to respond to accounts that were specifically created for voicing hate speech.
'People should be aware that social media, with its rapid growth, is not only fun but also scary and dangerous because many kinds of people are in there and they could easily hide in anonymity,' he said.
To give himself some peace of mind, Andi activates a notifications filter of his Twitter accounts so it only shows him notifications he would like to see.
Dhyta said many users did not carefully read about the privacy policies, features and services offered by a social media outlet.
'The key is to wisely use the Internet. Be mindful of yourself and others,' she said.
Andi added that a friend of his always asked his friends if they wanted to be tagged in his posts.
'That's simple good manners, but sometimes forgotten,' he said. (prm)
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