Many people describe the Internet as a phenomenon of the 20th Century. Now in the 21st Century, it is a tool that is used by almost everyone. People use the Internet for shopping, booking holidays, socialising with friends, voting in elections, getting weather reports, banking, playing online multiplayer games, sharing music and video. It can even be used as a reseach tool to help you with school work - try that out sometime.
In Europe in 2008 the population is estimated at 803,903,540 people. Of these 393,373,398 are Internet users. In the year 2000, the number was 105,096,093. That is a rise of 274.3% in less that 10 years. 48.9% of the population of Europe are Internet users, and that figure is expected to rise much more sharply in the next few years, as access to the Internet becomes ever quicker, easier and more widespread (I hear they even have the Internet in some parts of Lochwinnoch now).
So, more and more people are using the Internet to do more and more different activities. It's all good, right?
Well, not necesarily. This increased useage can bring problems to users of the Internet. Hackers are looking to break into systems and steal data, as well as your identity and the contents of your bank accounts. Organisations are tracking your browsing habits and targetting you with ever more personalised advertisements. Predators are finding and grooming young victims. There are also those who use the Internet as a method to distribute pornography and hate-filled propoganda. Virus writers are creating thousands of new viruses every day to infect your computer. Cyberbulling is becoming an ever-increasing threat.
The Internet can be a dangerous place. So it's all bad, right.
Well, of course not. There are measures to take against the threats listed above. Software and hardware can be used to protect your computer system. Most importantly, perhaps, users can learn to behave in ways that reduce the risks of danger in using the Internet. With the right precautions and the right attitude, using the Internet can be a safe experience.
This unit, Internet Safety, is about identifying the dangers that the Internet can present, and addressing the techniques that can be used to make your Internet use a safe experience.
Before we look at any areas of potential threat in the Internet, let's get an idea of where you stand right now regarding Internet useage.