The other sides of the internet
Nathan Cabello (The Freeman) - September 1, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines – The recent news of pyramiding scams perpetrated via the internet brings to mind certain concerns about this modern day communications platform. While there's no question about the internet's many benefits, there are also 'other sides' to it to be wary about. There are potential dangers that counter the benefits.

The scary thing is that internet users tend to overlook the risks that going online entails. To a good degree, people seem to take internet information as solid fact or truth. Which is not so, because, for example, while there are many 'sites' that offer reliable content, there's also an equivalent number that only aims to take advantage of the naivety of 'visitors'.

In this light, it goes without saying that one needs to be very careful when dealing with the internet. Like with any new technology, the internet poses potential hazards that need to be dealt with utmost care and discretion. Even with internet surfing that is done merely for entertainment, the same prudence is required - otherwise the internet user may fall prey to any of the risks that lurk in cyberspace.

The website lists the common internet risks to watch out for:

Viruses, Ad Wares and Spywares

Viruses are programs that have the capacity to copy themselves and infect computers without the knowledge of the user. These can insert themselves into the computer programs and delete them, crash the computer or format it. Other forms of viruses can be less threatening but can still create problems to the user since they can appear to show messages every now and then that can use computer memory and freeze the computer and generally create problems that would make the user unable to work properly on the computer.  Viruses transfer to an uninfected computer through emails, instant messaging programs, and websites or file sharing.

Similar to viruses are the adware and spyware programs. Ad wares are small programs that can be downloaded through several other programs and websites that collect data from a person's computer with purposes of advertising and researching. Spywares are some other form of programs that insert themselves on the computer and monitor the usage and take up computer memory resulting in the lowering of the normal performance of the computer.

Scam Emails

Another risk of online use can be found in emails - scam emails. These emails can be very dangerous. Scam emails are emails that someone sends intentionally, with the purpose of deceiving people into giving important information regarding their bank accounts and passwords. The senders often make the emails appear as coming from one's bank or from a legitimate source, and ask for personal information, personal identification numbers or passwords with the intention of taking money off people's bank deposits.

Other emails present themselves as advisories for winning in some kind of lottery and take the unsuspecting addressee through a process to receive the price. Eventually, the sender ends up taking a lot of money from the addressee supposedly for expenses in claiming the big prize. Scam emails are a real threat that internet users should be really careful about.

The Invisible Enemy

Social networking sites and internet chatrooms are the number one cause of losing anonymity and human deception. On social networking sites, people use their pictures and create a profile of them. Some people are being honest and may really give their true identity, but others can provide fake information and deceive people. Some of the people on these sites and chatrooms may be criminals that are out there looking for victims.

Most of the times, however, the deceivers are simply people who do not feel confident about themselves and present their profile as they wish they were. When the eventual face-to-face meeting comes - especially when faceless romance is involved - the moment of truth may only get the parties involved disappointed and hurt.

As social networking sites allow for photos of their members to be uploaded, for those who put real photos, anonymity is gone. From the minute these photos appear on the web, anyone can take them and use them in every way they may like. This can create serious problems.

Internet Crime

The most serious form of risk one can face on the internet is crime. Child pornography and pedophilia are examples of internet crime. Mentally disturbed individuals are seen to abuse children and take pictures and videos with them and then publish these on the internet. The anonymity that most of the times the internet brings gives perverts a venue for living out their dark fantasies. Child pornography and pedophilia are serious crimes, and parents need to deal with this risk seriously by monitoring their children's online activities.

Unabated internet use is addictive. This has become a common problem, especially among young people. Addicted internet users spend long times online and still want more and more, ending up losing their social cycle, their friends and their real life.

Excessive internet use can also result in physical problems such as headaches and bone aches. And being cut off from one's normal social cycle of friends and by not wanting to go out and have some exercise and actual fun, the addiction can seriously affect a person's mental health. The internet addict's capacity to live life properly is diminished.

Thus, as with anything, drawing limits on one's internet use is important. And every time one goes online, he or she should be ever conscious of the potential risks.

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