Cyberbullying heightens: Are you on guard?

“The Police Cyber Unit received dozens of complaints from prominent individuals saying they were tired of paying millions to hackers who claimed to be in possession of their nudes.”

It is not fake news that sensitive graphic content often gets leaked when garnered by cruel characters. But how hard is it to draw the line between a real threat and the folk playing the hacker? You might have guessed right. It all depends on how you protect your personal information online, and how agile you report to the law enforcement authority before the situation escalates.

In a recent statement by Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Patrick Onyango, the Police Cyber Unit at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) received dozens of complaints (over 100 complaints) from prominent individuals saying they were tired of paying millions to hackers who claimed to be in possession of their nudes. Among the affected individuals were the corporates, business people, lawyers, doctors, and MPs claiming that unknown persons sent them photo-shopped photographs revealing them in compromising positions and a ransom thereof for not publishing the content on social media.

With gradually increasing volumes of Internet traffic, the Internet comes with lots of risks ranging from online predatory to cyberbullying and impersonation, much of which arise from revealing too much personal information on chatrooms and social media platforms. According to the online e-safety educational toolkit developed by National Information Technology Authority (NITA), in collaboration with the Internet Society Uganda, we learn that cyberbullying can now occur through a cell phone, a computer, or a webcam, and this is just as damaging as traditional bullying. Common forms of cyberbullying include cyberstalking, impersonation, photoshopping, physical threats, outing, rumour spreading and denigration.

Take hold of these quick tips to combat cyberbullying:

  1. Be discreet with what you share online. If your social media accounts are open to everyone, the perpetrator may be able to gather lots of information about you. Beware that what goes online, may stay online.
  2. Do not respond to rude and harassing e-mails, messages, and comments. You may have to be cautious of the content you create online, be it a text message, photo, or video.
  3. Keep a record of the harassment, including the date, time, and description of each call, message, text, or e-mail.
  4. Willingly seek for help in moments of crisis. Promptly report the behaviour to the Police, Internet Service Provider (such as MTN, Airtel, Africell, etc. ), a site administrator, or trusted adult. Early intervention will prevent far-reaching consequences such as low self-esteem, torment or suicide.
  5. Do not friend strangers. Block or ignore messages from unknown people you encounter for the first time online.
  6. Keep personal information private. Do not share credentials with friends. The child should only share with parents/guardians.
  7. Change your passwords often while making sure they are of good strength and not easily readable.

Will you be safe online?

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