What can we do to protect ourselves on-line?

Social media is used by all sorts of people in all sorts of settings. Laws are in place to regulate its use, yet criminal networks and hackers continue to threaten the security of users, as happened to a woman in Attapeu province last week.  Vientiane Times asked members of the public for their opinion on what we should do to protect ourselves in the on-line world.


Ms Phonthip Inthaphone, a student in Xaythany district, Vientiane:  Social media today is a lot like a big warehouse where you can go to trade ideas and information as well as meet new people. Social media often provides answers to questions I have, and through it I have gotten to know and become friends with many people. While there are advantages, there are also disadvantages with social media. Everyone needs to be aware of the risks involved with sharing personal information on-line.  No one should like or share information if uncertain whether it is fake or a phishing scam. People need to be careful with their passwords and bank details too.  Hackers use devious methods to get hold of sensitive information from people.

Ms Namsang Phanaloun, a resident of Pakngum district, Vientiane: These days, people depend on the internet and social media a lot. It has made communication faster, easier and cheaper, especially with regard to finding information, advertising, and making connections in business. On the other hand, if people are not careful, social media can be harmful. It would be good if authorities gave advice to the public about ways we can protect ourselves from cybercrime.  

Mr Anoulack, an official in Sisattanak district, Vientiane: I’m always hearing about people being hacked or information being stolen on the internet. Crime networks run rampant in the digital world.  Hackers search for weaknesses or vulnerabilities in a particular server network. When they penetrate a system they can gather valuable information and use it for blackmail or ransom.  Many businesses have had to pay money after being hacked. I think we should all learn how to protect our personal information and safety on-line. People should make sure they have good security software installed on their devices.  They should also make sure they manage their personal information carefully to prevent exposure to criminal networks. 

Ms Saengaloun Dedphachan, a worker in Oudomxay province: Social media is a big, online society and just like anywhere else it has both good and bad features. If a user is ignorant or lacks good judgment, it is very easy to be deceived on the internet. Revealing too much personal information, even with something simple like filling out a form, can lead to very nasty consequences. Identities have been stolen in the past, people have had their rights violated and have also lost lots of money. We need to be very careful how we use social media and the internet. We shouldn’t open any file, attachment or programme unless we are sure of its safety. We should also make sure we don’t store passwords and other personal information where it could be accessed by hackers.

Ms Pa Sihalath, a resident of Xaythany district, Vientiane: I don’t know very much about this issue. I use social media to contact my friends but not to post or share anything. I think it would be good if everyone understood the potential harm that can occur on-line.  People need to know how to protect their information. They also need to know which programmes or applications are best to help protect their devices from attack. I think the authorities should advise the public more about these things so that we can all be safer.     

By Lamphone Pasanthong
(Latest Update February 12, 2019)

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