Reliable information and online safety
In an emergency or crisis, access to accurate information is particularly important
The best way to shield against false information is source criticism:
- Is the information fact or opinion?
- Who is the information coming from? Who is the original author?
- Is the original author a credible expert on the subject?
- For what purpose was the information published? Was it published in a way that is intended to evoke strong emotions or otherwise aimed at creating a strong reaction or motivating people to share it?
- Can the information be verified from another source?
- Is the information new or outdated, and why is it being spread right now?
What can you do?
- Search for information – the best way to find accurate information is to compare sources.
- Don’t believe rumours – use many credible sources to check if the information is true.
- Don’t spread rumours – if the information does not seem credible, don’t pass it on. Be especially critical of news published on obscure websites and claims based on second-hand information.
How can you be sure photos and videos are authentic?
- Where does the source claim the photo/video is from?
- Could the person who took the photo/video actually have been there?
- Does the photo/video show possible signs of tampering, such as visual elements that stand out from the rest or something that does not fit with what is claimed to have happened?
- Check if the photo or a screenshot from the video has been published previously using tools such as Google’s reverse image search function or TinEye image search.
Communication in a disruption
The information society relies on electricity, ICT technology and information networks. A power outage will rapidly impact everyday life. It is important to get reliable information during a disruption — however, many media platforms require electricity to operate. Telephone networks are designed to operate on battery power for a couple of hours, at most, during power outages.
For communication, you need:
- a battery-powered radio and spare batteries
- a phone with charge
- a fully charged backup power source to charge your phone
Where can you get information?
- As long as the telecommunication networks operate and batteries have power, it is possible to seek information from online sources.
- Reliable sources of information include, among others, the channels of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) and the communication channels of municipalities, electric companies and water companies.
- Download the 112 Suomi mobile application to your phone. All public warnings and notifications are transmitted to the application. Remember to allow the app to use your location to receive notifications.
Computer security includes issues such as data encryption and backup and the use of firewalls, antivirus software and website certificates.
A secure connection is a prerequisite for safe Internet access
- Using a wired connection or mobile data on your personal phone are usually the most secure ways of connecting to the Internet.
- Do not use unsecure networks, such as public Wi-Fi that can be accessed without a password.
- If necessary, you can make your network connection more secure by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). If you are using your phone as a wireless hotspot for your computer, remember to run the VPN software on your computer, not your phone.
Safe logins and downloads
- Only log in to services and applications using a secure network connection. Ensure that any websites you are about to log in to use SSL encryption by checking that the web address starts with “https” and has a padlock icon next to it.
- Use two-step verification on all web services and applications that offer it.
- Enable login notifications on web services and applications. This will let you know if someone else has logged in using your username and password.
- Always check that the login page of the web service you are using has the correct web address. An incorrect address is a sign of a phishing website.
- If you receive an unsolicited link to a page that prompts you to log in, it is likely a phishing website.
- Do not download or open unsolicited email attachments. This will help you avoid malware and viruses.
- Only download and install software from websites you know to be trustworthy. This will help you avoid malware and scam programs.
- Ensure you have the latest updates to your operating system, programs and applications installed – they often patch critical security vulnerabilities.
- Back up your important data and files on a cloud service or another device. This way you can restore them if your usual device breaks down or is infected by malware.
What is a secure password?
- Do not use the same password across different services.
- The longer the password, the more secure it is. Use more than 8 characters. Use both upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.
- A good password is easy to remember but hard to guess. For example, important dates or names of children, pets or sports clubs make for weak passwords.
- Full sentences make good passwords – as long as they are not popular quotes or expressions.
- Spelling errors, dialect, slang and other grammatical errors strengthen the password.
- If you find it difficult to come up with and remember many different passwords, you can use password management software.
- Put in extra effort for important passwords that you use to recover forgotten passwords, such as your email password.
- Never tell anyone your passwords. Not even the authorities will ask for your password!
Protect your money
- Only make online payments over a secure Internet connection.
- Use reputable websites when shopping online.
- Do not click on links in email ads. Move to the site by typing the address directly in your browser’s address bar.
- Use a credit card for online shopping whenever possible. If you have paid by credit card and the goods do not arrive, you can reclaim your money directly from the credit card provider.
Protect your information on social media
- Do not share your personal data or other important information online. They can be used to break into data systems and perform identity theft.
- Avoid sharing your location on social media. This way, criminals cannot learn that your home is empty and unattended.
- Stolen accounts are often used to spread scams, subscription traps and phishing messages on social media. If you receive a suspicious message from a friend’s account, check with that friend to make sure it came from them.
Children’s safety online
- Talk with your child about what applications and web services they should and should not use. Take an interest in the websites your child visits.
- Make time for a conversation with your child about online safety. This way, you can learn if your child is puzzled or worried about something online.
- Tell your child about online and offline safety.
- For example, make sure they know that giving information like their phone number, name or address or sending pictures of themselves to a stranger is not safe.
- Agree on shared ground rules concerning electronic devices and web browsing.
Read more about improving your own cybersecurity on the Finnish National Cyber Security Center’s website.