Do You Use Chat Rooms? Here’s What You NEED to Know

February 27, 2024

Introduction

Chat rooms can be a fun and convenient way to connect with friends, family, and people who share your interests. You can communicate in real time with people all around the globe, video and audio call, and keep the chat small or open it up to the general public!

Whenever you log into a chat room, however, you need to consider the potential risks to your cybersecurity and personal online safety that might be lurking inside those discussions boards.

When you’re interacting with other people online, you can never truly know who’s on the other side of the screen. It’s not just your personal information that you have to worry about, though; chat rooms can pose a threat to your cybersecurity, too!

Personal Online Safety

When the computers and the Internet first spread commercially, the ubiquitous advice was to keep your identity private. It’s still a good idea not to spread things like your name and home address around on the Internet, especially when you’re using chat rooms—where the point is to connect with like-minded people around the world, who enjoy the same hobby or movie or whatever the chat room’s subject may be, but whom you don’t know in real life.

In spaces like these, you shouldn’t spread private information that should only be shared with your real-life friends and family. When you’re online in a chat, make sure to…

  • Protect your privacy: Don’t share personal information, such as your full name, address, phone number, or school name. Be careful about what you share about your personal life with anyone in the chat. Even if you start messaging on a more secure platform, they’re still an Internet stranger.
  • Be mindful of who you’re talking to: Not everyone you meet online is who they say they are. Be cautious about trusting people you meet in chat rooms, and never give out personal information to someone you don’t know and trust.
  • Be respectful of others: Treat others in chat rooms with respect, even if you disagree with them. Avoid using offensive language or making personal attacks, which can be motivators for cybercriminals!
  • Report inappropriate behavior: If you see something in a chat room that is inappropriate, such as bullying, harassment, or threats of violence, report it to the chat room moderator or administrator. There should be security features in the platform which allow people with higher privileges to remove, mute and even ban offensive users.

What’s more, don’t believe that someone is who they say they are behind the screen! The prevalence of catfish is as old as the Internet itself.

Chats Versus Cybersecurity

How can you make sure to stay safe while still enjoying what chat rooms have to offer?

  • Use strong passwords: Create strong, unique passwords for all of your online accounts, including your chat room accounts. Avoid using easily guessable information, such as your name or birthday, in your passwords.
  • Beware of phishing scams: Phishing scams are attempts to trick you into revealing personal information, such as your passwords or credit card numbers. Be wary of any links or attachments in chat rooms, and never provide personal information to someone you don’t know and trust.
  • Keep your software up to date: As soon as new security updates are ready, you should immediately download the latest security patches to protect your operating system, web browser, and other software from vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.

Conclusion

There are all different kinds of chat rooms these days, from Discord to Messenger to Chat Roulette (R.I.P. Omegle). It’s important to use a reputable chatroom: Choose a chat room service that has a good reputation for security and privacy. Before you start chatting, read the chat room’s rules and guidelines too. Do they allow anyone to join? Are there policies or procedures in place for kicking out people who broke those rules? How do the administrators address disputes between members of the chat? If the guidelines condone misbehavior, find another group to join!

Stay cyber-secure and enjoy the web, and all the other users on it! By following these tips, you can help protect your cybersecurity and personal online safety while still enjoying everything that chat rooms have to offer.

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In addition to being knowledgeable, reliable and trustworthy, he’s very friendly and accessible. Would definitely use his services again.

Nyshie Perkinson

Senior Media Specialist, Center for Biological Diversity

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