As mentioned in our previous stories about getting back to the basics of online security and privacy, anyone who uses an internet-connected device can make a huge impact on their own cyber security, as well as the security of others. This story looks at ways you can be a good online citizen.

Being online today means more than simply surfing the web. What we do online has the potential to affect everyone—at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online behavior benefits the global digital community and helps ensure our online experiences are safe and positive.

Security researchers at Microsoft have seen such a close tie between our individual online personas and our susceptibility to cybercrime that they’ve recently identified 20 key cybersecurity risks that are directly tied to our “civility” as we interact online—these risks range from harassment to fraud to sexual solicitation.1 Here are a few key ideas to avoid cyber risks:

    • Live the golden rule. It applies online as well.

Treat others as you’d want to be treated. Act with empathy, compassion and kindness in every online interaction, and treat everyone you connect with online with dignity and respect.

    • Respect differences.

Strive to appreciate differences and honor diverse perspectives. When disagreeing with someone online, remember to engage thoughtfully and avoid name calling or personal attacks.

    • Pause before replying.

Pause and think before responding to things that you may disagree with online. Don’t post or send anything that could hurt someone else, damage someone’s reputation or threaten your safety or the safety of others.

    • Stand up for yourself and for others.

Tell someone when you feel unsafe with an online interaction and offer support to those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty. Report activity that threatens anyone’s safety and remember to preserve evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behavior. The FBI has established the Internet Crime Complaint Center for the easy reporting of cybercrime. Visit their site at to make a report or contact local law enforcement.Finally, if you become the victim of an online digital civility crime such as harassment, stalking or cyberbullying, take action to protect yourself:

      • Block the other party.
      • Report the incident to social media sites or internet providers. Often this type of behavior violates their terms of use that all service users must abide by.
      • Report the incident to law enforcement if you feel unsafe, if there were threats of violence or the interaction may be considered stalking or a hate crime.
      • Call 911 if you or someone else is in immediate danger.

For more information about being a good online citizen and how doing so helps keep you secure, visit Microsoft’s Safer Online site, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s site, NetSmartz.