The student news site of Seven Lakes High School

The Torch

Student news website
of Seven Lakes High School
The student news site of Seven Lakes High School

The Torch

The student news site of Seven Lakes High School

The Torch

You’ve Been Hacked

What You Should Know About Cybersecurity
Natalie Guske

From cute baby videos to tutorials in organic chemistry; recipes on how to how to make a homemade pumpkin spice latte to videos of acclaimed philanthropists giving away houses for free; google drives full of all the possible study materials for AP bio to shady websites to pirate movies off of, the internet is a gateway to virtually any information imaginable. However, although the internet is an amazing and helpful tool, it is also an incredibly dangerous place to navigate if you aren’t careful. In order to keep yourself and your personal information safe, consider the following information.

Going Viral

POV: You log into your email account one morning and see an email from an address you don’t recognize. Your curiosity gets the best of you and you decide to open it, finding a link that takes you to a website proclaiming that you are one of the select few who have won a brand new iphone 15. Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this is most likely a scam. By clicking on that link, more likely than not you have just invited some type of virus into your computer. Much like a fever can be an indicator that you may have the flu, computers infected by viruses can show symptoms of the infection such as having a lower performance rate, frequent “error” messages, and new applications appearing seemingly out of nowhere.

However, just because you might have accidentally downloaded a virus does not mean that your computer is destined for the junkyard. By downloading and running an antiviral software you can pinpoint the threats and take the necessary actions to resolve them as many of these programs will walk you through the solution. Regardless of whether you think your computer is infected with a virus or not, it is recommended that you install an antiviral program that performs a scan every so often so that if this scenario occurs and you do accidentally download a virus, it can alert you about the damage right away. Also, just taking a second to stop and think before clicking on a link could save you a lot of trouble in the long run. For instance, if the offer seems to good to be true, or the email is riddled with spelling errors, or if it includes requests for you to send your personal information, than it is most likely a phishing attempt by a criminal – phishing being the phenomena in which criminals try to get consumers to download some kind of malware on their device so that they can steal their personal information, something that, like viruses, can be easily avoided by sticking to secure websites/networks and not clicking on any suspicious looking links.

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WWW. What?

Generally speaking, there are three different layers to the web: the surface web, the deep web, and the dark web. A common analogy is to think of the web as an iceberg: the surface web being the tip of the iceberg, the deep web comprising the bulk of the iceberg, and the dark web referring to the bottom portion. The surface web is the part of the web that is easily accessible, including search engines such as Google and Yahoo. However, although the surface web surely contains a wealth of information, it only accounts for four percent of the internet. The greater submerged part of the iceberg is the deep web, containing approximately 90% of all websites in existence. Unlike the surface web, the deep web is typically inaccessible to the larger population, since these databases are unidentifiable by search engines and often hidden behind layers of security. However, most of these pages are perfectly safe and legal and would not pose a threat to your device. The reason behind why they are so hard to find is because they can contain sensitive information such as government documents, legal files, and medical documentation. 

Although the dark web is considered to be part of the deep web, it is considerably more concealed as well as dangerous. In order to access the dark web you would need to have special software such as the browser Tor that allows you to scour the dark web anonymously. However, although accessing the dark web is not necessarily illegal as one might think, a good deal of illegal activity is carried out on these platforms since, of course, hackers and criminals prefer to operate in the shadows. Some other disadvantages of scouring the dark web include the heightened presence of malware, the ever present threat of scams, and the possibility of becoming a government target just by merely accessing the dark web. Even if you don’t buy anything off of the dark web, you are still at a risk of the government finding out your identity, which could cause huge problems for you, depending on what country you are in and the type of government you are under. So although the deep/dark web might seem intriguing, they are not places to go exploring unprepared. Luckily, unless you are actively searching for them, these layers of the web are quite difficult to stumble upon.

Stranger Danger

More likely than not, you probably attended an assembly in elementary school or junior high where you were bombarded with warnings about interacting with strangers online. However, no matter how boring or redundant these speeches may have sounded, teens interacting with strangers online is a serious issue, especially when these strangers are not who they say they are and have malicious intentions.

In order to successfully avoid having contact with online predators, it is crucial to examine the facts and break down the behavioral patterns that predators will often follow in order to reach their intended audience. More often than not, child predators will frequent places where there is a high density of children or teens, such as online games like Roblox and social media platforms such as Instagram and Tik Tok. They will then scour the platform for accounts where kids have posted personal information about themselves such as personal photos, their gender, their age, and where they live. In order to build connections with their victims, these predators will do research into what their interests are and strike up conversations in order to build trust and the foundations of a “friendship.” As time goes on and the children/teens become more comfortable with their new “friend,” predators will gradually start to introduce more sexual content into the conversation including suggestive remarks or photos and videos. These predators will then narrow it down to what children they want to meet in person and you can probably guess what happens from there based on the numerous news reports covering these cases.

However, even though there are some frightening things and people out on the internet, this doesn’t mean that you should hole yourself in and rely on outdated encyclopedias to get your information from instead of conducting a Google search. Just like life outside of a computer screen, it is important to be aware of the situations you’re in and prepare accordingly, since you never know what could happen with the press of a button.


About the Contributor
Natalie Guske, Editor in Chief
Natalie Guske is a senior and this is her third year on the Torch staff. This is her first year of being an editor and she is very excited to continue to learn and write the stories of her peers in this new role. Outside of newspaper Natalie plays trumpet in the band and is also a part of Miller Career Center’s education program. While enjoying her final year of high school so far, Natalie is looking forward to college and plans on pursuing a degree in elementary education. When she’s not at school or band practice, Natalie enjoys spending time with her friends and family as well as curling up with a good book and a tasty snack.