The Internet can be a wild and scary place, but Fandom is something of an oasis for many of us. It's generally a friendly, open, and safe place to be, with people working together to build something great! But it's still important to look after your security wherever you are online and to be sure that you stay safe as you surf.
Did you know that one of the most common passwords used online is "password"? If that's the one you have chosen for your account – time to change it now!
It's very important that you choose your password carefully and keep it private. On Fandom, Staff have some tools to help if your account is stolen, but there is always the possibility that if your account is hacked you will need to create a new one. To avoid this, we recommend the following to create a secure password:
- Don't use something too easily guessed – especially single words like "dragon" or simple patterns like "qwerty" or "12345".
- Don't use a password that relates to things known about you, such as your pet's name, your favorite sport, your username, or favorite color.
- Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Or use a "pass phrase" - three or more random words separated by spaces.
- Don't share your password, ever, not even with a close friend. Staff can't see your password and will never ask you what it is.
- Don't use the same password on many sites. If it gets stolen from one site, all your other accounts might become vulnerable as well.
- And finally, take care not to enter your Fandom password anywhere other than on Fandom. If you visit a site that asks you to enter your Fandom password (for example, to link your account on another wiki) then you are giving full access to your account to someone outside of Fandom – definitely not a wise thing to do!
Stay up to date
It's important to take care of your computer to ensure it's as secure as possible. Browser and operating system updates often include security changes, so make sure you update regularly.
Updated anti-malware software is even more important. Security problems are often related to malware attacks, so be sure that you have reputable and up-to-date protection.
Another thing to think about is how much personal information you share online.
Some sites will allow you to reclaim a password by answering some personal questions about yourself. For example, they might ask you for your pet's name or what town you were born in. This is very convenient if you have forgotten your password, but if you list personal information on your profile, and use the same information for your security questions on another site, then they aren't very secure! It's important to think about what information is out there and what can be used.
Remember, think carefully about sharing information; it's always OK to say, "I don't feel comfortable sharing that" or "I don't give out my legal name", even to people you feel close to online.
Don't believe everyone
Always keep in mind that the person you are talking to might not be who they say they are. That doesn't mean you have to think that everyone is lying, but don't let your belief in someone stop you from taking sensible precautions like keeping your private information to yourself.
There are other reasons to keep your personal information private. If you share too much, it could be used to steal your identity for fraud. It's surprisingly common for people to apply for loans or accounts with someone else's name – and all that's needed is a few key pieces of information.
It is also good practice to avoid clicking random links that you are unfamiliar with, as they could take you to an unknown destination with disturbing content or even a potentially malicious site containing malware or other problems.
As well as the risks of personal information being used for fraud or to break into your account, there are other risks in sharing too much or being too trusting. Even when you are friends with someone you know on a site, it's possible that they aren't who they seem. The good news is that it's easy to defend yourself against this, and your best defense is your own good sense.
Remember, it's always your choice whether to interact with someone, and you have no obligation to share anything private or click any links. If someone makes you uncomfortable, tries to get you to share or do things you don't want to, you should simply ignore them.
By staying smart from the start, you will not only have fun online, but also remain safe.
Speak up if you are worried
If you feel unsafe because of anyone online, you should report this to your local authorities. If you feel you are at immediate risk, then call 911 or your local equivalent. If you are under 18, you should talk to a parent or other responsible (and offline) adult such as a teacher or school counselor. You can also report problems to cybertipline or the Virtual Global Taskforce. And, of course, you can also let Fandom staff know via the contact form.
You can be in control of your online life. No one can make you have a conversation or online experience that you don't want to. You can block people from a wiki if you are an administrator. You can ignore disturbing PMs or message wall posts, refuse to be affected by mean posts, and take control and refuse to be pulled into negative situations.
One of the important skills to learn online is the power to ignore. Nasty comments are intended to hurt, and the sender wants to know you are hurt, so if you ignore the comment and refuse to react to it in any way, you are doing exactly what the bully doesn't want. That's a powerful response.
Of course, for this to work you need to also learn to let insults go by without hurting you. Remember, you are strong, and you can choose to ignore those insults. They are not about reality, they are just about someone trying to make you feel bad. Don't let them!