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We all know the importance of staying safe on the internet. With how much time we spend online these days, the threats are more significant and looming than ever. But how can we best keep safe online these days? On the modern internet, what should we look out for? Let’s take a look at some of our top tips on how to be safe when using the internet:
Table of Contents
Keep your antivirus current
The best way to be safe online is to simply not visit untrustworthy, dubious websites. However, failing that, your best line of defence is to keep your antivirus up to date. Whilst your antivirus can’t protect you from everything, it’s your best bet. You don’t have to go for an antivirus with all the bells and whistles - there are brilliant free options out there. Just make sure to download your software from a reputable source.
So, make sure to enable automatic updates for your antivirus program and your operating system’s bug fixes and security patches - these all provide vital security against potential internet threats.
Shop securely online
Every time you check out on an online storefront, you have to type in your bank account or card information. You can sometimes use another service, like PayPal, Google Pay, or Apple Pay. Indeed, these payment methods do provide another additional layer of security. But hacking is still possible with these methods.
When you shop online, check that the site you’re using has a secure, encrypted connection. Look in the address bar for a padlock or https:. This is a sure sign that the store is safe. However, just because the store offers secure payment doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check the store is genuine. If you aren’t shopping on a familiar site or through a big retailer, look for reviews on a site like TrustPilot to check if the site is genuine.
Keep your internet connection secure
When you go online in a public place like a coffee shop, though their network may have a password or captive portal, there’s just no guaranteeing how secure this is. Of course, you can always limit what you do on these networks - they should be safe enough for general browsing, and your password shouldn’t get uploaded or downloaded if you’ve already used “Remember me” on a more secure network. But if you want to protect yourself while out and about, it’s a good idea to use a VPN. These Virtual Private Networks work by setting up a secure connection, acting as the middleman between your phone or laptop and the internet. Again, you must be sure that you trust the VPN, as it will see and change all your data instead. But after you get a recommendation or check the reviews on a trustworthy app store, you should be good to go!
At home, you should choose secure internet, too. Then, the next time you update your package, compare the best plans and find modern, trustworthy internet.
You Won’t Believe How Many People Read These!
Have you heard of clickbait? This is the term for articles and pages that employ tools like capitalisation, shocking headlines, and one-time offers to lure people into a page that redirects endlessly until you finally end up with several viruses and your card details stolen. It’s easy to get sucked into dubious content when it seems interesting, or you think it may solve your problem. But it’s important to know how to spot the signs of an untrustworthy website. If an ad or page sports an offer that seems too good to be true, it promises to fill you in on a shocking headline, or it claims to fix a health issue with “one simple step”, it’s probably not real. So don’t be tempted to click on it!
Use your privacy settings
Your social media and browsing activity are attractive and valuable information to marketers, hackers, and social media giants. Your information can reveal good insights about the products and services you’d be interested in - this is why social media passes your information to other companies. It’s also one reason why hackers may try to steal it. But how much is too much? How much are you okay with being marketed to, and how much information do you want to produce? Your favourite social media sites offer at least some privacy settings for you, however complicated they may deliberately make it to find them. Look at these settings, and turn on the ones you want to use.
Limit access to your personal information
What information can people see on your social media profile? Can people see your address or your relationship status? Can only your friends see this, or is this information public? You should be careful about who can see what online. Limiting access to your personal information to just your friends is a suitable place to start, but you should also consider what you put up there. You never know when one of your friends’ accounts could be hacked. You should also be careful about what potential employers can see. Also, keep your work information separate from your private profiles.
Pick a strong password
The thing that is your first shield against hacking and cyber crime is also one of the internet’s major weak spots - passwords. But there’s no alternative to passwords, either. The main problem with passwords is people choose ones that are easy to remember. So your password should never just be a word like “password” or “hello” or anything else that’s easy to guess, like “123456”. The other problem is using the same password over and over. This password then only needs to get hacked once for you to get hacked everywhere potentially!
Multi-factor authentication, where, for example, a code is sent to your phone as well as using your password to log in, goes a little way in solving the problem. But the best thing to do is to have a unique password for every site. A password manager can help you do this. Password manager software will generate a unique password every time you create an account. It will then fill it in when you want to log in again.