The internet is a wonderful resource, and we are lucky and privileged to have it. Imagine living your day to day life without access to the world wide web, and you will realize just how much you use it, and even rely on it, for everyday things.
However, just because we use it a lot and it is always there for us, constantly being updated and improved, that doesn’t mean that it is completely safe, or that we should be blasé about using it. There are many unscrupulous people out there who will try to steal from you or otherwise disrupt your life when you go online. Here are some useful safety tips so that you can browse in peace.
Limit Personal Information
Thanks to social media, it is extremely easy to put a lot of information – seemingly harmless – out onto the internet. The problem is, as harmless as this may feel to you, for those who are looking to cause harm, to steal money, or to infect a computer, the more information they can find out about someone the easier this illegality becomes.
Think about what you really want online; what would you not mind strangers knowing? You wouldn’t, for example, broadcast your address and private phone number to millions of people, but if you put it online anywhere, that is exactly what you are doing. Keep the information you post online as general and private as possible. Check your privacy settings and always think before you post anything.
Hackers and marketers will all want to know as much about you as possible; one for nefarious reasons and the other to sell to you. If neither of these things appeals, look at your privacy settings. Social media might be what springs to mind first, and that is an easy fix to make; rather than having a Facebook profile that anyone can look at, make it as private as possible.
Did you know, however, that web browsers and IOS also have privacy settings that you can control? They are sometimes difficult to find, but if you look at your settings, you should be able to see how to make all of your profiles more private. If you really can’t find the answer, try typing your query into a search engine, as someone somewhere will know what to do.
Use A Credit Card
Buying items online is one of the best advances that technology has made with regards to the internet. It is so easy and convenient, but this can make us forget that it is also potentially unsafe. Your bank details and card information, as well as your address and name details, can be discovered by those who really want to know.
Using a credit card is a good way to remain safe. If someone were to hack into your details and use your card number, your money in your bank account would not be touched, and your credit card provider would be able to refund your balance through insurance. This can make a big difference in the amount of disruption such a theft could make in your life.
It is important to remember that if you are using a credit card in this way, it will need to be paid off at the end of each month. This way, you won’t fall into debt. Make sure that you calculate everything properly before going ahead with one though – get yourself an interest calculator ( like this one from Sofi https://www.sofi.com/
Only Use Legitimate Sites
Although hackers and cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated in the methods they use, there are stills ways to determine whether or not a site you intend to use is legitimate.
Make sure, for example, that if you are on an e-commerce site that the URL begins with https, rather than simply http. This means that it is a secure site, and should be safe for shopping on. Also, look out for spelling mistakes in the URL – the domain name might look like a more well-known website, but one letter different and you might accidentally stumble on an unsafe site and not notice.
Are You Using A Secure Connection?
If you are using your own home wifi connection, it is likely to be safe and secure (although this is not always the case, and you should still be careful). However, when you are using a public network, there is much more chance of being hacked or someone being able to spy on your every online move.
If you do need to connect to the public wifi, only use it for general browsing. Don’t do any internet banking, for example, or log into any site as your password might be stolen. Standard browsing should be safe enough on a public network as you aren’t giving away any important personal information.
Beware of Downloads
One of the joys of the internet is finding items to download that you need. Programs and apps can enhance your computing experience, for example. However, these are also the ideal place to hide viruses and other malware that can track your keystrokes and discover your passwords and other information.
If you do want to download something, make sure you always do so from a legitimate source. Even if you have to pay for the download, this is far better than looking for a free version and downloading a lot more than you bargained for.
Choose Strong Passwords
Your password is your best line of defense against cybercriminals, and that means you need to have a strong one that cannot easily be guessed. Ideally, you should have a random string of letters, numbers, and symbols, but this can cause a problem in that you will find it hard to remember. Even if you can’t make it entirely random, make sure that it is going to be hard to guess. Never use important dates, names, or addresses, for example, as these will be the first pieces of information a hacker will try.