20 Basic Internet Safety Tips Everyone Should Follow

20 Basic Internet Safety Tips Everyone Should Follow

If you're an internet user, you should be concerned about your online security so you don't become the victim of an internet attack.

While the internet improves our lives on so many levels from allowing us to stay connected with our friends and family and making shopping a breeze to providing us with all the information we need in an instant, it also has it's darker sides.

Because we use the online world for everything nowadays, our devices hold a lot of private information about us. From our online activity, browsing history, online habits, the locations we've visited, to accounts credentials and banking information. Your smartphone and PC store maybe more data about you than you might think. And even some companies know everything about you, one example being Google.

With this in mind, there's no wonder hackers and criminals take advantage of the time people spend online to steal their private information and use it for their own gains.

The online threats we are subjected to on a daily basis vary from having our devices exposed to viruses and malware to becoming the victim of identity theft and having our money stolen.

In this post, we share with you the basic internet safety tips you should follow so you keep yourself, your family, and your children safe in the online world.

1. Limit personal information sharing

One of the most important internet safety tips is to always be aware of the personal information you share across the internet. This information includes things such as phone numbers, addresses, birth date, and emails. Posting this kind of information online makes you more subjective to become the victim of an attack because the more a cybercriminal knows about you, the easier it is for him to exploit and hack into your accounts and steal even more data.

Review your social media accounts and make sure you haven't let any private information public for anyone to see. Also, never share private information with strangers across the internet. if someone doesn't know you personally, there's no need for them to learn such sensitive aspects about your life.

2. Manage your privacy settings

Advertising companies try to learn as much about users as possible. And so do hackers. Almost every platform you visit online collects some amount of data about your online browsing and history. And, with enough data, they are able to create a complex profile about you and even predict your future actions based on what they learn. While most companies gather data about users with the goal of improving their services and being able to display personalized suggestions, if this data falls in the wrong hands it can put your internet safety at risk.

You have the option of managing what information to share with the websites you access. To protect your privacy online, review the settings in the web browsers you're using. Also, most platforms, including social media sites such as Facebook, have settings that allow you to enhance your privacy and limit the amount of data they collect.

3. Secure your internet connection

A weak WiFi network can make it easy for a hacker to gain control over your computer and steal your personal information. It's essential for any internet user to learn how to secure their internet connection so there are no vulnerabilities left for cybercriminals to exploit.

The first step into securing your network is to make sure you're not using the default login credential that came with the router as they are usually the same for every user. Make sure you change the network's name and us a strong password to keep anyone away from guessing it.

4. Be aware of phishing scams

When it comes to online security, phishing scams are one of the most common threats. It's important to be aware of them so you know how to prevent them in the future. Thorough phishing scams, cybercriminals are tricking people into providing personal information which will be used to steal one's identity, banking information, or money.

Phishing attacks are risky because, through this technique, hackers rely on gaining the trust of its victims in order to steal sensitive information. The most common ways in which attackers collect private information is through sending fake emails, designed to look as coming from trustworthy sources. These emails contain malicious links an attachments. Needless to say, if you follow the link and provide the information they require, the attacker will have access to your accounts. Same goes with downloading the attachments and opening them - your computer will get infected with malware and the hacker will get access to your computer.

5. Be mindful of what you download

A crucial step for improved internet safety is to always think twice before you download something from the internet. Do you trust the source? Is it something suspicious about the file? Before you go run downloading the latest piece of software after a quick search on Google, make sure the website you're downloading from in secured and can be trusted. The internet is full of downloadable media and files that contain malware. And, once you open and install them on your computer, hackers are free to take control of your device and steal your data.

6. Teach your kids about cyberbullying

Bullies have been around forever and the internet only gave them another way to manifest their actions. Cyberbullying is no something to be taken lightly as it can have serious emotional consequences on children. To keep your children safe from becoming a victim of cyberbullying, it's important to talk to them about it and teach them not to engage in conversations with strangers online and to keep the things they share online at a minimum.

7. Strengthen your passwords

Weak passwords pose a risk for your internet safety as they make it easy for criminals to hack into your accounts and get access to your private information. There are a couple of rules you should follow when creating passwords so you make sure your accounts are protected. First of all, never use the same password for multiple accounts. Secondly, a strong password is hard to guess. This means using over 10 characters, using a combination of low case and upper case letters, and including special characters. Also, you should always avoid using information such as your birthday, your mother's or pets' name as they are easy to find online by anyone.

To make it easy to manage multiple passwords, there are apps designed for this purpose called password managers.

8. Only shop from secure websites

As easy as online shopping makes it for us to have merchandise delivered directly at our doors, it can also put or credit card credentials, and our money, at the risk of being stolen. If the website is not secure, especially during payment processes, it's the perfect environment for hackers to steal your private data and money. So make sure the online shops you visit use an HTTPS connection. Also, you should look for reviews from other customers to make sure the shop is genuine and avoid using the website if you notice something shady.

9. Beware in-app purchases

You can find a lot of fun and interesting free apps in the apps market stores. But, before you know it, you might find yourself upgrading in-game accessories or purchasing extra items without even realizing you paid real money. This is a risk children are more prone to. To avoid you or your kids spending money in apps by mistake, you can remove the ability for in-app purchases on all mobile or tablets by accessing the store's settings.

10. Revise the permission you allow to apps

Not all the apps on the App Store are legit and safe to use. Some of them require more permissions than they might realistically need (accessing your location, camera, microphone), which means there might be something off about them, such as containing malware. Before you agree to the permission an app requires, first ask yourself if it makes sense for that app to need that information. Google Maps might need your location o give you the best recommendation, but a mindfulness app has no reason to be curious about your whereabouts.

11. Don't click on everything

The internet is full of baits, trying to lure users into clicking links that will get them to malicious websites or that will download malware on their computers. the best examples of malicious links you should avoid clicking at all costs are pop-ups. Whenever you see a pop-up, you should immediately leave the website as pop-ups are often infected with malware.

12. Be careful with social media posts

In the online world, there's no "undo" button. once you post something online, it will live there forever. You might be able to delete the original post, but you have no control over all the copies other people might've made. You should always think twice before you post something on social media (or any other site). If you don't want your employee or your mother to see it, it might not belong online. An embarrassing post can come back to haunt you even after years have passed by.

13. Protect yourself on public WiFi

Public WiFi networks are the most dangerous when it comes to internet safety. They are not secure and cybercriminals can easily hack into the networks and steal private information from anyone who connects its device to access the internet. Public WiFis should never be used for sensitive activities such as connecting to accounts, online shopping, checking bank accounts, or any other money transactions. If you're often using public WiFi, you can protect yourself against having your private data stolen by using a VPN service.

14. Don't trust everyone online

Not everybody is who they claim to be online. Actually, it's a common practice for hackers and cybercriminals to set up fake social media accounts so they can trick people into giving private information and even money. So be aware of who you meet and trust online and don't share sensitive information with people you don't personally know.

15. Revise your accounts

We often set up accounts on platforms only to use them for a short period of time and then completely abandon them. These unused accounts are a rich source of information for hackers. Think about where you might've created accounts and close them if you don't plan to use them anymore in the future.

16. Use a firewall

A firewall acts as a shield between your computer and the internet. It analyzes all the outgoing and ongoing traffic and decides which data packets comply with a set of security rules and only lets in the packets that are safe to communicate with your computer. Even if a firewall can't prevent your computer from getting infected with malware if you click on a malicious attachment in an email, for example, it still adds an important layer of protection to your internet safety. Most operating systems have built-in firewalls so all you have to do is enable and configure them properly.

17. Update your antivirus software

It's needless to say that you should never run your computer without antivirus software installed as it is highly important for internet safety. If you happen to download a file from the internet that contains malware, the antivirus will scan it, detect the malware, and will remove it before it gets to harm your computer and compromise your security. Because new malware is created on a regular basis, it's crucial for your antivirus to always be up to date. Even if your program automatically updates, it doesn't hurt if you also manually update it regularly.

18. Strengthen your online security

Besides using common sense when browsing online and applying the little tips to protect yourself online, you should also take advantage of the tools designed with the purpose of strengthening your online security. The best online security protection is not about using the one right tool. It's more about finding the perfect combination of tools that complement each other's strengths and vulnerabilities. The three pieces of software for the highest level of protection are - firewall, antivirus, and VPN. The firewall shields your computer against malicious traffic, the antivirus prevents your computer from being infected with malware, and the VPN protects your online activities and private data from hackers.

19. Secure your smartphone

When you hear about internet safety, the first thing that comes to mind is to secure your PC or laptop. But your smartphone holds the same level of private information, if not more, So it's highly important you secure it properly. The first step is to always protect your smartphone by using one authentication method. Secondly, you should always be cautious with the apps you install as they might infect your device with malware, especially on Android devices.

20. Back up your data

There are different types of malware that can put your data and files at risk. The most common such type of malware is called ransomware. Through ransomware, criminals will encrypt all the data on your device and you won't be able to access it again unless you pay the attacker a certain amount of money. To make sure you don't lose any important data in case of a malware attack, keep your files backed up in cloud storage or on an external hard drive.

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