As the Internet continues growing in popularity, cases of fraud such as piracy, identity theft, cyberbullying, or even threats are on the increase. Hackers and cybercriminals are on a constant lookout for sensitive personal information they can use for illegal activities, including your credit card information or passwords.
Hence, it’s easy to see that staying safe online is more important in our modern technology-driven world than ever before. But what is online safety after all? Simply put, it means that people protect themselves and others against any type of online risk and harm they may endure while being online. This includes every activity on any of your electronic devices that have access to the internet, such as your smartphone, computer, and tablet.
This article will give you some useful tips on how to stay safe online to eliminate the risk of being hacked or scammed while using the internet.
When surfing online, you can encounter many hard-to-see pitfalls. This is because cybercriminals very often use tempting or dubious content to make you click on something or give out your personal data. It takes only one reckless click, and you can infect your entire computer or mobile phone with malware or expose your sensitive data. Therefore, you should always pay attention to what you click on and try to browse safely. This includes that when you are looking for some information always rely on trusted sites. For example, if you want to know where you can find the best casino bonuses, check out the latest scam-free options before signing up to any gambling sites.
Secure Your Internet Connection
When you use a Wi-Fi connection in a public place, such as in a restaurant or at a hotel, you cannot directly control the connection’s security. Therefore, always make sure that the Wi-Fi network you are about to use is secure before connecting to it. However, if it’s not possible and you are in doubt about its security, it’s better to avoid sharing personal information, such as your credit card information or bank account number while using this public Wi-Fi connection.
Additionally, consider using a secure virtual private network (VPN) connection to improve your safety online. VPN ensures that you have a secure connection between your mobile device and the server. This way, nobody can access the data you share through the network.
Avoid Oversharing Personal Information on Social Media and Other Sites
Many people make a huge mistake by sharing a lot of personal information online. They have personal data like their date of birth, home address, relationship status, phone number, etc. published on their profile that millions of people can see. Perhaps you think that it’s not a big deal. But let’s show you through an example that it can lead to a real danger.
Imagine that your social media profile is filled with a lot of personal information, including your relationship status (let’s say you are single), home address, and landline number. Then when you go for a holiday to another country for 2 weeks, you even announce it to everyone on social media. If a thief saw your post, chances are that they would see a great opportunity to break into your house. Why? Because they know that you are out of the country for 2 weeks and you are single, so most likely nobody is at home.
Plus, they can even verify whether there is a house sitter in your home by simply calling the landline number you shared on your profile. Maybe this example is a little bit extreme but the chance of being robbed is there. Therefore, be careful about what information you hand out to your friends or strangers. For your own safety, limit the information you share online.
Check Your Social Media Privacy Settings
Besides keeping your shared personal information limited, it may be a good idea to check your social media privacy settings as well. Although sometimes these privacy settings are hard to find, be assured that it’s worth spending some time finding and enabling the privacy safeguards.
It’s completely up to you what you would like to share with your friends and what with strangers. Fortunately, very often you can even choose to fully hide certain information from everyone but you (for example, on Facebook).
Create Strong and Unique Passwords
While it may be tempting to choose passwords that are easy to remember, don’t forget that with this you just make it easier for cybercriminals to get access to your accounts. Avoid obvious passwords like “12345678” or “qwerty”. Rather create strong and unique passwords that are hard to guess. A good password contains at least 15 characters, both numbers and letters, maybe even special characters. Also, don’t use the same passwords everywhere.
If you find it difficult to keep in mind these strong passwords, there are some great and secure password manager software out there that can help you manage your passwords.
Don’t Store Your Private Information in Public Storages
For storing your private information, such as a list of your passwords or ID card scans, never use cloud storage or file-sharing software (for example, Google Docs, Dropbox). This is because this way, hackers can easily get access to your files, including your sensitive information.
Protect Yourself Against Malware by Using an Antivirus Program
An antivirus program can’t protect you and your devices against all threats, but they seem pretty much effective in detecting and removing most malware. Thus, make sure to use an antivirus program and also make sure to keep it up to date.
Don’t Believe Everything You See Online
Unfortunately, many people pretend to be someone else online. While some of them just want to look more attractive to others, hackers or criminals also love to create fake profiles and claim to be someone else to get close to you or steal money from you. Thus, be cautious with who you talk to online and what information you share with them.
Keep Your Kids Safe Online
If you have kids, make sure to educate them about the possible risks and dangers of the internet and try to supervise their online activities. Moreover, consider downloading a program on your electronic devices (or on your kids’ devices) that allows you to block every website and application that is not ideal or safe for your children.
The Bottom Line
Online safety is extremely important because internet usage has some real risks and dangers you should definitely look out for. You can encounter many issues from cyber attacks to identity thefts, thus be responsible when using the internet.