By Michael Conley
Your internet security is something that must be constantly kept under control, but unfortunately for us, this is no easy task. As time goes by, cybercriminals are finding more and more ways to slither their way into our devices and get a hold of our personal information, which is not an encouraging thought.
Thankfully, with some light research and caution, we can avoid much of internet’s threats and browse the web safely, which is why we will provide you with some tips on how to do it right. These are simple rules of conduct to follow and once you get the hang of it, you’ll see that staying secure online doesn’t have to be hard work.
Careful with your download
One of the greatest culprits for infecting your computers and mobile device with malware and viruses are downloads from untrusted sources. Sometimes we really want to get our hands on that new book or the movie we have to watch as soon as possible and we don’t really think too much about how safe the download is. Our recklessness is what hackers are counting on, which is why you should always take extra time to be sure that the website you’re using for downloading is trusted.
One more thing to be careful about are extra downloads – those pesky add ons and additional software that come with free programs. The best way to keep these nuisances at bay is to always choose “custom installation” when you download a program, that way you can handpick what you’re installing on your device. If you want to download something from a website you’re not sure is safe, you can simply google the site for scams and see what kind of results you get.
Steer clear from online scams
One would think online scams can be spotted from a mile away these days, but as we have learned not to fall for them, cybercriminals have developed new ways to lure us into their nets.
Popups can be found in every corner of the World Wide Web, but that doesn’t mean that you should click on them… under any circumstances… ever. Email accounts are particularly susceptible to scams, so when you see that you’ve won four million dollars or that someone’s asking you to transfer some money to gain ten times more immediately delete the email and repeat this action every time something similar shows up.
The same goes for emails that contain links, which are clearly not a website address. One other useful piece of advice is to never open email attachments, unless you know that someone’s supposed to send you something. One click is enough to infect your system with spyware or any other form of malware that can cause many, many problems before you get rid of it.
Don’t overshare on social networks?
Information is our most valuable possession, but people seem to have forgotten this since the age of social media has taken full sway. If you like to share a lot about your private life on your social media accounts, we urge you to stop momentarily, because you’re practically letting the criminals simply walk into your life.
So much of our daily routine is done online, and if anybody can learn your phone number, your address and when you’re going on a vacation, then you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Not only do you risk identity theft, but you’re enabling hackers to get a hold of your confidential details like your physical location, bank account information etc.
You should keep what you post on social media strictly in check and what’s more, it would probably be wise to keep your IP address hidden as well, and you can do that by using onion routing, a virtual private network or proxies.
If you want your privacy to stay intact, then you should take some serious precautions, because you can be sure that hackers will do all they can to earn a quick buck off of you.
Secure connections on websites
If you’re buying something online or you’re giving away some other form of sensitive information, double-check that the connection to that website is secure. You can do this easily by taking a closer look at the URLs of the site – if they’ve got extra protection to secure your credit card info for example, you will see that the URL begins with https instead of just http.
This is a clear sign that all your data is encrypted and no one can get a hold of them. Also, look for the golden lock that can usually be found at the bottom of the page, which shows that both the website and connection to it are safe to use.
Finding a safe path through sometimes rough waters of the World Wide Web can present somewhat of a challenge but it is more than doable. With some practice and understanding what kind of threats are out there, you can quickly learn how to browse safely through the web.
Michael Conley is a digital security specialist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a writer at 9to5alternatives.com. When not at work, he enjoys watching old movies and shooting pool with his friends.