In our modern times, we rely heavily on the internet. In fact, even businesses use the internet to build their brand and reach out to customers. The widespread use of the internet has created plenty of opportunities too. There are freelancing jobs, and employees can even work from the comfort of their homes.
Aside from using the internet for business and work, people enjoy staying online due to social media and entertainment. In 2020, the average time spent on social media was 145 minutes a day.
As people continue to browse online and have access to the latest technology, the number of users is not definitely going to decrease. With that being said, hackers, scammers, and cybercriminals are given more opportunities.
The digital world may be an excellent place that brings opportunity for businesses and individuals, but it can also harbor malicious content.
Personal information and activities become unsafe online. Hackers will steal valuable information to benefit their needs. They can either use the information for a personal reason or sell it to the dark web.
Therefore, practicing online safety tips is crucial for everyone. Whether you use the internet for social media or business purposes, keeping your activities and information private is valuable.
How to Stay Safe Online
Avoid Sharing Personal Information
Although personal details like credit card numbers, social security, and passwords are crucial information that shouldn’t be shared, it shouldn’t be limited to that. Even details like relationship status, favorite food, and pet name shouldn’t be shared online.
Hackers will use these details to answer security questions or guess your password.
Also, posting any information online can be harmful in the future. Even though it has been deleted, anything shared online will exist even after. That’s why make sure that what you share will not affect your future employment since some employers do professional background checks.
Use Strong Password
Passwords are the gatekeeper of all accounts and even devices. Using strong and complex passwords can keep hackers from accessing accounts. It will take hackers the time to guess the password, as compared to simple ones.
There are tools that hackers use to decipher a password, but it takes months or years when they want to crack a complicated password.
Complicated passwords are difficult to remember, but there are software programs that can help store complex passwords. It can also autofill login credentials. These software programs are Password Managers.
Characteristics of Strong Passwords:
- Should be more than 12 characters
- Combination of upper and lower cases
- Include numbers and symbols
- Should not be a personal information
- Not found in the dictionary
- Do not use a sequence of letters and numbers
Keep Network Connection Secure
Using a secured network can keep hackers away from spying on your activities and data. Work and home networks are protected with a password. However, what if you are using public Wi-Fi?
Public or free Wi-Fi is often the place where cyber criminals spy on users. They either try to spoof a fake connection or have access to free Wi-Fi.
As much as possible, don’t connect to unsecured Wi-Fi. Instead, use mobile data. However, if you need to connect, use a VPN.
VPN or Virtual Private Network is a technology used to secure connections by creating tunnels and using different IP addresses. It can protect the user from third parties and ISPs. Anyone who tries to view your data will not understand the content.
Update Software and System
Keeping your software, browser, application, system, and device updated can help avoid the chances of malware entering your device.
Most often, out-of-date software is used by hackers as their gateway to enter and deploy malicious attacks. Updating your software can patch those bugs and code issues. Also, updates provide the latest feature.
Invest in the Best Cybersecurity Software
Antivirus and internet security software provides an extra layer of protection. It can secure email, internet activities, computer performance, blocking of malware, and more.
You can find plenty of security software available online, but be careful when you download them. Some malware masquerades as antivirus software. Better yet, only purchase on trusted websites or online retailers.
We offer the best antivirus software in our online shop such as Vipre Antivirus.
Careful What You Download
As mentioned earlier, you need to take precautions when downloading an antivirus software program or anything online. Viruses and malware are hidden in free software or files. That’s why using antivirus software can scan and detect them.
Sometimes, they can also be attached to emails. So, make sure to scan your email or check on the email you have received.
Be Careful of Suspicious Online Links
When opening an email or message, never click on the link provided. Phishing websites are often the reason why data breach occurs.
Some links should often be avoided, as they can lead to harmful websites. Some links are from emails, clickbait, online quizzes, free offers, and unsolicited ads.
In case you clicked on a suspicious link, you need to check on the website. See if the text content of the site and the link is the same. If not, leave the site.
Activate Two-factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication or 2FA is a security process that adds a level of protection by verifying the account.
After you log in to your account, you’ll receive a code via email or text message. If you want to proceed to your account, you need to input the code. Often the code will only last for five minutes.
Activating 2FA can also inform you someone is trying to log in to your account because you’ll be receiving a code when the account is being accessed.
Practice Safe Online Shopping
Before you provide your credit card and bank account details, keep the website secured and encrypted.
Only shop on legitimate websites. You can also learn what are the characteristics of a real website. It should have a padlock at the beginning of the address bar. Furthermore, websites should begin with HTTPS.
Other characteristics of a safe website:
- The website should look neat and have no mistakes
- No grammar issues
- Content should be consistent with the address of the website
- Images fit the screen
- Relevant ads and should not cover the content
Backup Your Data
Ransomware attacks are common malicious threats encountered by individuals and businesses. It is a form of malicious program that denies access to the data or entire device.
Then, the hacker will demand a ransom and promise to release data upon payment. However, they aren’t often true to their promise.
The best way to avoid being a victim of a ransomware attack is to avoid clicking on links or trusting anyone with your data. Furthermore, make it a habit to back up your data as frequently as you can.
Backing up your files will prevent you from paying the ransom, and even if you are denied access to your data, you still have a copy of it.
Softvire offers Acronis True Image for safe cloud backup storage.
Use a Firewall
A firewall is a security hardware or software that can filter the traffic that goes in and out of the computer. Any suspicious activities can be detected and blocked by firewall software. Therefore, it prevents malicious content on your computer.
There are different levels of protection offered by a firewall. These levels will determine the security you’ll have for your network. Any devices connected to the protected network are secured.
Turn Off Bluetooth Connection
Leaving your Bluetooth connection on can give hackers the ability to access your phone when they are nearby. Furthermore, a study has shown that when Bluetooth communication is turned on, it can be manipulated by anyone who has access.
That’s why make sure to turn off your Bluetooth connection when not in use and never pair devices you don’t know.
Protect Your Mobile
Since mobile devices and smartphones are the most commonly used devices, protecting them is crucial. Most online activities are conducted on smartphones. Therefore, we should be careful how we use them.
Learn how you can protect your smartphones to keep them safe.
Be Careful When Opening Emails
Email is the most common way malicious threats and activities are distributed. There are various types of emails that are suspicious. There is no one way or subject it contains. Sometimes it can be promotional material or an email that is urgent.
Malware emails contain malicious links and attachments. When you click on the link, you’ll be directed to a fake website. Or the attached file contains malicious programs.
Always make sure not to click on the link on your email, and never read emails from an unknown sender. Also, using security software scans email and its content to see if it’s safe.
Don’t Trust People You Meet Online
Online dating, social media messaging, and so on are ways people get to know someone online. Talking to someone online can be fun but risky at the same time. There are plenty of online scammers out there.
Furthermore, bots and fake accounts are rising in numbers. Therefore, you have to take extra precautions against who you trust. Never give away money or personal information to anyone.
Manage Your Social Media’s Privacy Settings
If you want to avoid hackers and marketers seeing what you do online, you can take control of your activities by changing your privacy settings. Go to your browser or social media accounts and check on your privacy.
Although in some social channels, you’ll find it difficult to tweak the privacy settings.
While the internet is surrounded by malicious content and cybercriminals, there are still ways to avoid them. To fight online threats, practicing safe browsing activities and using the best cybersecurity tools can help. Although it is not a 100% guarantee, it is best to implement safe online tips to get excellent protection.