These days, when someone wants to know something, the chances are the first place they’ll look is the internet. This is a great storehouse of information in a seemingly invisible space. But just how “invisible” is it? While there’s no doubt the world wide web can be helpful, even life-saving, there are risks associated with going online. Let’s look at some ways you can protect yourself while still getting the best of what the internet has to offer.
- Create Secure Passwords: There are passwords for every site that you visit – different email accounts, social media accounts, work websites; you name it, you need a password for it. One of the things most guaranteed to set you up for trouble is to use the same password and username combination for all sites. Making your password strong and basically unhackable is the most important key to protecting yourself online.Even with a unique, secure password, when using public WiFi do not check your bank account or other important information. This is one way a hacker can gather enough information to do you some real damage.
- Don’t Share Personal Information: Oversharing your personal information is a big no-no when online – or even in your life in general. Personal information can include names, birth dates, address, phone number, locations, social security numbers and any other identifying factor that can be linked to you. Even one of these pieces of information can be enough for someone to open an account under your name or basically take over your online presence without you even knowing until it is too late. Think something is so trivial it’s no use to a potential hacker? Well, how do you choose your passwords? If your password is SteelersFan79, anyone you talk football with is in with a chance of guessing it.
- Use 2-Step Authentication: This is just an added layer of protection. When you set up your account, no matter if it’s social media, a new email address or an online shopping account, you can ensure that if the device you are logging in from is not registered (or if you’re using it for the first time) there will be a text message or email sent, wanting verification that it is actually the account owner logging in. This 2-step authentication process can be added even if an account is already in existence. Look for the settings option under passwords, security or something similar. If you can’t find it, contact the site or company and ask them how to do it. Be sure to use this feature to ensure you have this added layer of protection from online hackers.
- Use a Good Antivirus Software: Install an antivirus package on all devices you will be using online. There are several different options and companies to choose from. Yes, they cost a little bit of money – but it will be worth it for the peace of mind of knowing your activity online is safe from hackers. Be sure to look for one that regularly updates its protection to stay up to date with the latest threats.
- Watch Your Connections: Be cautious of where you are logging in from. Public WiFi, business accounts and wireless routers can all be access points that allow your information to be captured. Ensure that, when searching online, you’re using a secure connection.
- Do Not Click on Pop-Ups: The latest news or gossip on a celebrity looks enticing, and hackers know this. They can attach viruses or malware to these pop-ups, and when the window is clicked on it can attack your device. There are even some that contain ransomware, which is when victims have to pay a fee to have it removed from their device.
As long as we are online users there will be the threat of information getting into the wrong hands. Hopefully, these simple steps will help to keep you in the safe zone and protected while surfing the web.