Top 10 Internet Safety Rules & What Not to Do Online



Top 10 Internet Safety Rules & What Not to Do Online


A 19-year-old running for public office in New Hampshire found out about the importance of following Internet safety rules the hard way. As Seacoast Online reports, his opponents found images in his social media posts that were sexually suggestive and referenced past drug use. Just like that, his political career crashed and burned upon takeoff. But, unfortunately, he isn't the only one, as careless Internet habits have left others exposed to scams, identity theft and physical harm at the hands of people they met online. With more users accessing the Internet through mobile devices, these risks are changing and growing quickly.

Even though apps loom larger in most people's daily online interactions than traditional websites do, that does not mean that the basic Internet safety rules have changed. Hackers are still on the lookout for the personal information they can use to access your credit card and bank information.

Unsafe surfing can also lead to other threats—from embarrassing personal comments or images that, once online, are nearly impossible to erase, to getting mixed up with people you'd rather have had nothing to do with.

Here are the Top 10 Internet safety rules to follow to help you avoid getting into trouble online (and offline).

1. Keep Personal Information Professional and Limited

Potential employers or customers don't need to know your personal relationship status or your home address. They do need to know about your expertise and professional background, and how to get in touch with you. You wouldn't hand purely personal information out to strangers individually—don't hand it out to millions of people online.
 
Top 10 Internet Safety Rules & What Not to Do Online
Top 10 Internet Safety Rules & What Not to Do Online

2. Keep Your Privacy Settings On

Marketers love to know all about you, and so do hackers. Both can learn a lot from your browsing and social media usage. But you can take charge of your information. As noted by Lifehacker, both web browsers and mobile operating systems have settings available to protect your privacy online. Major websites like Facebook also have privacy-enhancing settings available. These settings are sometimes (deliberately) hard to find because companies want your personal information for its marketing value. Make sure you have enabled these privacy safeguards, and keep them enabled.

3. Practice Safe Browsing

You wouldn't choose to walk through a dangerous neighborhood—don't visit dangerous neighborhoods online. Cybercriminals use lurid content as bait. They know people are sometimes tempted by dubious content and may let their guard down when searching for it. The Internet's demimonde is filled with hard-to-see pitfalls, where one careless click could expose personal data or infect your device with malware. By resisting the urge, you don't even give the hackers a chance.

4. Make Sure Your Internet Connection is Secure. Use a Secure VPN Connection

When you go online in a public place, for example by using a public Wi-Fi connection, PCMag notes you have no direct control over its security. Corporate cybersecurity experts worry about "endpoints"—the places where a private network connects to the outside world. Your vulnerable endpoint is your local Internet connection. Make sure your device is secure, and when in doubt, wait for a better time (i.e., until you're able to connect to a secure Wi-Fi network) before providing information such as your bank account number.

To further improve your Internet browsing safety, use secure VPN connection (virtual private network). VPN enables you to have a secure connection between your device and an Internet server that no one can monitor or access the data that you’re exchanging. Read more about What is VPN

5. Be Careful What You Download

A top goal of cybercriminals is to trick you into downloading malware—programs or apps that carry malware or try to steal information. This malware can be disguised as an app: anything from a popular game to something that checks traffic or the weather. As PCWorld advises, don't download apps that look suspicious or come from a site you don't trust.

6. Choose Strong Passwords

Passwords are one of the biggest weak spots in the whole Internet security structure, but there's currently no way around them. And the problem with passwords is that people tend to choose easy ones to remember (such as "password" and "123456"), which are also easy for cyber thieves to guess. Select strong passwords that are harder for cybercriminals to demystify. Password manager software can help you to manage multiple passwords so that you don't forget them. A strong password is one that is unique and complex—at least 15 characters long, mixing letters, numbers and special characters.

7. Make Online Purchases From Secure Sites

Any time you make a purchase online, you need to provide credit card or bank account information—just what cybercriminals are most eager to get their hands on. Only supply this information to sites that provide secure, encrypted connections. As Boston University notes, you can identify secure sites by looking for an address that starts with https: (the S stands for secure) rather than simply http: They may also be marked by a padlock icon next to the address bar.

8. Be Careful What You Post

The Internet does not have a delete key, as that young candidate in New Hampshire found out. Any comment or image you post online may stay online forever because removing the original (say, from Twitter) does not remove any copies that other people made. There is no way for you to "take back" a remark you wish you hadn't made, or get rid of that embarrassing selfie you took at a party. Don't put anything online that you wouldn't want your mom or a prospective employer to see.

9. Be Careful Who You Meet Online

People you meet online are not always who they claim to be. Indeed, they may not even be real. As InfoWorld reports, fake social media profiles are a popular way for hackers to cozy up to unwary Web users and pick their cyber pockets. Be as cautious and sensible in your online social life as you are in your in-person social life.

10. Keep Your Antivirus Program Up To Date

Internet security software cannot protect against every threat, but it will detect and remove most malware—though you should make sure it's to date. Be sure to stay current with your operating system's updates and updates to applications you use. They provide a vital layer of security.

Keep these 10 basic Internet safety rules in mind and you'll avoid many of the nasty surprises that lurk online for the careless.

Every day, it seems we hear about a new internet scam, from Nigerian princes requesting a wire transfer of $10,000 to online dating catfishing. As helpful as the internet can be, such stories are worrisome.
While the internet can sometimes seem like a jungle of a million different threats, you can take steps to protect yourself. Here are five easy, free and quick ways to safeguard yourself.

Enable Two-Step Authentication

Also known as multi- or two-factor authentication or login approval – two-step verification provides an extra layer of security beyond your username and password to protect against account hijacking. When using this security mechanism, you will log in using your password and then be prompted verify your identity again. This second verification is usually done via a biometric (fingerprint or face scan), security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device.

Many websites and companies offer two-step verification, and they make it easy to set up this second layer – usually found in the settings section of your account. Using two-step authentication can help you feel more secure, especially for sites containing your financial information.



Check a Site’s SSL Certificate

Whenever you’re shopping online and entering credit card or bank information, it’s important to make sure that website is secured to protect against hackers trying to steal your info. You can find out if a website is secure by checking its SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification. While this process sounds complicated, it’s actually one of the simplest and quickest things to do for your online security.

When on a website, check the URL. Does it start with “http://” or “https://”? If you notice an s at the end, that means your connection is encrypted and secure, so any data you enter is safely sent to the website. Not all sites have SSL certification. While they may be fine to browse, avoid sharing any financial or personal information on websites without this added layer of security.



Don’t Save Financial Information on Shopping Sites

Even sites with SSL certification can be hacked. While there may not be a way yet to completely safeguard your data from hackers if you shop online, you can secure your financial information better by removing it altogether from shopping sites.

Many shopping sites let you save your credit card information in your online account. This setup makes it easier to make purchases in the future, as your billing and shipping addresses and credit card information are stored. However, if you can access this information, so can hackers. Rather than store your credit cards and addresses in your accounts, spend the extra minute to enter your information each time you make a purchase.



Be Careful Who You Trust

Catfishing has made headlines quite a few times in the last few years, and this online scam doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Catfishing happens when a person sets up a fake online profile ­­­­­– usually on social media or dating sites ­– and targets people with the goal of asking for money.

Catfishers are in it for the long game and may try to strike up an online relationship for months before asking for money. The losses can be extreme, averaging more than $15,000 per victim. To avoid catfishing, don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know and never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. If a situation ever feels fishy, trust your gut and cut off contact with that individual.



Create Strong, Unique Passwords

Using the same password for every account it is not a safe. Often, people don’t realize their account has been hacked.

Make your password a sentence: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!

Start using a few of these tips today. As you get in the habit of following security best practices, you can feel more protected online and aware of common online scams.

With hacks, scams, malware and more, the Internet can feel like a dangerous place these days. And, the recent proliferation of devices, from smartphones and tablets to Internet-connected appliances, has opened us up to even greater risks.

But the good news is that by taking just a small handful of security measures we can greatly reduce our exposure to all these threats.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Create Complex Passwords.
We know you’ve heard it before, but creating strong, unique passwords for all your critical accounts really is the best way to keep your personal and financial information safe. This is especially true in the era of widespread corporate hacks, where one database breach can reveal tens of thousands of user passwords. If you reuse your passwords, a hacker can take the leaked data from one attack and use it to login to your other accounts. Our best advice: use a password manager to help you store and create strong passwords for all of your accounts.

Then, check to see if your online accounts offer multi-factor authentication. This is when multiple pieces of information are required to verify your identity. So, to log into an account you may need to enter a code that is sent to your phone, as well as your password and passphrase.

2. Boost Your Network Security. Now that your logins are safer, make sure that your connections are secure. When at home or work, you probably use a password-protected router that encrypts your data. But, when you’re on the road, you might be tempted to use free, public Wi-Fi.The problem with public Wi-Fi is that it is often unsecured. This means it’s relatively easy for a hacker to access your device or information. That’s why you should consider investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a piece of software that creates a secure connection over the internet, so you can safely connect from anywhere.

3. Use a Firewall. Even if your network is secure, you should still use a firewall. This an electronic barrier that blocks unauthorized access to your computers and devices, and is often included with comprehensive security software. Using a firewall ensures that all of the devices connected to your network are secured, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smart thermostats and webcams. This is important since many IoT devices aren’t equipped with security measures, giving hackers a vulnerable point of entry to your entire network.

4. Click Smart. Now that you’ve put smart tech measures into place, make sure that you don’t invite danger with careless clicking. Many of today’s online threats are based on phishing or social engineering. This is when you are tricked into revealing personal or sensitive information for fraudulent purposes. Spam emails, phony “free” offers, click bait, online quizzes and more all use these tactics to entice you to click on dangerous links or give up your personal information. Always be wary of offers that sound too good to be true, or ask for too much information.

5. Be a Selective Sharer. These days, there are a lot of opportunities to share our personal information online. Just be cautious about what you share, particularly when it comes to your identity information. This can potentially be used to impersonate you, or guess your passwords and logins.

6. Protect Your Mobile Life. Our mobile devices can be just as vulnerable to online threats as our laptops. In fact, mobile devices face new risks, such as risky apps and dangerous links sent by text message. Be careful where you click, don’t respond to messages from strangers, and only download apps from official app stores after reading other users’ reviews first. Make sure that your security software is enabled on your mobile, just like your computers and other devices.

7. Practice Safe Surfing & Shopping. When shopping online, or visiting websites for online banking or other sensitive transactions, always make sure that the site’s address starts with “https”, instead of just “http”, and has a padlock icon in the URL field. This indicates that the website is secure and uses encryption to scramble your data so it can’t be intercepted by others. Also, be on the lookout for websites that have misspellings or bad grammar in their addresses. They could be copycats of legitimate websites. Use a safe search tool such as McAfee SiteAdvisor to steer clear of risky sites.

8. Keep up to date. Keep all your software updated so you have the latest security patches. Turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it, and make sure that your security software is set to run regular scans.

9. Lookout for the latest scams. Online threats are evolving all the time, so make sure you know what to look out for. Currently, “ransomware” is on the rise. This is when a hacker threatens to lock you out of all of your files unless you agree to pay a ransom. Stay on top of this and other threats by staying informed.

10. Keep your guard up. Always be cautious about what you do online, which sites you visit, and what you share. Use comprehensive security software, and make sure to backup your data on a regular basis in case something goes wrong. By taking preventative measures, you can save yourself from headaches later on.





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