Social media networking sites and the internet have become an integral part of our online lives. Social and online networks are a great way to stay connected with others, but it’s important, now more than ever before, to stay aware of the dangers that pose online if you aren’t careful.
But there are steps you can take to stay safe online while you visit your favourite social media, news, and entertainment sites.
For Safer Internet Day, we’re sharing 8 ways that you can practice internet safety…
1) LIMIT PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL INFORMATION
You should be cautious when presenting how much personal information and professional information you share, and have on show, for everyone to see on your social networking sites.
Limiting the information you present online will make it harder for hackers, or someone looking to misuse that information, to steal your identity, access your data or commit other crimes such as stalking or phishing.
Find 8 more ways to protect your privacy online in our latest blog that we did for Data Privacy Week.
2) ALTER YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS
Take charge of the information that you share online. By altering the privacy settings in both your web browsers and mobile phone settings, you can further protect your privacy online.
Settings help you decide whether you would like to give consent to the collection, use and disclosure of your personal information. That’s why it’s important to select certain privacy settings that you feel comfortable with on all social media accounts, online services, devices, and browsers.
Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have privacy-enhancing settings available to limit who can, and can’t, see and use certain information. Make sure to enable these privacy safeguards and keep them enabled to protect your data and information that’s shared online.
3) BROWSE AND PURCHASE FROM SECURE ONLINE SITES
By paying attention to the websites you visit, you’ll notice that not all websites are safe. And by safe, we mean secure. Checking to see if a website has an SSL Certificate will mean you have a secure, encrypted connection when browsing. You can identify secure sites by looking at the URL address which should start with https: (the S stands for secure) rather than http: There may also be a padlock icon next to the address bar.
Using a virtual private network (VPN) is very important when you’re in a public location such as a library or coffee shop. A VPN will make it more difficult for cybercriminals to breach your online privacy and access your personal information.
4) BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CLICK ON AND DOWNLOAD
Encrypted websites and cybercriminals can use lurid content as bait such as links, buttons, and ads, knowing people will sometimes be tempted by dubious content and may let their guard down when browsing the internet. With one careless click, you can fall into a hard-to-see pitfall and expose personal data or have your device infected with malware.
Blocking pop-up ads will prevent the nuisance and interference caused when browsing the internet. It also prevents people from clicking into malware posing as an advertisement.
When using a browser, such as Chrome, it saves some information from the websites you visit in its cache and cookies. By clearing both, it will fix certain problems such as loading times and formatting issues. It will also prevent using old forms and protect your personal information by using an up-to-date version, as well as help applications run better on your computer.
Resisting the urge to click and think first, whilst conducting the necessary checks beforehand, means hackers won’t stand a chance!
5) USE A STRONG PASSWORD
Your password will always be your first line of defence against unauthorised access to your computer and accounts online. The stronger the password, the more protected your computer and accounts will be from hackers and malicious software. You should also maintain your accounts and regularly update passwords to have maximum protection.
You can mix up your password by replacing letters and numbers for symbols and a combination of upper and lowercase letters where possible to further protect yourself from online security breaches.
Most social networking sites now have two-factor authentication (2FA), which adds a second layer of security, providing you with even more protection against online threats. Pinterest, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Google all have two-factor authentication, having this will dramatically improve your security and will make it very unlikely for an attacker to fake or steal your details to gain access.
6) BE MINDFUL OF YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT
The Internet does not have a delete key, you might think it does – but it doesn’t. Once you’ve uploaded or shared something, it’s there to stay – even if you think it’s been deleted. The internet has its ways of biting you back in the future. So, it’s important to think before you post, whether that’s a picture, written post, or online comment.
Any comment or image you post online may stay online forever, because removing the original may not remove any copies that other people have made from re-sharing, quote-sharing or screenshotting/screen recording. There is no way for you to “take back” a remark you wished you’d not made or get rid of that embarrassing picture you took in a club.
There’s a rule to live by, don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want your mom or a prospective employer to see. It could hinder your future options and opportunities.
7) BE CAREFUL WITH WHOM YOU TRUST ONLINE
It’s only human nature to feel like we can trust the people we talk to online. But it’s important to remember that the people you meet online are still strangers, no matter how long you’ve been speaking with them or how friendly and trustworthy they seem. Most of the time it can be too good to be true.
Talking to strangers online poses a threat to you and your safety, as they may not be whom they say they are. It can lead to incidents such as online grooming, fraud, and stalking. You should never give out your personal information online, especially to strangers.
Meeting up with these people can also be dangerous, so it’s a good idea if you are going to action your plans and meet them, to let another individual know of your plans and whereabouts, or even bring a friend with you.
8) KEEP ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE UP TO DATE
Always install the latest antivirus software on all your devices. This software can keep hackers from remotely taking over your computer, accessing your personal and financial information and tracking your location. You can Install free verified antivirus apps such as Bitdefender or Kaspersky.
It’s also a good idea to keep your browser updated to the latest update, as it will keep your computer safe and secure by protecting you from identity theft, phishing attacks, viruses, and other sorts of malware.
LOOKING FOR MORE HELP?
If you’re still looking for more ways to practice internet safety, we specialise in network security, remote desktop support and much more. We can help you and your business protect your personal information by simply getting in touch with us today.