You lock the gate or door when you want to secure your home. But what do you do to stay safe online? Read these online safety tips to help keep you safe online.
The internet enhanced worldwide connectivity and access to many things that were difficult to reach. However, with this connectivity, users faced new threats and malicious attacks that stole personal data. Every year, millions of people are exposed to identity scams, spamming, and malware attacks that sabotage their personal devices.
So how can you stay safe as you surf the internet and ensure your passwords, personal details, and credit and bank information do not fall into the wrong hands? Here are eight internet safety guidelines and tips to keep in mind.
1. Do Not Share Your Personal Information
Your personal accounts, passwords, addresses, banking details, and other personal information should always be a secret. If you provided them to a company you were working for but left, you could send a data erasure request to your previous employer for them to erase all your data.
Additionally, avoid sharing things like your relationship details on social media, as they could be used to guess the answers to security questions.
2. Be Careful of the Links You Click
You should never click links from emails or people you do not know without double-checking them. Sometimes, you can hover the cursor over a link to see if it will give you a website preview. If the link claims to be from a company, you are better off Googling the company and visiting its official site directly. This will help you avoid spam links that mimic the names of real companies.
For example, if you get an email with a link like paypall.com, checking it will reveal the extra ‘L,’ meaning it's not the official PayPal website. Or if a website or an e-mail asks you to log in or provide your baking details, you can call the bank directly to verify the data subject requests.
3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks
Public Wi-Fi networks are one of the ways people get hacked or have their details stolen. Hackers access unsecured networks and plant malware that monitors users and the details they enter while using it. Therefore, you should never input personal or financial information when using unsecured public Wi-Fi.
Some hackers also create public Wi-Fi hotspots and wait for unsuspecting users to log in. They then see everything you do online and wait for you to enter any sensitive data.
4. Be Careful What You Download
Malware can be easily concealed as apps or within other file downloads. Such malware can be in the form of viruses or Trojan horses. The malware springs into action when you open the file after downloading it.
They then steal your information or lock your device and demand ransoms to unlock it. Therefore, avoid downloading apps or files from suspicious websites. Installing anti-virus programs that scan downloads can also help by warning you when you download harmful files.
5. Use Strong Passwords
We know how easy and convenient it is to set up birthday dates, children, or pet names as your passwords. They are easy to remember. However, they also make it easy for hackers to guess your password and gain access to your social media accounts, online banking, or other platforms you use.
If you want to set a strong password, ensure it has at least eight characters. The more, the better. Additionally, the password should be a mix of characters, including uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. You can use password managers to manage multiple passwords, so you don’t forget them.
6. Ensure You Update Your Software
Software update packages come with new security features that protect your devices from new hacking schemes. Some updates can also provide extra layers of security, thus securing your computer or mobile phone even more.
Always install software updates on time, especially when including essential security updates. In addition, always set up automatic notifications on your devices to ensure you never miss any updates.
7. Backup Your Personal Data
You should back up crucial personal information on external hard drives and ensure you create new backups regularly. Backing up your data can help you recover from malware attacks that sabotage your information.
Nowadays, companies like Google and Microsoft offer cloud backing services that can be automated to back up your data daily, weekly or even monthly.
8. Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is one of the safest ways to prevent access to your online accounts. Having two-factor authentication helps keep your account safe, even if there's another person who knows your password.
The technology works by requesting a unique code sent to your authentication app or phone number after logging into your account. Always ensure you enable two-factor authentication to prevent online hackers from accessing your personal information and accounts.