The Net offers convenience, entertainment and ways to stay connected with those around us, but it also exposes us to new threats. We all want the upside without having to worry about the downside.
So what I’ve outlined below is a series of easy-to-remember tips that will keep you happily blogging, buying, surfing…or whatever you do on the Net.
The first and most obvious thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to (1) use strong passwords. For every website you log into, you need a unique password that contains letters, numbers and symbols. For convenience, use one of your hobbies or your favorite sports team and change up the letters a bit. For example, someone who enjoys fishing might choose f1shIngF@n.
Experts recommend using a different password for every site. If you’re like me you visit about three dozen sites every day. Remembering that many unique passwords wouldn’t be possible without a program like LastPass, which remembers your password for you each time you visit a site.
To keep your computer up-to-date against the latest viruses, you need to (2) set your antivirus program to download and install updates automatically. But for it to be any good, you need to put your antivirus software to work occasionally. At least once a month, (3) scan your entire computer for viruses. To round out your toolbox, scan for malware using Spybot Search & Destroy and Malwarebytes.
Your browser, operating system and other software also need to be kept up to date. So (4) don’t ignore the update notifications that pop up on your toolbar, thinking you’ll get to them later. These updates are your best defense against the latest viruses.
Here’s another no-brainer, but some of us still forget: (5) don’t open suspicious emails. If you don’t know who the sender is, do yourself a favor and hit delete without even opening it. And be careful with emails that appear to be from companies or people you trust – I talked earlier about the fake Facebook notification emails.
Since most of us, including myself, do our banking and shopping online, I have three tips to keep your finances safe. First, (6) don’t check your bank accounts on public networks. That includes the free wi-fi you find at coffee shops and airports, but also public computers at the library. These networks are not secure, so anything you type could be intercepted by criminals. You may disagree with me here, but I think it’s best to avoid doing anything involving your finances while on a public network.
When you go to buy something online, (7) look for the lock in the address bar. You should also see the “s” in “https://” telling you the page is encrypted. (8) Your method of payment should always be credit card. If you pay with a credit card and something goes wrong, all you have to do is dispute the charge with your credit card company. But if you pay with a debit card, it’s your money that’s gone and you have to fight your bank to get it back.
I have one last tip for you as you’re getting your daily fix. Criminals are getting more sophisticated every day in their ability to swipe our personal stuff. Online, things aren’t always what they seem to be. So my last tip is to be careful out there. (9) Think before you click and you’ll stay out of trouble.
Photo by hashout.blogspot.com