Hilliard Office Solutions

10 Tips to Stay Safe on the Internet

Posted by Hilliard IT Solutions on Oct 4, 2017 4:18:44 PM

We’ve always known that the internet isn’t considered the safest place. However, with all these hacks, scams, and malware the internet is even more dangerous. Smart phones and tablets that are connected to the internet have also made us even more vulnerable to greater risks.

The good news is, there are a handful of security measures that you can take to counteract these risks associated with internet threats.

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Here are 10 tips to staying safe online:

1. Change Your Password(s): The first tip to having greater internet safety is a basic yet vital one- change your passwords several times a year. Creating strong and unique passwords made up of letters numbers and special characters is really the most proactive way to keep your information safe. It is important to not reuse the same password(s) for each online account, because hackers have the ability to take the leaked data from one attack and use it to login to your other accounts. It can definitely be a pain to remember all of these passwords, but ask yourself which is more of a pain – remembering different passwords, or trying to recover your stolen personal information? 

To keep your information and accounts as safe as can be, check and see if multi-factor authentication (TFA) is available. TFA is a technology that increases security by requiring more than a password to login to your accounts such as; a PIN number that changes periodically, a security question, or enter a code that is sent to your phone.

2. Improve Network Security: With your logins safe now, it is time to make sure your connections are secure as well. When you are at home or work, there is probably a password-protected router that secures your data. However if you ever out and about and connect to public Wi-Fi, you are opening yourself up to everyone on that public network. Public networks are exactly how they sound, public; which means that they are often unsecured. People who are in close proximity may be able to access the open network and collect your login information and whatever you are browsing. Try avoiding signing into bank or email accounts while on the public Wi-Fi. If you have to login to these accounts, make sure to use a reliable personal virtual private network (VPN). A VPN enables a data encryption that adds an additional layer of security, making it more difficult for cyber criminals to get all in your business.

3. Keep the Firewall on: A firewall can never hurt, so even if your network is secure make sure that your firewall remains on. Using a firewall ensures that all the devices connected to your network remain secure. In order for the firewall to be most effective, make sure that your antivirus and anti spyware are up-to-date.

4. Be a smart clicker: Passwords? Check. Tech Measures in place? Check. Now that these two are complete, it is time to make sure that you don’t invite hackers over with careless clicking. Most of the online threats today are based on phishing. If an offer is too good to be true, 9/10 times it probably is. If you get an email from an unknown source, do not click any of the links within it. Or if a window pops up while browsing a website with a quiz or freebie but asks for a lot of personal information, immediately close it. Using your judgment and trusting your gut is the ultimate defense when online.

5. Be Selective When Sharing: Everyone puts everything out there on the internet or social media these days. Some social media posts that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, but require a survey, are designed to literally steal your personal information and can be used to impersonate you.  Also be smart when posting pictures of tickets from events on social media-hackers enjoy creating fake tickets and vouchers from the bar code obtained from the photo. Don’t let a hacker ruin your event before you even get there.

6. Make sure your smartphone is smart: Before downloading an app from the app store or google play, make sure to read the reviews to make sure that they are legit. Some apps that are often disguised as games and offered at no cost could be designed to steal your personal information from your device. For example, it doesn’t make sense for a weather app to demand access to your photos, does it? Mobile devices are an open gate to our privacy, security and money so take the proper precautions.

7. Bank & Shop with Caution: Stick with the reputable sites that are tried and true – like Amazon or eBay. Also, when checking out and finalizing the purchase, look for the ‘padlock’ symbol or the abbreviation ‘https’ in the address bar at the top of your browser. This will ensure that you are on a secure, encrypted part of this web page. Cyber criminals often create convincing emails that appear to come from bank, credit-card company and other popular websites that hold financial or other sensitive date. Contained within will be links to copycat sites under the cyber criminal’s control which will steal your personal data. Keeping an eye on your bank statements for suspicious activity is always a good idea, among these other best practices for shopping online.

8. Lock your computer: When you walk away from your machine, lock it. In Windows, it is as easy as pressing the Windows key + L. On an Apple Mac, pressing “Control+Shift+Eject” will do the trick (unless you do not have an optical drive, then you can hit the “Power” key instead of “Eject”). This practice would be the equivalent to dead bolting the front door of your home. It acts as a deterrent to the bad guys as well as a line of defense. If you do not have a password lock on your Apple or Windows machine, it would be smart to create one.

9. Stay on top of the latest scam trends: Like the internet constantly evolving, so are online threats. Ransomware-when a hacker threatens to lock you out of your files unless you agree to pay a ransom- is the newest and trendiest scam. Stay on top of this and other trends by staying informed. 

10. Don’t let your guard down: This should go without saying, but remember to always be cautious about what you do online and what sites you browse. Consider yourself a target for hackers when using your computer and think about what you are doing.  In today’s security landscape, we need to acknowledge that sensitive information and private data is always under threat from cyber-criminals. Make sure to back up your data on a routine basis, just in case something goes wrong. By taking the proper precaution, you  save yourself a lot of headaches in the future.

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Posted by Hilliard IT Solutions

Topics: Technology, Managed IT services

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