These days, the internet is used for almost anything. People use the internet for making purchases, paying bills, watching TV, as well as keeping in touch with friends and family. In addition, the internet is used to check and send email, share information and for looking up news and weather.
Given the dominance the internet has over our everyday lives, it’s important that everyone should take precautions to make sure they are safe while surfing online content.
Below are some points of advice and best practices to help you do so.
Remember, Most of What Goes Online Stays Online
This is not a “whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” type of situation. The internet is accessible by almost everyone in the world. While you might think you are safe, basically anything you share online stays online permanently.
Although some of it might disappear if you were to get rid of your social media account or delete a website, you have to consider that there are still thousands of people who have probably seen that information. Before you post, think twice if your post is something you don’t mind being online for years to come.
Utilize Virtual Private Networks
A Virtual Private Network (aka, VPN) can help ensure your information stays out of the hands of someone who could do harm to you or use your information in a way that might affect your life negatively.
Cybersecurity experts recommend using a VPN to keep your online data safe.This option is worth looking into so you can surf the internet without risking your privacy.
Read more about how VPNs work here.
If You are Dating, Use Trusted Sites
If you are going to be using the internet for dating, make sure you choose sites that are trusted and have reliable security features. Dating can be tricky enough, and you’ll probably meet some pretty scummy people in a bar or elsewhere, but the internet can be even more dangerous. People who are looking to hurt you could be posing as someone else to lure you in.
A good way to avoid such a scenario is to read reviews about the dating service you’re looking to join before you sign on.
Limit What You Share on Social Media
You might think you aren’t sharing your personal information on social media, but be very careful. Sometimes when you post, your social media app automatically shows your location. This can be extremely dangerous, as anyone looking at your post knows where you are.
Additionally, if you are going to post photos, make sure you don’t post any with personal information in them. For example, posting a picture of your child at their school might not be the best idea. A predator could see that photo and then they know where your children go to learn. Not only does it put your child at risk, but it also puts other people at risk, too.
Be Careful Who You Share Information With
The internet can be used for dating, meeting new people and keeping in touch with old friends. But, it’s important to remember to be very careful who you decide to share information with.
Even if you think someone on social media is a trusted friend or colleague, you never know if it is really them. Unless you are certain who the person on the other end is, do not share personal information with them.
Be Familiar with Privacy Options
If you are going to use social media or spend time on any apps online, be sure to get familiar with their privacy options. You should activate the privacy options that are going to keep you safe. Many apps, including Facebook, have privacy settings where only people you choose can see your photos and information. There are also options so that people cannot search you, or options to block someone if they are bothering you.
Take the time to read through these settings to make sure you are taking all the necessary steps.
Steer Clear of Online Scams
If you have a bad feeling about someone you are talking to or something you are signing up for, listen to your intuition. There is a reason you are feeling doubtful of its reliability. Something made you feel funny about the person or website. There are so many online scams, so it is important to know that what you are signing up for is legit. If you are questioning it, don’t go through with it.
Use Anti-Virus Software
This is a way to protect yourself and your personal information from a lot of hassle. Having viruses on your computer puts you at risk of hackers that can steal your personal information.
You should try your best to prevent this from happening because if it does, it becomes a mess. It can be very difficult to get your name cleared when you have been hacked.
Read Agreements Carefully
We are all guilty of it. When signing up for a new app or website, you are usually asked if you agree to the terms and conditions. It is important to read through it because the information there is a binding contract. You should try to understand it as best you can to make sure you are not signing away your rights or signing up for something that you are not okay with. It is the same as if you were signing a contract in person.
So, it’s always a good practice to make sure you understand the fine print before using an app or software.
Use Strong Passwords
These days you need a password for just about everything. Be sure to choose unique passwords that no one would be able to guess. You should also change your password often, and never use the same password for everything. If someone else learns your password combination for more than one account, they can easily have access to important information including your bank account details and other sensitive data.
Choose something that no one could guess and make sure you have numbers, capitals and other characters included in the mix. Never use your birthdate, address or name because those could be easy to guess.
While the internet is useful for many things, it has its dangers too. But if you implement cybersecurity best practices on a regular basis, you can limit your risk for hacks or other types of online attacks in the future.