Every day we use the internet for just about everything you can think of. With over 650 million websites worldwide, online gaming and social networking, keeping safe online can be tricky to comprehend. Fortunately there are some simple steps we can incorporate into our online life to stay safe and secure.
Keep your computer secure
Ensure all software (including your web browser) current by installing updates.
This is usually as simple as turning on automatic updates on your computer but sometimes an application may ask you to update so keep an eye out. Things to keep up-to-date is your browser, antivirus, Java and Flash. Just be on the lookout for any bundled programs, such as the Ask Toolbar in Java. If you don’t want it make sure not to select it.
Use an effective antivirus and anti-spyware software.
Having an effective and reputable antivirus and anti-spyware is a must & will keep you protected from infected files, pictures and webpages.
Keep your firewall turned on.
Your firewall is like your own security guard for the internet that monitors information coming in and out. Having it turned on can stop the majority of internet-attacks in their tracks. You may have one built into your modem/router but if you are on a public wireless network then double-check that your computer has one installed too.
Don’t put an unknown USB drive into your computer.
Human nature is to explore; however if you find a drive and it has a virus, it could infect your computer. Even if you know who owns the drive, keep in mind that they may have a virus and not know it. Having your antivirus up-to-date will minimise any risk.
Before you open a suspicious attachment, confirm with the sender that the message is really from them.
It may be something like link in an email message or on social networking, but if it looks suspicious then be careful. Any attachment or site that wants you to download a “special viewer” is probably not healthy for your computer.
Don’t click links or buttons in a pop-up window that look suspicious.
Regardless of what a page says, you are probably not the 1,000,000th visitor; have not won a free phone and aren’t getting $1,000,000. Unscrupulous advertisers spend alot of time making their ads appear like a web button, email message or chat window. Most browsers stop popups these days but keep an eye out just to be safe.
Protect your information
Before you enter personal details into a webpage, make sure that it is secure.
A secure website is one that you trust and typically uses secure & encrypted technology to keep your information safe. Your browser will usually show a green bar or a padlock and the address will begin with “https://”; the “s” stands for Secure.
Never give sensitive information in an email or online message.
This is definitely the rule for credit card information but remember that, just like a real letter, an email can be read by someone else. If you wouldn’t want to world to read it, don’t send it in an email.
Don’t respond to pleas for money from “family members”, deals that sound too good to be true, lotteries you didn’t enter, or other scams.
Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
To date, I have had the royal families from several countries ask me for help in exchange for a mere $100,000,000. I have also won the internet lottery in the UK, USA, Hong Kong and a dozen more places. In both cases I just need to provide some bank details, my identification info and possibly my left foot.
Use social networks more safely
Control your online presence
Do you have a friend that tags you when they have breakfast or constantly post your photo? If you aren’t comfortable with being plastered around the world then lock down your profile. Look for Settings or Options in services like Facebook and Twitter to manage who can see your profile or photos tagged with your name, control how people can search for you and make comments, and how to block people.
Do not post anything you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard.
The internet is forever; once that status is posted it is in the history books. Unless you have an army of publicists, you shouldn’t post anything that the world shouldn’t see on a 10 meter billboard along the highway.
Be selective about your online friends.
You cannot choose family but you can choose to accept their friend request. Not only will is reduce the number of game requests you get but it could save a family feud. Also keep in mind that scammers can pretend to be your long lost Uncle Bernard to collect your personal details. Periodically check who has access to your pages and review what they post about you.