The internet, while giving our society so much value, can also be a place of many dangers that can befall you if you’re not careful. Land on the wrong website and you can get your PC infected with malware or your data stolen by a fake login form. But the good news is, a lot of it depends on you, your browsing habits, and knowing how to stay safe online. By implementing the following bits and pieces of wisdom, you, too, can learn how to stay safe when browsing the internet:
Too many people make the mistake of using the same password across every website they come across. Why is this a problem? Well, for starters, if hackers breach one of these websites, all they have to do is try logging in with the same user credentials on the others, and they’ll be able to get in without even having to compromise them or hack anything. Varying your passwords will effectively solve the problem, even though it’s going to require more effort to remember them all. But if you use a password manager, this does not apply since there’s only going to be one master password to remember.
2.Don’t install anything if you don’t trust the source
Browse the internet often enough, and you’ll spot a ton of software up for grabs. Unless you’re installing it from a trustworthy provider, however, you could be compromising your computer’s security. For example, by downloading and installing a system patch from Microsoft’s official website, there’s nothing to fear. On the other hand, doing the same thing from a suspicious-looking third-party website may be another thing altogether.
While cookies are essential for enabling certain website functionality, some of them serve no other purpose than helping the webmasters track your online activity and serve you targeted ads. From the perspective of protecting your privacy, this is a bit intrusive. While there’s nothing wrong with the website letting you stay logged in by planting a cookie on your machine and customize your user experience, letting them know what you do on the website may not be in your best interest. In the end, blocking the cookies is a personal decision. Which one is more important to you; convenience or privacy?
Speaking of convenience, do you often use public Wi-Fi networks? Although these are great for checking up on the local weather report or reading a couple of news posts, they should never be used for online banking or accessing accounts that contain personal data. At least without a VPN, that is. By using one, you’ll encrypt the communication between you and the target server, so no one will be able to intercept it. Moreover, a fast VPN helps protect your privacy online, since it masks your real IP with a fake one, thus preventing others from tracking your online activities.
If you stick to reputable eCommerce websites like Amazon and eBay only, there is little reason to worry. The developers have undertaken all the steps needed to protect your sensitive banking information and store it safely. The same, however, cannot be said for certain lesser-known merchants. Not saying that all of them are out there to swindle you by any means, but if something goes wrong, can you really know they’ll be refunding your money or that your data is safely encrypted? If you decide to purchase from the not-so-popular vendors, check their ratings and make sure everything else is in order.
Fraudulent login pages were created for one purpose only – to trick you into inputting your login credentials through a fake login page. The act is known as phishing, and it’s one of the most underhanded tactics the bad guys use to get their hands on your sensitive personal data. They usually do this by masquerading as someone you trust (for example, as your coworker or your boss) to gain your trust and psychologically trick you into willingly giving out your details. This is an effective tactic that works on so many targets because of the fear of repercussions. The solution? Keep your guard up and don’t take things at face value. Whenever in doubt, don’t click on the link sent to you through an email – enter the URL directly into your browser instead.
By sticking to these core cybersecurity principles, you’ll make sure that your stay on the web remains both safe and a pleasant one. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of your online safety is in your hands.