Stay Safe Online

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The internet is a most important in many people’s everyday lives. It is a great place full of wonderful information to gather our self, but it is also full of many dangers. The price of banking, shopping, and interacting online might be your personal information. To stay safe on the internet, use the following strategies.

  • Be a responsible cyber citizen

If you use the Internet, you’re a citizen of a global community-a cyber citizen. Just like being a citizen of your local community, being a cyber citizen has responsibilities. Use the Internet to share knowledge that makes people’s lives better. Keep safe, use good manners and respect the laws.

  • Know the scams

Read articles, follow the news, and share this so you can learn about different kinds of scams and what you can do to avoid them and also help your friends.

  • Think before you click

Never click on links in messages from people you don’t know or vaguely know. These phishing emails have links that lead to websites that can lure you into giving personal information or download malware to your computer. You should even be wary with emails from people you do know if it looks or sounds suspicious. Hackers can create a malicious email that looks like it came from your best friend’s email account.

  • Safely peruse

Beware of phony websites. These sites may have an address that’s very similar to a legitimate site, but the page can have misspellings, bad grammar or low resolution images. However, scammers are getting better at replicating sites so make sure. If a site asks for personal information, that you double check the URL and make sure it’s not asking for information it shouldn’t.

  • Use anti-virus software

A computer virus is a program that can be install your computer and damage or destroy information. Anti-virus software is designed to protect you and your computer against known viruses and unwanted tools. But with new viruses emerging daily, anti-virus programs need to be updated regularly. Check with the web site of your anti-virus software company to see some sample descriptions of viruses and to get regular updates for your software.

  • Use hard-to-guess passwords and keep them private

Do not write passwords down on small pieces of paper taped to your computer. You would be surprised how many people are careless about keeping their passwords private. Passwords that are easy to-guess are a bad choice. In other words, if your name is “Shiny” do not make your password “Shiny.” Change your passwords regularly and don’t give your passwords to anyone. Tell your family that combinations of letters, numbers and symbols are harder to crack than just words.

  • Use a secure password

We have all signed up for some website with a basic password, thinking there is no way that someone would want to hack our account.  But that may not be the case.  Setting an easy password on one website often leads to that password being used across many websites.  The easier you make it for a thief to brute-force access your account, the more likely you are to have your other accounts hacked.  By establishing a mixture of characters, numbers, and letters into a password, recommended to be 10 characters or more, you add a high level of difficulty for any brute-force password theft.

  • Change your passwords regularly

There is a reason your office requires regular password changes for your e-mail.  Even if your password is compromised, by changing it regularly across all your accounts, you remove the chance of your account being accessed.  A pro-tip would be to set a reminder for every 90 days on your calendar with a link to all your accounts settings pages.  It makes it easiest to click through and make the changes regularly.

  • If you get hacked, change your password immediately

Often, when you are hacked, a spam email will be sent to all your contacts. If you find out this has happened, change your password to something completely different immediately. Alert the people that may have received a spam email from your account to delete it immediately without opening it.

  • Do not share access to your computers with strangers. Learn about file sharing risks.

Your computer operating system may allow other computers on a network, including the Internet, to access the hard-drive of your computer in order to “share files”. This ability to share files can be used to infect your computer with a virus or look at the files on your computer if you do not pay close attention. Check your operating system and other program help files to learn how to disable file sharing. Do not share access to your computer with strangers.

  • Disconnect from the Internet when not in use.

The Internet is a two-way road. You get information and also send information. Turning off the Internet makes sure that someone else on the Internet can’t enter your computer and cause harm. Disconnecting your computer from the Internet when you are not online lessens the chance that someone will be able to access your computer.

  • Back-up your computer regularly.

Help your family back up all household computers onto external media such as CD’s or memory stick.

  • Keep up to date.

The best security software updates automatically to protect your computer. Use the manufacturer’s latest security patches to make regular updates and make sure that you have the software set to do routine scans

  • Protect your info.

Keep your guard up. Back up all of your data on your computer, smartphone and tablet in the event of loss, theft or a crash. Also, routinely check your various financial statements for questionable activity

  • Install a firewall.

A firewall is a great line of defence against cyber-attacks. Although most operating systems come with a firewall, you might want to consider installing firewall protection which has a much better firewall than the one that comes built into your operating system.

  • Watch your Wi-Fi connectivity.

Protect your network by changing your router’s default settings and making sure you have the connection password-protected.

  • Only access your accounts from secure locations

It might only be 30 seconds of access to your bank account on that free WiFi at the coffee shop, but if the network has been compromised, that is more than enough time to collect all the data needed for a thief.  While the convenience factor is there, if you must access the accounts, you might want to look into a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to ensure an encrypted connection to your home or work network.

  • HTTPS access

In most browsers and information heavy websites, there is a way to force a HTTPS connection when available.  This connection adds another level of encrypted security when logging in, making it even more difficult for data thieves to gather your information when logging in.  To check if you are on a HTTPS connection, look for a padlock in the URL bar in the browser or check the URL itself for it to begin with HTTPS.

  • Be careful what you post online

Everything you write on a social network is public, so don’t give out any personal details, such as your address, bank details etc. That would be the equivalent of shouting the details out of the window. Don’t write that you are going on holiday, as that leaves you vulnerable to burglars. Many employers also google prospective employees before hiring, so don’t post anything that could damage your chances of getting a job.

  • Shop safely.

Don’t shop on a site unless it has the “https” and a padlock icon to the left or right of the URL. Also, protect yourself and use a credit card instead of a debit card while shopping online a credit card company is more likely to reimburse you for fraudulent charges.

  • Help your family to check computer security on a regular basis.

Evaluate computer security at least twice a year. To help remember, do it when you change the clocks for daylight-savings time! Check for all of the items listed previously.

These are the basics to help you stay safe online. It should help to ensure your security online while still providing the convenience online access offers.

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