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10 Internet Safety Tips to Protect Yourself Online
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The internet is the main avenue for professional communication, payment transactions, and information sharing, but with so many people working remotely these days, internet safety is more important than ever before.
Imagine sitting down at your favorite coffee shop with your laptop open and headphones on. Not too difficult to picture, right?
Now, imagine signing into a Wi-Fi network that looks like it belongs to the coffee shop. Little do most people know, hackers are often waiting for public Wi-Fi users to sign into fake Wi-Fi networks. Once you’ve signed in, it’s incredibly easy for hackers to steal confidential information, personal identity, and credit card numbers.
Setting up fake Wi-Fi networks is just one of many ways hackers can steal your information. That’s why we've put together 10 practical tips to help you stay safe on the internet and avoid the catastrophe of identity theft.
1. Don’t fall prey to ‘clickbait’
If you receive an email promising you a million dollars or a free cruise through the Bahamas, know that it’s always too good to be true.
Try checking your email settings to make sure you have your filter turned ‘on.’ This will help prevent fake emails meant to give your device a virus from coming into your inbox. This might stop certain emails you want from coming through, so just make sure you check your ‘junk’ folder every once in a while.
2. Don’t share personal information online
Don’t share personal information on public social media platforms. Pretty straightforward, right?
Make your social media accounts private if you share your heart and soul with your friends. Also, don’t have your personal email address where anyone can find it. This will minimize the number of ‘free cruises’ you’re offered over email.
3. Be wary of what you download
Cybercriminals love installing malware through free downloads. Never download apps or documents unless they come from a website you know and trust. Know what you’re downloading before you click on that “free and easy download” that’s not actually real.
4. Invest in a reliable virtual private network (VPN)
Using a virtual private network (VPN) is an excellent way to protect your online activity, especially when you’re using public Wi-Fi networks. VPNs work by routing your internet connection through a private server, rather than coming directly from your computer. Since the VPN encrypts your data, your identity stays anonymous, which means that hackers won’t be able to steal your personal information as easily.
Investing in a good VPN is an important step to online safety and security. Consider the following VPNs if you’re looking for a place to start. Below is a list of the top VPNs for privacy based on their logging policy. You can easily read individual reviews on each brand available.
Zero logs for incoming or outgoing traffic
Strict no-logging policy
Zero logging policy approved by auditors
Logs minimal information, such as server location
Data effective 2/10/2022. Offers subject to change.
For a deeper comparison, check out our breakdown of the Best VPN Services for Privacy.
5. Update your antivirus program
There are plenty of internet security programs to choose from. While it can’t protect you from every online threat, it’s important to update your security program so it can detect the latest versions of threatening malware.
Even the most updated antivirus programs can’t protect you from every hacker. In order to protect your privacy further, consider using a VPN in addition to an antivirus program.
6. Know how to choose strong passwords
Passwords like “thisismypassword” or “rememberpassword” are examples you should stay away from. Think of something unique to you; use numbers and a mix of upper and lower case letters. Instead of creating a password that’s easy to remember, create a unique strong password, and take the time to write it down.
Here’s another tip: don’t use the same password over and over. You don’t want the hacker that broke into your Facebook account to also know how to access your online banking, Instagram, Gmail, Venmo, and Amazon Prime.
7. Practice safe shopping habits
When shopping online, remember to pay attention to website domains. If the website starts with “https,” it’s more secure than sites beginning with “http.” Remember to look closely at the website domain before you purchase those filters for the pool that are on a major discount.
8. Remember to protect your cell phone and other hand-held devices
Sometimes it’s easy to think of internet safety as only important for your laptop or PC. However, your phone, tablet, and other devices are at risk just as much, if not more. Many people use public Wi-Fi on their mobile devices even more than on their laptop.
Using a VPN on your phone and tablet will help protect your data no matter where you go or what Wi-Fi you’re connected to. Consider using a VPN that allows you to connect multiple devices on one subscription.
9. Backup your data
Backing up your data is important, no matter what. Avoid accidentally losing the photos you took on that trip abroad or those papers that took so long to write. Back them up on Google Drive, or somewhere you can access if something happens to your device. Remember, internet safety isn’t only about stopping hackers, it’s also important because it helps you avoid unwanted incidents like losing important work.
10. Turn ‘off’ your Bluetooth
Bluetooth works by using radio waves to make the connection between devices wireless. Like any wireless connection, it can be disrupted by hackers. By having your Bluetooth on, you make your data more vulnerable by exposing your device through the connection. When in public, do yourself a favor; check your settings and turn Bluetooth ‘off.’
Still looking? Consider investing in a reliable VPN
Keep your home safe with the best home security system.