In today’s world, students, parents, and kids should be aware of the dangers that lurk online. The internet provides an immense knowledge base for everyone, but it also presents hazards. There are many cybercriminals and cyberbullies that often target the most vulnerable members of society. People should take the right precautions to ensure they are safe online. Here is an internet safety guide with tips and the best practices to stay safe while browsing the web.
Internet Safety Guide: 7 Tips To Follow
1. Protect Your Computer
It’s crucial that your computer has an anti-virus and runs the latest software updates for any programs installed. Having up to date software ensures you’re using all the newest code patches and removes any vulnerabilities found in old versions of the software. It’s recommended you have the software programs set to automatically update, so you don’t have to worry about it and manually do it. Regarding anti-virus programs, some computers like Windows and MAC’s already come equipped with their own malware protection, so an additional program might not be needed.
2. Use A Secure Internet Connection
Perhaps one of the most common internet safety rules that most of us are guilty of breaking is using public WiFi with no protection. Public Wi-Fi can open you up to hacking by common methods such as malware injection, man in the middle attacks, and WiFi sniffing.
If you plan on using public WiFi, be sure to use a VPN to protect your data and prevent a hacker from getting access to it. Even if you don’t plan on using public WiFi, using a VPN even when connected to your local WiFi adds an additional layer of protection to keep your data safe from hackers. It can prevent your phone from getting tapped by a malicious user.
3. Use Complicated & Unique Passwords
One of the easiest ways that people get hacked is by using a common or weak password. You should teach your children and keep yourself accountable when setting up new passwords. As a top security practice, your passwords should be at least 12 characters long, use numbers, use lower and upper case, and include special characters. This will ensure that your password isn’t easily cracked by the typical password cracking tools hackers use. It’s also never a bad idea to use a password manager. This way, you can set up unique, complicated passwords for different websites without needing to remember each one. Since we are all guilty of being lazy sometimes, a password manager also makes everyone much more likely to use a complicated password in the first place.
4. Monitor Online Activity
While it’s essential for parents to trust their children, sometimes it’s a good idea to monitor what they’re doing online. Cyberbullying is a real threat, so watch your child’s internet activity and verifying they’re not being cyberbullied or that they’re not the ones doing the cyberbullying. Similarly, some websites might not be appropriate for kids of certain ages. You can always use parental controls to prevent access to specific websites. If you want to keep yourself accountable, you can also add programs that prevent you from visiting websites for certain periods of time.
5. Resist The Click
It doesn’t matter how good an anti-virus or security program your computer runs if you aren’t cautious about what you click on. No matter how tempting it might be to click on the link of an email you receive or when browsing a random website, this can easily lead to your computer getting compromised if you aren’t careful. A single click can cause a malicious program to be downloaded in the background and send your computer data to malicious hackers. In other cases, it can cause your entire computer or mobile data to become encrypted and require a payment to a hacker in the form of Bitcoin. This situation tends to occur in what is known as ransomware attacks.
6. Consider What You Post Online
Precautions should be taken about what gets posted online if you or anybody in your household posts on social media. People can find out a lot about someone by scrolling through their posts. Even something as simple as making your email public can have consequences. Apart from cybersecurity issues, there might be real-world issues as it’s not unheard of for potential robbers to use social media posts to determine when someone isn’t home. Everyone needs to be careful about what gets posted online since there are malicious opportunists in all corners of the internet.
7. Never Share Your Password
No matter who you’re talking to, there are very few reasons why you will ever need to share your password with someone legitimately. Once again, it won’t matter how difficult or long you made your password if you easily hand it over to someone. You should also set up 2-factor authentication on any important accounts that hold sensitive data. This can include your online bank account, social media, and email. In the worst-case scenario where you accidentally share your password or someone figures it out, you can potentially save yourself from being hacked if they don’t have access to the second factor. The second authentication method often involves receiving a code with a text to your phone or using an authentication app like Google Authenticator to submit a temporary code.