The Internet is a part of virtually everyone’s life these days, and it’s important that we all realize just how insecure it can be. Every day, hundreds of websites are hacked in an unbelievable variety of ways. At the same time, millions of people are victims of fraud when using smartphones or computers over insecure connections.
Let’s talk about some ways to improve our safety in the cyber environment. Here are some tricks and tips from security experts that will help keep you safe and secure when using internet on a day-to-day basis.
- You should ALWAYS use a strong and unique password for every website that you visit or have account on it. It’s an obvious guideline, but worth reiterating. An effective way to achieve this is by using a secure password manager (e.g. LastPass). The majority of these tools allow us to have a “master” password which you can use to access to all the passwords you have stored and manage them pretty easily within your browser.
- Change your passwords often and never reuse an old password on another site or account.
- Don’t use common terms for passwords. You should never use your pet’s name or anything easy to guess for your password. Phrases with numbers, symbols, and capitalization (if allowed) are the most secure.
- Use 2 step authentication whenever possible. This adds a second layer of security when trying to access to your account. The website will send you a code to your phone in order to log in.
- Set your smartphone to lock after a very short idle time, and set a passcode to unlock the device. Whenever possible, use a stronger security level like a strong password instead of the simple 4 digit code or pattern to unlock. If biometric identification like fingerprinting or facial recognition is available on your device, use that.
- Be mindful of the apps that you install on your device. Always read the permissions for each download. It doesn’t seem logical that an expense tracking app would require access to your text messages, right? Proceed with caution!
- Keep your data private and make sure that your privacy settings in your mobile device are configured properly.
- Always be wary of free apps. Keep in mind that every free app is not totally free. In most cases you are giving them access to personal data on your phone.
Browsing the internet
- Up-to-date modern browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are less-targeted browsers by hackers due their strength. Choose a trusted and reliable browser when you go online.
- You should never click links on emails or text messages that look like they come from your bank or another financial account. If you think that the message might be valid, then log into your account rather than using the link in the email.
- Be extremely careful with Potentially Unwanted Applications (aka. PUAs). They can show up when you download free software. When you begin the software installation, carefully read all the notes throughout the process and uncheck every third party app that you don’t need to install, like toolbars, adware, or any browser extension.
- Be cautious when you download. We have access to virtually everything you could think of on the web, such as movies, music, programs, and so on. Be very careful of which sites you use to download content. There are hundreds of good sites that are perfectly safe to use, but there will always be a lot of malicious websites designed to steal your sensitive information and even your money. Check the SSL security on every website that you visit by looking at the URL. A secure site will have a little green padlock and https:// preceding the URL sequence. It’s also a good idea to ask to your friends if they have used the site before and have experienced any issues. If you don’t feel confident, don’t click!
- Always be on guard. If you see an ad or banner on a website claiming to give you something if you click it, steer clear. Suspicious ads on insecure websites can contain malware downloads and other damaging programs.
- Enable the “click to play” feature in your browser. This will disable all flash content in your browser and will enable it only if you click on it. This feature prevents websites from running flash content and will speed up page load time.
- Don’t trust anyone or anything. The internet is definitely not a safe place and we need to be aware of it. If you receive a gift, invitation, or someone is asking you to do something, always take time to ask do I know the sender? If you know the sender, contact them to verify that they were the ones who sent the link and not a hacker. Even legitimate websites could end up serving malware or dangerous software without knowing it.
- The most important thing you can do is to always have an AntiVirus system installed and active on your computer. Even a free one is better than nothing, but obviously it’s best to buy a license to a good AV software that includes anti malware, phishing and browsing security.
- Keep everything up to date. Always install updates in your operating system, installed software or apps in your mobile devices. Updates bring new security patches that helps to prevent vulnerabilities in your system.
- Run regular scans. This will keep your PC clean and infection free and is always a good thing to do.
- Back up everything. We never know when we could be victims of a hack or system crash. Having a recent backup of your data will give you some peace of mind. Backup pc data and any important mobile devices.
Be safe out there.