The internet is a staple in many people's everyday lives. It is a great place full of wonderful information, 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.
Part 1: Protecting Your Identity
1. Choose strong passwords. Passwords are like the key to your accounts - only the person with the key can access them. When choosing a password, you want to make sure you choose one that is unique, strong, and not easily guessed by strangers or those close to you. Choose a password that uses letters, numbers, lower case, upper case, and characters.
2. Be mindful when installing programs or agreeing to terms. When you sign up for newsletters, install programs, or agree to anything, read the fine print. If you do not want to receive junk mail or get put on a telemarketer list, look for a small box near the bottom of the page that asks if you want to receive information and offers from other companies. The best sites will have a statement listed that they will not sell your name to other companies (though they may still send you e-mails themselves).
3. Do not give out personal details to strangers. Don't give your full name, address, or phone number to anyone online that you don't trust or know. This is especially important in chat rooms, when negotiating jobs or deals, or making plans through meet-up sites.
4. Don't fall prey to phishing scams. Phishing e-mails are messages that appear to be from legitimate companies, such as your bank or stores where you've shopped, that provide links to fake websites and ask for personal information.
5. Keep your eyes peeled for online scams. Online scams crop up everywhere. These scams can pop up in e-mails, tweets, Facebook posts, and many other places. Don't click on links that don't look like a real address or contains a lot of letters and characters that look like gibberish.
6. Limit the information you share on social media to provide the highest level of social security. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other social media sites are part of most people's every day lives. On Facebook, people post their maiden names, their parents' names, their birthdays, the birthdays of their children, their hometowns, their home address, their home and cell phone numbers, along with myriad other personal information. This information gives anyone with a computer just about every essential piece of information about you. Limit what you share online to protect your identity and privacy.
7. Have multiple e-mail accounts. It's best to have three accounts. Multiple e-mails help you separate different aspects of your life, gives you official and non-official addresses, and can help you cut down on spam and privacy issues.
Part 2: Protecting Your Connection
1. Use an anti-virus program, an anti-spyware program, and a firewall. Surfing the internet without these things is unsafe and invites spam, hackers, and viruses onto your computer. Having these safeguards on your computers protects you from things you might not even realize are threats. Make sure to keep them updated to catch the latest threats.
2. Secure your wireless router. Many homes have wireless networks that connect computers, mobile devices, tablets, and gaming systems. Having a wireless network is convenient, but also can leave your devices and information vulnerable.
3. Turn off file sharing and network discovery when using a public wireless network. These both put your files and system at risk for being opened by anyone on the wireless network, not just hackers. If you are within range of public wireless networks but don’t need to be online, turn off your wireless capabilities altogether.
4. Always check for secure transaction info. The best companies will have many security devices in place. You may see a gold lock at the bottom of the page to indicate a secure site. When giving any bank details or other information, make sure the connection is secure.
5. Download files from trusted sources. When downloading files or software, only download from sites that have been rated or verified by trusted sources. Choose downloading resources that are upfront about price and ratings and vet their downloads (ex. download.cnet.com).
6. Do not open e-mail attachments. Unless you know that a friend is sending you a .doc, .pdf, or other file to view, don't open the attachment. Some junk e-mails may contain viruses or spyware that can harm your computer. These e-mails may be automatically marked as "spam" or "junk," but virus-ridden emails from unwitting friends can also slip through.