With the internet available on a desktop, laptop, or mobile device, you have the world at your fingertips. The internet is a vast network that contains massive amounts of information, and it's growing every day. But as helpful as the internet is, it's also full of potential dangers. Without careful internet safety, online safety, and computer safety safeguards in place, your personal and financial information could be at risk. Using the Internet could also result in theft, cyberbullying, or other risks to personal well-being. That’s why your safety on the internet is crucial.
To help with your internet safety, we have provided this cyber safety guide with tips for staying safe online and online safety resources included.
One’s online safety and security is of the utmost importance. But why should someone learn how to be safe online? Below are the most common following internet safety tips essential for all.
Hackers lurk in every corner of the internet people frequent. Email, websites, social media platforms, and apps just to name a few. A person’s worst nightmare is their account or device under the control of a hacker. Often, they will utilize fake content to lure unsuspecting victims into their schemes. For example, a hacker may create a fake Facebook profile impersonating someone just to obtain one’s personal information and hack their account. Other methods include fake Wi-Fi networks, email and phone spoofing, and phishing.
The motives and methods of scammers and hackers often overlap like phishing and spoofing. Scammers typically seek to obtain someone’s personally identifiable information. They can utilize one’s PII in a variety of ways including:
Online predators on forums, social media apps, and messaging apps are a huge problem. And that’s not just for kids, but adults too. According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, 1 in 25 youth in one year received an online sexual solicitation where the solicitor tried to make offline contact. They look to target people who are more likely to be persuaded and are naive, specifically children and teenagers. Predators will often create fake profiles pretending to be someone they’re not to appear appealing (aka catfishing). So, if you are a parent, do what’s necessary to ensure your child is staying safe online and on their devices.
Do you know what information there is about you online? Most don’t realize that with every post and photo shared, they leave a digital footprint leading straight to them. This information is typically contained in one’s online accounts. However, hackers and other online criminals can easily access these accounts and attempt to obtain one’s personal data. Once this occurs, the information could be utilized to commit fraud and identity theft, or be sold to third parties. This is why it’s essential for someone to learn how to stay safe online.
If you have a cell phone, you understand the feeling of not knowing what you would do without it. People use their phones to communicate with others, browse online, take photos, conduct work tasks, and more. Sadly, your device is susceptible to being compromised with malware and being taken over by hackers. All your personal information, accounts, texts, and memories compromised and possibly gone forever. However, if you follow basic internet safety tips, this can be avoided entirely.
This point mainly applies to parents of children. With social media and search engines like Google, it can be difficult to protect young eyes from explicit and violent content. Children could simply type something accidently in Google and come across adult photos and videos. Or they could follow accounts on social media they should without their parents knowing.
These are just a few of the many reasons why it’s important to follow the below tips to stay safe online and on social media.
When it comes to staying safe online, keeping your information private and secure is a priority. First, ensure your phone has lock security whether with a pattern, pin, Face ID, or Fingerprint ID. With your online accounts, utilize two-factor authentication and/or security questions to prevent unauthorized access.
Specifically for social media, there are several precautions you can take including:
As most computer users know, those devices come with a built-in firewall that is typically enabled automatically. Firewalls control all network traffic to ensure nothing dangerous invades your device. With other devices like phones and tablets, you will have to utilize a firewall software or app as most phone operating systems do not include a firewall.
It’s common for hackers to remotely and discreetly download malware onto a device via a download. This can be done with a simple click of a link by the device user, connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, or downloading legitimate-looking software. So, every once in a while, review the downloaded files on your device and delete any that are old, unnecessary, or suspicious.
With all of your online accounts including banking, email, and social media, create strong passwords. What makes a strong password? A strong password is one you only use for one account, is 12+ random characters, and is personally unrelated to you. For example, a password containing your dog's name, the street you live on, and your birth year is not good to utilize.
Updating your computer, phone, tablet, and other devices is essential for online security. If a device is out-of-date, hackers will look for software flaws and vulnerabilities to exploit to obtain access and control of it. Often, device software updates are means to fix these security flaws.
Phishing is the most commonly utilized by online criminals, mainly scammers. Phishing scams comes in many forms including email, messages/texts, and fake Wi-Fi networks and websites. It can be hard to identify phishing, but one thing you can do is be careful of any links sent to you by someone unfamiliar.
Major Internet Safety Tip: NEVER connect to a public Wi-Fi network. Yes, it may be tempting to do so when out and about, but don’t. You can’t trust the person hosting the public network has property security protocols, if it was created by a hacker, or it is infected. Instead, utilize your private Wi-Fi network when at home or a password-protected mobile hotspot.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) comes in the form of an app or software. It ensures that when someone is on their device and connected to a public network, the data being sent and received is protected from prying eyes.
One of the amazing things about the internet is being able to shop for practically anything - clothes, phones, furniture, etc. However, not all websites on the internet are legitimate and/or properly protected. If you plan on shopping online, only do so on websites you recognize like Walmart, Target, and Amazon. You can tell if a website is secure by seeing if the URL begins with “https”.
Since Google is the most popular search engine, this feature seemed essential to mention. As long as you have a Google account, you can enable Google Safe Browsing. This tool helps users stay protected from being exposed to dangerous files, sites, software, and more. It also protects you on Gmail, Google Chrome, Android device, and more.
Whether you are surfing the web on your computer, phone, or tablet, utilize antivirus software. Such software can aid in protecting your devices from invading internet threats including malware, viruses, spyware, and unauthorized access. So, if you’re visiting a website that is run by a hacker, antivirus software will quarantine malware utilized before it causes damage.
Besides the tips for internet safety above, we’ve compiled a list of various online safety resources. Please note, we highly recommend sharing the above internet safety tips with your family.
Now you have the essential internet safety information to be safe on the internet. Just follow these internet safety tips and guides, and you won’t have to worry about online threats again!