Today, the internet is our primary source of information, means of communication, and, for some, even a workplace. Now that we spend a lot of time online, the digital world’s capacity for bringing profits is constantly increasing. With so many people involved, it came as no surprise that those who do not want to work yet still crave money flooded the internet in an attempt to trick other people into giving them their money or to take it by force – without you even knowing about it.
Your purse is not everyone’s aspiration, but safety has become a matter of great concern – for good reason. Every day, many internet users fall victim to scams, hackers, phishing, malware, etc. The elderly, youngsters and inexperienced users are especially prone to it. Here are some tips on how to stay safe in the digital jungle.
#1. Mind what you click
Being cautious is the first step to online safety. You are likely to receive spam containing information that is designed to be alluring and make you want to click on the link provided or respond. Say, you may be offered a job that requires little to no efforts, but they claim it can help you earn a lot of money. Some letters include files, be it something obviously suspicious, like .exe files, or some other malware in disguise looking like an image. Whatever the letter, always check the e-mail of the sender: if it is a letter from a reputable company, e-mails like firstname.lastname@example.org are never used. It is what follows @ that can help you figure out who has contacted you. Even if it’s not a popular email service, be careful and do not click on any links unless you are sure it is from a safe source.
E-mails are not the only clickable sources of danger. When surfing the net, you come across a wide range of banners, ads, pop-up windows, etc. Again, mind what you click. Do not insert your personal data in any forms. When downloading files, make sure you have clicked on the right link, as many websites that aim to install some ad-oriented software or something worse use lots of download buttons to mislead you. Sometimes hovering over a button or link enables you to see where it will take you, but it does not work in all cases.
#2. Stop using the same password for all websites
You probably already know that QWERTY is not an option. Choosing a password is a tricky thing. It should be difficult to guess, so do not use your personal data (especially the year you were born in). Your password should be at least 8 characters long, including both letters (uppercase and lowercase) and numbers. Some websites also allow using symbols (like – and +).
Not only should you make sure your password is a hard nut to crack, but you should also use different passwords for different websites. Diversify them without making them follow the same pattern. For instance, amazonkey123 and facebookkey123 are not the best options.
It may be difficult to remember all the passwords you use, but there is antivirus software and password managers that can store your passwords safely and help you switch between devices without having to enter them again. Besides, you can simply write them down on a sheet of paper – there is no way digital thieves will have access to it.
#3. Learn more about signs of internet safety and avoid the digital underground
What we mean here is that you should learn more about what signs of safe pages there can be. For example, there are https websites that are protected using special software designed to prevent malware from attacking you. The image of a padlock to the left of the URL is also indicative of a certain degree of protection.
As you use the internet, you start developing a taste for good websites. It is not about design – it is about what can (supposedly) be trusted. Some websites are so obviously full of scams that you want to close the tab ASAP. Others are more secretive and use sophisticated software and well-written texts to make you do what they want you to do. So, be aware of what you are browsing and where dangers can lurk – scam developers often target people who use websites for illegal content sharing, adult content, etc. Steering clear of this part of the internet is a good strategy.
These are basic rules that apply to any internet user. Reading a comprehensive safety guide, of which there are many, is also of use. Do not neglect online safety: it can result in identity theft and cost you time, money, and peace of mind when using the internet.