The internet is part of our daily life. We use it for entertainment, work, education, shopping and much more.
And most of us are connected to the internet 24 hours a day via our phones. These small devices have changed the way we live our lives.
That’s both good and bad. We carry around so much personal information on our phones and often even more on our home computers. And that information must be protected.
Tips To Browse the Internet Safely
It’s important to know how to stay safe online. This applies to computers, smartphones, tablets and smart home devices. So let’s look at some steps we can take to protect ourselves, our finances and our personal information.
1. Stay Up to Date
Keep your computers, tablets, smartphones and smart home devices up to date. This includes operating systems, browsers, programs and apps. Install critical and security updates when they become available, and enable automatic updates.
2. Understand Current Scams
Keep on top of the latest online scams. Websites like Snopes and Google are good places to search to find out about current scams and other dangers.
3. Enable Firewalls
Be sure the firewalls of all your computers and routers are enabled. A firewall helps to protect your computer from malicious activity.
4. Install an Antivirus Program
Install a reputable antivirus program and set it to update automatically. Antivirus programs are available for computers, tablets and smartphones.
5. Set Up a Guest Network
Setup a guest network on your router. This allows visitors in your home to connect to the internet but prevents them from accessing your home network.
6. Ignore Unknown Emails
Don’t click or respond to emails, phone calls or text messages from addresses and numbers you do not know. (This is money expert Clark Howard’s favorite way to handle spam.)
7. Use Passwords (and Never Share Them!)
Password protect all of your devices and never share your password with others. Change your password often and never use the same password twice. Consider using a password manager to save your login information. Most password managers also offer a built-in password generator that will generate a random, complex, secure password for each website you log in to.
8. Visit Reputable Sites Only
Be careful when shopping online and use only reputable sites. Always use a credit card online — never a debit card — and consider using a credit card that is strictly for online purchases.
Look for the “https” in the web address. That indicates that the site uses encryption and is secure. Don’t click on links or pop-ups in your web browser that prompt you to buy something online. Often these are fake or look-alike websites that take your money but never deliver the order. Instead, always go directly to the website you want to order from, a site you know to be safe.
9. Check Privacy Settings
Check the privacy settings on all of your devices and for the websites you visit such as social media sites.
10. Back Up Data
Back up your data regularly. If you are the victim of a malicious attack, you could lose access to your own information and files. If you have a backup, you can restore your data.
Ransomware attacks can hold your data hostage and demand payment from you. Never pay ransomware and report it immediately. You can contact the FBI to file a report.
11. Never Use Public Wi-Fi
Use public W-iFi only when necessary. When you are at home and connected to your network, you can take steps to enable security. You can’t take the same caution on a public Wi-Fi network. In fact, anything you do on public Wi-Fi can potentially be seen by others and expose you to potential fraud, identity theft and the theft of personal information.
12. Watch What You Post on Social Media
Social media is particularly dangerous for children and teens who often share far too much information. Most social media sites require you to be at least 13 years of age or to sign up, but it can be easy to bypass that.
Adjust privacy settings to enable the best protection for each of your accounts. All social media users should be aware of the many dangers of these sites. Never share personal information such as your full name or the names of family members.
Don’t post vacation plans, work and home schedules, your address or other contact information. Don’t “check in” at the locations you visit. The less you share, the better.
13. Play Games Online With Caution
Be careful with online gaming. Kids are communicating with real people who they may or may not know. This can expose game players to threats such as identity theft, bullying, harassment and online predators. Kids need to know they should never reveal their identity when playing games. They should use an avatar or nickname. Parents should monitor the gaming activity closely.
Keep the lines of communication open in your family. Regularly sit down and talk to your kids about what is happening in their lives. Talk about online activity and safety often, and make your children aware that they should come to you with any questions or concerns.