How To Stay Safe Online
Whatever your opinion is on the increased digitisation of modern existence, there’s no escaping the fact that the online world is now an intrinsic part of human life all over the planet. This change has happened quickly, leaving plenty of us vulnerable to the malicious intent of online scammers, hackers and thieves. By nature, the internet is constantly shifting the goalposts in relation to safety, security and privacy, so we need to remain vigilant in order to protect ourselves.
However, with so much information out there, it can be difficult to cut through and find the sound advice needed. Read on to learn some of the basics about staying safe online.
Sharing is Caring
First up is something that is often overlooked by people when it comes to protecting yourself online, and that’s choosing what to share in the first place. Just because it’s possible to upload every detail of your existence to the internet doesn’t mean that it’s advisable to do so. Whether you’re using social media, building a website, contributing to a forum, storing photos, shopping or paying a bill, be mindful of the information you’re entering and the trustworthiness of the platform you’re using.
For example, when using Stories on instagram.com or facebook.com, it’s tempting to post what you’re doing in real time, particularly when that’s something exciting and out of the ordinary. However, it’s good practice to save your uploads until either you’ve left the venue in question or the event has finished – otherwise, you’re broadcasting your location to the entire world. This opens up plenty of opportunities for those who may wish to do you harm; it might flag up that your house is currently empty and vulnerable to burglary or it could reveal your geographical location to somebody you’d rather not bump into.
Using the Toolbox
Alongside the development of ever more nefarious ways to steal people’s data and cause havoc on the world wide web, there are the tools with which to stop this or limit the damage that it does. One example that has gained traction in recent years is the use of a VPN or virtual personal network. Using a VPN allows you to connect to the internet without worrying about other people monitoring your actions or accessing the data that you choose to share. This is especially important when using public WiFi connections, like in a café or library, for example.
Once you’re safely online, you’ll find that conscientious websites will have measures already in place to protect you further. Responsible online platforms such as adyen.com, pokerstarscasino.com or wego.com use two factor authentication to ensure the safety and privacy of their customers at all times. When a site is handling sensitive information about people’s identities or is involved with transferring money, then it is essential that it has a robust security system in place. This method goes one step further than using a strong password and guarantees that nobody will be able to access your data except for you. Make sure you look out for these measures when choosing which online platforms to use.
Many people are still taken in by the classic phishing email so make sure that you remain vigilant. As the general internet-using public has become more savvy, so too have the phishing emails themselves. They will often claim to be from trusted sources like banks, internet providers and social media sites, but in fact still contain a link that, when clicked on, downloads a virus to your computer or starts tracking your keystrokes. This method of ‘hacking’ is still a big problem and one that shouldn’t be ignored or downplayed. Luckily, email providers have become more sophisticated and can often weed out a lot of the ‘junk’ mail that floods out inboxes; however, it’s still a good idea to be cautious.
It’s also important to remain vigilant when using other websites, as well as keeping an eye on your personal emails. Always check for a valid security certificate in the URL field and that the web address begins with the more secure ‘https’ rather than just ‘http’. The internet is a much bigger place now and, as such, it is easier to create a site that looks legitimate but is, in fact, a front for scammers.
Stay Up to Date
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself and your data is to ensure that all of your devices have the latest software downloaded. For many devices, such as smart phones and tablets, there will be an option found in Settings that allows for updates to happen automatically. Enabling this option means that you will never forget to update your device and the constantly shifting parameters of online security can be met head on by your devices, meaning that they remain safer (and easier) to use.