Today almost all the world has access to the internet and it's being integrated into our day-to-day life whether we like it or not. There’s a lot of things we can do through the internet and it has made life so much easier. We don’t have to leave the house in order to have food, we don’t have to wait for banks, we don’t have to go outside and wait for a taxi; all this was made possible due to the advancements of technology and internet. Although there’s a lot of positivity, there’s also plenty of negativity lurking within. This article is a continuation of the practical tips and tricks which you can do to protect yourself from online criminals (the negative stuff). Don’t forget to read the previous article.
Use a secure browser when going online. The main tool used to access the internet is your browser. So if the browser is not safe, it’s like giving a backdoor pass for cybercriminals to take your personal data like passwords, bank credentials or websites you visited (and we certainly don’t want that to happen). To secure your browser you should do the following:
- Increase the privacy and security settings in your browser.
- Have the latest version of your web browser (update frequently)
- Use private browsing for sites you’re not sure.
- Only use secure websites (https) when dealing with financial operations.
Be vigilant when using public or free WIFI. Online criminals love to find potential victims connected to public WIFI. They use network sniffers which monitor and analyze network traffic and also harvest data that is transmitted over the network. One way to increase the security is by using private browsing which prevents storing cookies (your credentials). This won’t stop the cybercriminals, but it adds a layer of security. The best way to stay secure and keep your data private is to use a VPN (virtual private network).
Don’t click on random links. Some links might stumble upon you from very famous institutions or well-known, trusted brands or persons which will ask for your private information. Don’t do it unless you’re 100% sure of the authenticity. You will be redirected to fake sites which look very similar, but you should be careful.
- Check the URL if it’s exactly the URL you want because some links look similar but are not.
- Check for the SSL certification on the URL bar
- When you are asked to click on a link (your personal bank site for example), hover over the link and see if it will take you to your bank account or some weird link (ger549.te). If it’s weird don’t go.
Don’t forget to log out. Yes, this is something very common which slip our minds. Since we're used to using our own private PC’s (laptops, phones, tablets), when accessing financial services or social media, were not bothered to log out of them. But when we use public systems like at the office or even colleagues’ devices, we should be vigilant to always log out of our accounts. If you forget to logout of Facebook for example and the next person who will go on Facebook from that device will directly go to your profile. My recommendation is to use a virtual browser or private browsing so that your credentials will not be saved.
Don’t post everything about your life on social media. Sharing your life with others is good but too much will only come back to bite you. Putting too many personal details on your social media might lead the cybercriminals to get ahold of your financial information. Keep in mind to check your kids’ accounts so that they won’t expose too much information (home address, what you own, how you go to work, etc.)
Stay away from questionable websites. Don’t go or download content from shady websites (torrent sites for example). Even though this is not a guarantee that you won’t get infected because even from legitimate websites cybercriminals can inject malicious codes to unsuspecting visitors.
With these simple tricks, you can significantly improve your system's security. Always be vigilant when working online and the secret in keeping your data safe from cybercriminals is not only read what is here but also to act on it. Stay Safe!!