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    How Can You Stay Safe on the Internet?

    Horrifying stories have been featured on the internet about people who have lost millions of dollars. Some also have had their careers destroyed because they were irresponsible when using the internet. Internet is a two-edged sword that should be used with extra caution.

    Every year, many customers become targets of cybercrime and cyberbullying. Many more have become victims of identity theft and even physical harm from people they met online. With advancements in technology and easy access to the internet through mobile devices, the risks are ever-changing and growing.

    Statistics from cybersecurity ventures estimate that global cybercrime will likely cost $10.5 Trillion yearly by 2025. This data underscores the truth that the internet is a hiding zone for shady characters. Nevertheless, you do not shut down your internet; you can still use this powerful tool responsibly and avoid scammers. Let’s consider what you can do to be safe.

    10 Practical Ways to Stay Safe on the internet

    The internet can help with your personal development and business growth. You can also use it for fun such as media, Everygame poker, video games, or chatting with friends. However, if mishandled or used irresponsibly, it can destroy what you have worked hard to build. Here is how you can be careful.

    Ensure your personal information is limited and professional

    People tend to be risqué when using social media and give unnecessary information to the public domain. It is true that your LinkedIn profile can help you land that dream job, but prospective employers are not interested in your home address and personal relationship. On the other hand, criminals would love to have their hands on your personal information.

    If you want to use your social media pages to promote your business, share only your professional background and expertise. You could also share how prospective clients or employers can get in touch with you. Unfortunately, many unsuspecting youths and adults give out sensitive personal information to strangers in a bid to be popular.

    Some susceptible individuals with limited technical know-how, like the elderly, are also easy targets for cybercrime. Do not be fooled by a profile picture or presupposed honesty; scammers have been committing crimes for years and have mastered their art. You can avoid them by providing only professional information and keeping personal information private.

    Ensure your Privacy Settings are on

    We know that marketers would love to know all information about you to design their marketing strategies. Hackers are also interested in this information. Like marketers, hackers also monitor your browsing and social media activities. They can crack your passwords by simply monitoring the websites you are visiting.

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    However, you have the power over what information people see from your browsing activities. Simple actions like turning on your security systems can significantly protect your data.

    Some social media websites like Facebook provide users with privacy-enhancing features or settings. Since companies look for your personal information for marketing purposes, these settings may be deliberately hard to find. Therefore, it is up to you to find and enable them to help keep your browsing history and social media usage private.

    Did you know that the browsers can keep your search history? You can protect yourself by clearing the cache data or closing the browsers if you have used public or library computers. Some have left their social media accounts and emails without logging out on public computers and have learned the hard way.

    Set Strong Password

    You probably have heard this before, but people still make mistakes with passwords and make themselves easy targets for hackers. Interestingly people often choose short and weak passwords because they are easy to remember. However, think about this: if you have something of value like gold, to what extent will you go to protect it?

    Of course, you want a password you can remember, but you also want a password that will take months, if not years, to crack. A good password is easy to remember and hard to guess. The password’s length and characters determine its strength, and you could use a password difficulty checker to establish its safety.

    It is also good practice to use different passwords for different accounts. This is also where many people fall short since they use one password across all accounts. That can be tragic if the password is breached, giving the hacker access to all your valuable information. If you are afraid of forgetting many passwords, you could use password manager software.

    A strong password should be unique, complex, and hard to guess. Mix letters (caps and lower-cases), numbers, and special characters when creating a password.

    Practice Safe Browsing

    You will probably not walk or allow your child to walk in dangerous neighborhoods. In a similar vein, do not visit these dangerous online neighborhoods; otherwise, you are putting yourself in harm’s way.

    Cybercriminals thrive on dangerous sites filled with lurid content. They often use these contents as bait since many people will be tempted. For instance, when searching around on less-than-modest websites, someone might be more inclined to give away information without thinking.

    Web surfers are focused on satisfying their desire and could easily provide passwords to get the content. Being safe on the internet starts with the person in front of the keyboard. If they let their guard down, it’s very easy to end up somewhere they never meant to be.

    Unsafe browsing gives the criminals a perfect opportunity to send you a clickbait with dubious content. A click on the bait could compromise your data security and infect your machine with malware. You could protect yourself by resisting the urge to look at these contents.

    Interestingly, Google has safe browsing, which can be turned on or off. If you want to be safe, keep them safe mode on unless you want the dubious content on the dangerous streets online.

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    Be sure to use secure internet connections

    Public Wi-Fi connection provides an ideal breeding ground for cybercrime. If you log in to public Wi-Fi, you have no guaranteed security, and criminals can steal your information within minutes. Cyber security experts often talk about “endpoints”- points where PN connects to the outside world as a major concern for using public Wi-Fi.

    How can you protect yourself? Since cybercriminals are likely to invade your device through a local internet connection, ensure you use secure connections. If you fill out a form requiring sensitive information like a bank account number, you can wait until you have a secure connection.

    Additionally, you can improve your safety while browsing by using a secure VPN connection. VPN provides a buffer between your device and the server, meaning you can use public Wi-Fi without anyone monitoring or accessing your data. Though public Wi-Fi is often free, the cost can be damaging, so take care because free things are sometimes expensive.

    Make purchases from secure sites

    Online stores make life easier since you do not need to walk to the store and buy. With a click of a button, you can buy anything you want anywhere after providing your bank account or credit card information. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are also looking for this information, and they often hide behind dubious online sites.

    A legitimate site should provide secure and encrypted connections. According to Boston University, you do well to examine sites with addresses beginning with https: and not http: since the ‘s’ denotes security. The address bar to the purported store should also be marked by a padlock icon.

    You do not want to provide sensitive information about your financial documents to a dubious site. Some of these evil sites have unrealistic offers, so take care not to fall for their gimmicks.

    Be cautious about what you post

    Have you ever heard the common statement ‘ internet never forgets’? That statement is true; the internet has no delete key even if you deactivate the account.

    Criminals phishing for information about you will unearth even the deleted posts and pictures. Removing any original comments or pictures from your social media pages does not eliminate copies made and shared on the internet.

    One rule can keep you safe from future embarrassments: do not post anything online that you will not want your prospective employer or mom to see. At this edge of technology, a picture or comment you thought was forgotten can become the new trend and even go viral.

    Your career and reputation can be destroyed by one irresponsible act posted on the internet. Therefore, before you click the post icon, reread the comment and analyze if it is suitable and appropriate.

    Ensure your antivirus is up to date

    Although antivirus will not protect your data against all malware, it will undoubtedly detect and eliminate most malware. You can ensure your antivirus is effective by keeping them updated. Unfortunately, many people turn off updates, thus making their devices subject to malware attacks.

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    Keeping your OS updated is also a good practice since this will automatically update your applications. An updated system has an extra security layer against virus invasion. Malware could be a creation of cybercriminals who want to steal your data, hence the need for an updated antivirus.

    Be careful when meeting people online

    People use aliases or fake profiles on the internet, and you could meet a different person than the one you think you are meeting. These people may sometimes even not be real. Hackers are masters at using fake social media profiles to prey on unsuspecting web users.

    Scammers create believable stories to connect emotionally with their victims before pouncing like an armed robber. Therefore, be sensible and cautious when online like you would be in real life.

    Before sharing any details about yourself or your family with someone on social media, ensure you know them. Furthermore, the information you share even with your friends online should not be sensitive.

    Other people in your house you also want to protect are your children and teens. Children are often bullied by their peers online, leaving deep emotional scars because they know those involved.

    It is important that you know what your young ones are doing online, who they are involved with, and what you can do if they are bullied. Your children may be naïve about online bullies and scammers, so protect them.

    Double-check links before clicking

    Before you click any links sent to you by mail or on a website, ensure they are trustworthy before you click any links sent to you. You could mouse over the link to see the full preview in the status bar. Check the preview to see if the link matches the originating site.

    For instance, if the link you have shows it is from (Insert Company Name), but the preview indicates “www.real-company.com”, you know it does not match the official link from Google: www.realcompany.com.” If the email asks you to log in, it is good practice to visit the company’s website and log in from there instead of from the email.

    Googling the company and establishing the link’s authenticity is a safe way to protect your data. If the email request that you log in to your accounts, you can call to confirm the request.

    Don’t allow your browser to remember your password

    Almost all accounts on various sites have passwords, and browsers want to save yor time or re-entering the password by remembering it. Since most people are impatient, they give the browser the ability to remember passwords. You could even forget your password because you rarely key it whenever you log into your account.

    Another person will easily access your data if the browser remembers your password. The computer will not recognize the person operating it, meaning yours is not safe with a browser remembering your passwords. If you are afraid of forgetting the password, write them down or use password management software.

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