How to Stay Safe Online: 10 Easy-to-Follow Tips for 2023
Cyber-safety is a term used to describe online security. It’s fast becoming a trendy topic because of the increased rates of cyber infringements recorded daily. These cyber infringements include cyber-stalking, phishing scams, privacy invasion, identify thefts, and lots more. The effects of cyber crimes on individuals and corporations alike are far-reaching and extremely adverse. As such, we should take all necessary steps to ensure that we eliminate all foreseeable threats to our cybersecurity.
While it’s impossible to eliminate all possible cyber threats, we can beef up our online security by avoiding some. In doing so, we would also be mitigating the harsh consequences of cyber infringement on our cyberspace to the barest minimum.
This article would shed some light on the importance of cyber-safety. It will also provide you with the relevant tips you need to stay safe online. Come along!
Why Is Cyber-Safety Important?
It’s no news that we live in a digital world. Every day, we are continually discovering more ways to improve the quality of our lives via the internet. But as we further gravitate towards the internet, we are faced with specific threats that try to dampen our enjoyment of it. These threats are multi-faced and can inflict unprecedented damages on us if left unchecked. Maintaining cyber-safety is key to ensuring that we are as far away as possible from these threats.
If you manage an e-commerce shop, the chances are that you already understand the critical role cyber-safety plays in maintaining your brand credibility. Online shoppers prioritize cyber-safety and would only shop on websites that are safe and can guarantee their information security.
However, cyber-safety doesn’t benefit online business owners alone. Whether you’re an individual merely connecting with friends on the internet or an organization hoping for a wider audience reach, you should prioritize cyber-safety for the following reasons:
1. Information Protection
Some information or personal data are so sensitive that they’d cause unfathomable damage if they get to the wrong hands. Cyber-safety ensures that such sensitive information is kept private and protected from the view of prying eyes. If you own an online business, protecting your customer’s data should be of utmost priority as you’d want to maintain a good reputation and avoid the legal tensions arising from compromised data. Cyber-safety not only helps your business to build client’s trust, but it also keeps your business data out of the reach of your competitors who may want to use them to your disadvantage.
2. Protection of Financial Transactions
The internet has provided a faster and more convenient platform for financial transactions through online banking and e-commerce. With this advantage comes the burden of financial fraud. Internet safety tips assist you in avoiding the standard scam methods deployed by online fraudsters. Adhering to relevant cyber-safety tips helps keep you alert and reduces the risk of losing your hard-earned money to cybercriminals.
3. Prevention of Identity Theft
What’s worse than stealing sensitive information online? Identity theft is. Identity theft doesn’t just mean that your sensitive data is stolen; it also means that someone uses it to perpetrate fraud. Not only can these identity thieves make you lose money, but they can also commit a crime in your name. Yes, you could get arrested for a crime committed by someone who stole your personal information. Resolving extreme cases occasioned by identity theft is draining and time-consuming. Sometimes the resulting emotional distress is horrendous. Practicing online safety makes you less vulnerable to identity theft.
Tips to Help You Stay Safe Online
Now that you understand the criticality of staying safe on the internet, what can you do to guarantee your safety as you surf the web? Here are some crucial tips to keep in mind if you want to stay safe online:
1. Use Secure Internet Connection
A secure connection uses encryption to secure data flow between two devices. Insecure Internet connections (or unencrypted connections) make it easy for hackers and malicious attackers to get hold of information not meant for them. With encryption, the information stolen is useless to the data thieves as they wouldn’t be able to read them. One way to secure your internet connection is to avoid using public WiFi. It would help if you also used a secure VPN connection at all times.
2. Use Strong, Uncommon Passwords
Having a weak password is equivalent to leaving your key at the door post after locking your door. It’s no security at all. Many hackers continuously try different possible passwords before ultimately getting the correct one. You can frustrate their efforts by using passwords that are unique and difficult to guess. For example, anyone snooping around your internet profile would know your dog’s name. Using your dog’s name as your password is, as such, a terrible idea.
Ensuring that your password is strong ensures that it combines letters, numbers, and symbols in upper and lower cases. It would help if you kept your passwords private. Don’t use one password for multiple accounts, and make sure your passwords are as long as you can remember too. The longer the password, the more secure it is.
3. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication on Your Accounts
Asides from using strong passwords, you could take your online safety game a notch further by enabling multi-factor authentication on all your accounts. Multi-factor authentication protects internet users from hackers by requiring more than just one piece of information to access a website or application. The requirements could be passwords, biometrics, tokens, etc. Multi-factor authentication counterbalances the risks of a hacker gaining access to a computer system via a compromised password. It requires additional information to verify the authenticity of the user.
4. Clear Out Your Browsing History and Log Out of Sites As You Finish
One of the simplest and yet most important best practices on the internet is logging out of sites and clearing out your browsing history as you finish with them. Here’s why — When you log in to a website, session cookies are created. These session cookies help the website to identify you. The website knows that you’re no longer available when you log out and, as such, stops receiving requests from the cookies.
Hackers can steal these cookies and use them if you don’t log out when necessary. The website cannot tell users apart and would always assume it’s you because you’re logged in. Not only should you log out of sites, but you should also clear your browsing history too. Clearing out your browsing history is much like cleaning up after you — it prevents any unauthorized user from picking up your trail and monitoring your online activities.
5. Screen Your Content Before You Post
You can never be too careful when it comes to posting online content. You should understand that there are certain kinds of information that you should never post online. Your posts should always be civil, respectful, and unprovocative to avoid being targeted by cyberbullies. Screening your content before posting also helps you to sieve out specific information that should be personal to you. While filtering the information that can go out to the public, endeavor to keep your profiles confidential. Keeping your profile private ensures that strangers don’t access information that is meant for your consumption.
6. Don’t Give Personal Information to Strangers
You’re just a click away from meeting someone new in this digital age. While this helps us improve our social skills, we should always tread this path with caution. Just as it is offline, not everyone you meet on the internet has good intentions. For this reason, you should be cautious when interacting with someone you met online. Private information, like your address, full name, phone number, or even your favorite recreation center, can be exploited by dangerous persons. When meeting physically with someone you met on the internet, insist on a public meet up point and ensure you go with someone you can trust.
7. Update Your Computer Software Regularly
Software updates are for our benefits. Most of the time, software developers see the need to upgrade their software if they discover vulnerabilities that make you susceptible to cyber attacks. They boost their websites by fixing such vulnerabilities and improving software security. Ensuring that you install the latest software upgrades on your computer puts you some steps ahead of potential cybercriminals.
8. Install a Firewall
A firewall acts as a barricade to shield your computer system from unauthorized access and malicious attacks. Installing a firewall on your computer helps to screen incoming data to ensure that they’re safe enough for your computer. It does this by cross-checking incoming data with pre-set parameters to verify that their requirements have been met before accepting them (or rejecting them).
A firewall doesn’t just fight against hackers and malware; it also allows you to secure data you want to keep locked in. Users can configure a firewall to block out content that they find inappropriate or do not want to see for any reason. Some parents use a firewall to control what their children view on the internet — this is one form of internet safety for kids.
9. Be Careful With Your Downloads
Just as you should be careful with what you upload on the internet, you should also be cautious when downloading content online. Some hackers are smart enough to package malware and present them to unsuspecting internet users as useful applications. Such malware can steal sensitive data from your computer if downloaded. To avoid this, always download apps and programs from trusted sites only. Paying attention to what you download or click can also help you avoid being a victim of phishing scams.
10. Use Non-track Search Engines
From data theft to hacking, privacy invasion, malware attacks, and even cyber-stalking or bullying, the risks associated with continuous internet usage are too numerous to mention. The fact that technology changes with jet speed invariably predisposes unsuspecting internet users to newer and more intense methods of cyber-attacks. For this reason, internet users should always be alert and proactive when using the Internet.
In achieving cyber-safety, it is necessary for internet users to place premium time focus on prevention instead of cure. Prioritizing precautionary measures over curative ones ensures that we avoid the adverse effects of cyber attacks that we may never recover from if they occur.
The precautionary tips related above are vital in securing your personal information online at all times. Your journey to online safety and information security begins when you strictly adhere to them.