How to Stay Safe and Secure Online

The World Wide Web is one of mankind’s greatest inventions to ever exist. Its creators circa 1960s did not know what one-of-a-kind gem they have unleashed into the world. Modern internet breakthroughs have taken everything (i.e. communication, business, and monetary transactions) to the next level. It influences nearly every transformation that happened to the world, marking it as an incomparable creation up to this day (read more).

Billions of people rely on the power of the internet even with the simplest task such as looking at today’s weather forecast or searching an unknown word. As social media dominate our society, people are becoming “digital natives”, whether they want to admit it or not. They are now used to a life where the internet is the first thing you visit in the morning and the last thing you do at night.

With everyone is on the internet (even Boomers are now using Facebook), it is hard not to join the societal bandwagon and much harder to get off it. As much as it is beneficial, the internet is hardly a safe and secure place to be in. There is a reason why free apps and software require so much private information from you—and it is not out of the goodness of someone’s heart.

Data and information are the web’s prime commodities and assets. Everywhere you browse, there is the personal information needed or privacy policy you need to agree to. And let’s be honest, no one has ever read a 6-page privacy policy to the dot. But according to this article (https://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2012/03/05/if-youre-not-paying-for-it-you-become-the-product/#4d7117bb5d6e), you might need to or risk getting virtually invaded.

To protect yourself, here are some smart tips to improve your online security while enjoying the internet.

1. Avoid oversharing

The most basic way of protecting your online privacy is to limit what you share on social media. Better yet, refrain from actually using apps and sites that require personal information such as Facebook. They may be harmless at first glance, but when you actually look into its privacy policies, it is not as secured as you thought it would be.

You can boost your online security by using strong log-in credentials. Create strong passwords without using easy-to-guess information such as your birthday or your pet’s name. Make it a combination of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Also, avoid filling out social networking sites About Me page with in-depth information about yourself. Cyber hackers can use this info to answer security questions on important accounts like your bank account.

2. Utilize private browsing modes

stay safe and secure online

Several web browsers now offer an incognito or private mode to do your web surfing in private. This prevents your browser from recording your online history, transactions, log-in credentials, location, and temporary internet files. The incognito feature allows you to safely surf the web, especially if you are using public and company desktops and free WiFi connections.

However, private browsing does not totally mask your internet activities. Your ISP or Internet Service Provider can still track and record your browsing activity, even in private mode. To address this, you can either use a different search engine or a virtual private network.

In general, VPNs are secure as they offer a controlled and encrypted browsing experience that bolsters your privacy to a whole new level. It even keeps your ISP’s prying eyes away from your browsing activity and habits.

3. Think before you click

The internet is brimming with “free” apps and software. All you need to do is enter a few pieces of information and click that download button. Before getting every downloadable app out there, always remember that if you are not paying for it, then you are the product. Free apps are too good to be true. Be skeptical and always think before you click.

Also, avoid clicking unknown links to prevent compromising any important information. Phishing attempts and online scammers often use unknown links as bait to trick you into providing valuable information. Their usual move is to send fake emails that will take you to a site that looks like your credit card provider’s website.  

Remember that financial institutions will never ask you to provide sensitive information over the internet. If you have your doubts, give them a call and ask them regarding suspicious links on your email.

4. Use secure and official stores when you download

The word free has always had a huge effect on an individual. As such, it is often used by scammers and malware to invade our online security. It is okay to download free movies, music, and games as long as it is on a secure website.

Free internet downloadables are usually embedded with malicious links that serve as a backdoor for cyber hackers. Upon clicking it, you are giving these hackers free access to your system which includes your files, photos, and security information.

The best thing to do is to avoid downloading on suspicious websites, especially if you are someone who stores sensitive data in your system.

5. Be careful when you shop

Online shopping is today’s latest trend. However, it is also a great platform for scammers to access all of your private information in one place (read more).

The key to staying safe is by activating your browser encryption. This is an automatic warning system that tells you when you are about to access an unsafe site. You must also avoid shopping online through public networks. This means that you must refrain from making online purchases through free wireless connections such as airport and hotel Wi-Fi.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan