10 Ways to Stay Internet Safe
Updated: Feb 18, 2021
Written by: Abbey Horne
The Internet can be a Scary Place. Here are 10 Tips to Stay Internet Safe!
1. Watch Out for Phishing Scams - Emails and websites are the most common trick hackers use to get you to disclose private information. Do not click on any unfamiliar links provided, attachments, and pop-up screens. A common method of phishing attack is account compromise. This involves sophisticated cyber-criminals taking email addresses from websites such as LinkedIn and impersonating them, emailing people from the same company and asking them to reveal information (Source). Hackers using your contacts' names to contact you will have an address that does not match the address belonging to that contact, but they know that many will just see their contact's name and respond. Always check the email address connected to the sender, especially if the email seems unusual.
2. Personal Information - Your social media can make you susceptible for hacking. Make sure you use a strong password, do not post information like addresses/locations, mother’s maiden name etc. And keep your account private, do not accept anyone you do not know. Now we have accounts for everything that require and email and a password and most of the time the accounts we are signing up for provide you with security questions to answer if you ever needed to get back into your account. But the information needed for these security questions can often be found on your other social media accounts such as Facebook. An example of a security question is “What is your favorite restaurant?” or “What is your mother's maiden name?” many of the hackers trying to gain access to your account can guess these answers by looking further into your social media accounts making you vulnerable for a hacker to gain access to your information.
3. Do You Read Privacy Policies? - Everyone knows that most people do not read word for word or many not at all maybe you should. Privacy policies provide you with information the site will use of yours. You may find something you may not be comfortable with the website or app using. ’The policies also often outline companies’ reasoning for collecting (and sometimes selling) your data, according to the research. “The data market has become the engine of the internet,” he said, “and these privacy policies we agree to but don’t fully understand help fuel it," (Source).
4. Public WIFI Might Not Always be Free- Using public WIFI can make you vulnerable to outside threats, which can cost you more than just money. Information on the device using the free WIFI can send your personal information such as your bank account number, personal photos, and other data directly to hackers. Make sure you are considering this the next time you accept free WIFI or public networks (Source).
5. Online Shopping Tips - Be careful when shopping online. Always check the address bar to make sure you are making purchases from the online store you intended to. It is best practice to only buy from sites that are known for their reliability and secure transaction processing.
6. Downloads - Hackers and cyber criminals’ goals are to trick you. For example, they may send a link to download an app or program and, when you click on it, it actually infects your system with malware/spyware which can then send them all of your personal information and key strokes. Cyber criminals disguise their acts in different apps ranging from games to weather apps. So, do not download apps coming from a suspicious site, program, or email that does not seem legitimate. If it looks off and you get any discomfort from the way you received the link, go with your gut.
7. Always Hover Over Links- Watch out for links sent via email. Facebook or other social media, even when it comes from, or looks like it comes from, a trusted source. Make sure you review the page link opens and If it is not what you expected or you do not recognize the link, close your browser. There are several services you can use to verify a link. Google Safe Browsing is an easy one to use and all you have to do is type in this URL: "http://google.com/safebrowsing/diagnosticsite=" then add the address or IP address you want to check. This will let you know if it has hosted malware in the past 90 days (Source).
8. Passwords - Do not use the same password for everything. Make sure you use a mix of numbers, symbols, and letters (upper and lower case). “Using the same password for more than one account is like having one key to unlock every door you use. If a bad guy steals or copies the key, every door is vulnerable. Don’t make it easy to get to your information should one of your accounts becomes compromised,” (Source). There are many phones now that will offer secure passwords which are extremely difficult for a hacker to guess. Utilize this took if your phone offers this service. If not, there are many paid and free apps that are very reputable and secure which can do this for you.
9. Social Media Posts - You may not realize it, but someone can gain a lot of information for one single post. Whether you tag someone or a place that is already giving a cyber criminal too much information. Avoid posting information that can give your location or connect you to other people away. For example, Facebook posts popular quizzes with questions like what was your first car, the city you were born? Giving cyber criminals answers to security questions. Maryville University's post, Viral Surveys On Facebook Are Fraught With Risk (Source), gives a list of examples questions that cyber criminals commonly use in what seems to be fun and innocent social media quizzes.
10. Up to Date Antivirus Program - A security software can keep your protected from most threats so make sure it is up to date, this allows you to stay with your systems updates to ensure a vital layer of security.
Following these 10 tips can greatly reduce your risk of being hacked. If you would like to see more cybersecurity tips, check out more of GPA's Tech Talks here.