How to Be Safe on the Internet

Introduction

With hacks, scams, malware and more, the Internet can feel like a dangerous place these days.

Keyboard with security key

But the good news is that by taking just a small handful of security measures we can greatly reduce our exposure to all these threats.

1 Safe web browsing and exercising caution

Safe Browsing

Always keep the following best practices in mind when using your computer or mobile device:

  • Be wary of what websites you visit and what you click on when browsing the web.

  • Keep in mind that certain types of sites such as social networking sites, adult sites and file sharing sites are more prone to have malicious content.
    Facebook Twitter Google Plus
  • Do not click on any unexpected pop-ups. If you receive an unexpected pop-up, regardless of what it may say or prompt you to do, just click the X in the upper right hand corner to close it.
    Fake Advertisement
  • Be extremely cautious with clicking on advertisements. Sometimes even legitimate websites will have a malicious or hijacked advertiser.
  • Do not open or download email attachments from untrusted senders.

  • Do not open or download email attachments even from trusted senders if they seem out of place or not ordinary for that sender.
  • Only install or run software from reputable sources.

  • When downloading software, always check the URL in the address bar to verify that you are actually on the company's website. For example, if you intend to download program X from the company Y and the URL in the address bar is not on company Y's domain, that would be an indicator that the download might not be legitimate.

  • If a website ever prompts you to install software to access a certain feature or function of the site, do not do simply click install unless you are certain that the site is legitimate and even in those cases it is always a best practice to note the software, check to see if you really do need it and if so to download it directly from the publisher's website.
  • Always think before you click!

2 Fake Ads and Phishing

The internet is full of people who would love to get your data. Fraud has become an industry and while shopping online you'll find any number of fake ads and forms just waiting for you to fall for them.

The use of fake ads or social engineering to gain your data for fraudulent purposes is known as phishing.
Phishing

When inputting any data make sure you are using the legitimate site. Sites with the correct security will tell you in the browser bar. This may be a closed lock or just green text.
Paypal url showing the security info

Avoid opening any emails from strange addresses or clicking on links within emails if you aren't aware exactly where they go. Phishing emails will never come from legitimate addresses.

Example of a Phishing email amazon.com@freephish.com

If you receive an email claiming to have a good deal that you want to use, navigate to the website yourself and avoid clicking the link in the email. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Always remember that no legitimate company will ask you for your password in email.

3 Keeping Yourself Safe

Tips for Safe Surfing and Shopping

Safe secure shopping image
  • Never shop from public Wi-Fi or a public computer. Publicly used computers can save your private information and it can be used by others.
  • Frequently scan your computer for malware using legitimate programs such as MalwareBytes or  Ad-Aware.
  • Use difficult passwords.
  • Use a credit card with fraud protection

Exercise Caution When Using Your Phone

Be cautious of:
  • What websites you visit.
  • What you tap on while on websites.
  • Links and attachments in emails.
  • Granting 3rd party apps permissions.
  • Who you let use your phone.

4 What is SSL?

Always use a secure Internet connection when making a purchase. Reputable websites use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission.

Look for the little padlock in the address bar and a URL that starts with https instead of http, as the s stands for secure.

Most browsers will tell you it's safe to give out your information by showing you a green address bar or a green padlock while unprotected ones will be highlighted in red.

For example:
Secure https example

An unsecure website

5 Chat

Chat rooms can be a great please to converse with people. While most people are good in nature, there are those that take advantage of unsuspecting people. Here are some guidelines to follow while talking in chat rooms.

example chat room

Do not give out your personal information

  • Provide the minimum amount of information on profiles you use.
  • Use a nickname or alias instead of your real name.
  • Do not give out your phone number.
  • Avoid posting photos of you or that were taken by you.

Avoid meeting people in person that you met online

  • If you do decide to meet with a person, make sure you go somewhere public. This will make for a safer environment for yourself.
  • Let a friend or family member know if you are going to meet someone and where you are meeting.

Stay in public chatrooms

  • Watch for people that may be asking for personal information.
  • Report people to a moderator or local authorities that may seem threatening or sexual in nature.

6 Account Security

Keeping your online accounts secure will help keep you safe.  The following steps are some guidelines you can follow that will help keep your account secure.

Security logo

Account Security

  • Log out of accounts when not using them.
  • Avoid using the option to stay logged in.
  • Deactivate any old accounts you no longer use.

Password Security

  • Do not use the same password on multiple accounts.
  • On supported sites, always use 2 factor authentication.
  • Avoid guessable security questions.
  • Avoid passwords containing your date of birth, last 4 of your ssn, or things directly related to you.
  • Avoid password using incremental letters or numbers as listed in the below examples
    Sequential Numbers 123789
    Sequential Letters ABCHIJ
    Repeating Characters AA22BB33CC44
    Common Keyboard Patterns qwerty
    123qweasd
     
  • Avoid using common words or phrases as a password.
    Bad Password Pa$$w0rd
    Good Password 7c%Z}70/6`/ai2V;

 

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With hacks, scams, malware and more, the Internet can feel like a dangerous place these days.

Keyboard with security key

But the good news is that by taking just a small handful of security measures we can greatly reduce our exposure to all these threats.

Safe Browsing

Always keep the following best practices in mind when using your computer or mobile device:

  • Be wary of what websites you visit and what you click on when browsing the web.

  • Keep in mind that certain types of sites such as social networking sites, adult sites and file sharing sites are more prone to have malicious content.
    Facebook Twitter Google Plus
  • Do not click on any unexpected pop-ups. If you receive an unexpected pop-up, regardless of what it may say or prompt you to do, just click the X in the upper right hand corner to close it.
    Fake Advertisement
  • Be extremely cautious with clicking on advertisements. Sometimes even legitimate websites will have a malicious or hijacked advertiser.
  • Do not open or download email attachments from untrusted senders.

  • Do not open or download email attachments even from trusted senders if they seem out of place or not ordinary for that sender.
  • Only install or run software from reputable sources.

  • When downloading software, always check the URL in the address bar to verify that you are actually on the company's website. For example, if you intend to download program X from the company Y and the URL in the address bar is not on company Y's domain, that would be an indicator that the download might not be legitimate.

  • If a website ever prompts you to install software to access a certain feature or function of the site, do not do simply click install unless you are certain that the site is legitimate and even in those cases it is always a best practice to note the software, check to see if you really do need it and if so to download it directly from the publisher's website.
  • Always think before you click!

The internet is full of people who would love to get your data. Fraud has become an industry and while shopping online you'll find any number of fake ads and forms just waiting for you to fall for them.

The use of fake ads or social engineering to gain your data for fraudulent purposes is known as phishing.
Phishing

When inputting any data make sure you are using the legitimate site. Sites with the correct security will tell you in the browser bar. This may be a closed lock or just green text.
Paypal url showing the security info

Avoid opening any emails from strange addresses or clicking on links within emails if you aren't aware exactly where they go. Phishing emails will never come from legitimate addresses.

Example of a Phishing email amazon.com@freephish.com

If you receive an email claiming to have a good deal that you want to use, navigate to the website yourself and avoid clicking the link in the email. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Always remember that no legitimate company will ask you for your password in email.

Tips for Safe Surfing and Shopping

Safe secure shopping image
  • Never shop from public Wi-Fi or a public computer. Publicly used computers can save your private information and it can be used by others.
  • Frequently scan your computer for malware using legitimate programs such as MalwareBytes or  Ad-Aware.
  • Use difficult passwords.
  • Use a credit card with fraud protection

Exercise Caution When Using Your Phone

Be cautious of:
  • What websites you visit.
  • What you tap on while on websites.
  • Links and attachments in emails.
  • Granting 3rd party apps permissions.
  • Who you let use your phone.

Always use a secure Internet connection when making a purchase. Reputable websites use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission.

Look for the little padlock in the address bar and a URL that starts with https instead of http, as the s stands for secure.

Most browsers will tell you it's safe to give out your information by showing you a green address bar or a green padlock while unprotected ones will be highlighted in red.

For example:
Secure https example

An unsecure website

Chat rooms can be a great please to converse with people. While most people are good in nature, there are those that take advantage of unsuspecting people. Here are some guidelines to follow while talking in chat rooms.

example chat room

Do not give out your personal information

  • Provide the minimum amount of information on profiles you use.
  • Use a nickname or alias instead of your real name.
  • Do not give out your phone number.
  • Avoid posting photos of you or that were taken by you.

Avoid meeting people in person that you met online

  • If you do decide to meet with a person, make sure you go somewhere public. This will make for a safer environment for yourself.
  • Let a friend or family member know if you are going to meet someone and where you are meeting.

Stay in public chatrooms

  • Watch for people that may be asking for personal information.
  • Report people to a moderator or local authorities that may seem threatening or sexual in nature.

Keeping your online accounts secure will help keep you safe.  The following steps are some guidelines you can follow that will help keep your account secure.

Security logo

Account Security

  • Log out of accounts when not using them.
  • Avoid using the option to stay logged in.
  • Deactivate any old accounts you no longer use.

Password Security

  • Do not use the same password on multiple accounts.
  • On supported sites, always use 2 factor authentication.
  • Avoid guessable security questions.
  • Avoid passwords containing your date of birth, last 4 of your ssn, or things directly related to you.
  • Avoid password using incremental letters or numbers as listed in the below examples
    Sequential Numbers 123789
    Sequential Letters ABCHIJ
    Repeating Characters AA22BB33CC44
    Common Keyboard Patterns qwerty
    123qweasd
     
  • Avoid using common words or phrases as a password.
    Bad Password Pa$$w0rd
    Good Password 7c%Z}70/6`/ai2V;

 

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