Don’t Make Your Password Too Easy To Guess
If you want to stay safe online, don’t even think of using a popular password for any of your website logins.
password, letmein, qwerty, 123456, abc123, 111111
monkey, dragon, baseball, iloveyou
If you have a one of these passwords or something similar - it will be incredibly easy for hackers to figure it out. So you need a strong password to stay safe online.
Creating a Strong Password
In this day and age, it seems like you have to create a password for just about everything you do online. And that can be a hassle. For one thing, it’s hard to keep track of them all. For another, it’s hard to know if you’ve created one that’s secure enough. Here’s how:
- Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and punctuation marks.
- Make it easy to remember by coining a phrase that includes all of the above.
- Don’t include personal info — like your phone number or date of birth.
- Use a different password for each site.
- Make sure it’s at least 8 characters long.
- Change your passwords often.
- Don’t let applications store your passwords.
- Regularly clear your browser cache and history.
Make Your Social Media Settings Private
Why give away all of your personal information for no reason? That’s what you’re doing when you don’t bother to make your social media settings private. Make life more difficult for hackers by protecting this important information. While you’re at it, think twice about posting things you’ll end up wishing you had kept private.
Use Different Browsers For Commerce And Fun
Make a point of firing up different browsers for different purposes. For example, you might use Chrome for online shopping and banking. And Firefox for YouTube and emails. This minimizes the risk of viruses and contamination from your social browsing ending up in your financial transactions.
Don’t Give Out Personal Details
With all the horror stories out there, you’d be wise to not broadcast your personal details unnecessarily. This includes things like your full name, social security number, date of birth, passwords, pin numbers, location, and school. Use discretion. Sometimes you will legitimately have to give out this info — but don’t do it without good reason.
Install Anti-Virus Software
Viruses are becoming more prevalent and more sophisticated. It is well worth the small sum required to install quality anti-virus software. Make sure you keep it up to date at all times.
Don’t Click On Untrusted Links
The beauty of the web is easy, fast access to information via hypertext links. Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to click on links that are not what they seem. Legitimate looking links and pictures may also lead you to fake sites — or even steal personal info from your browser. So, only open emails from people you know, to minimize the risk of getting viruses.
Use A VPN or Proxy
VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) add security to unsecured networks. Always use one, particularly when using public Wi-Fi. That way, eavesdroppers can’t see important stuff like your passwords, bank account details, or emails.
Only Purchase From Secure and Trusted Websites
Doing credit card transactions online always involves a certain amount of trust on your part. However, try to only use well known trusted entities such as your bank, Amazon, and iTunes. Be cautious about unknown websites that may or may not be for real. If the website does not use SSL — https:// — for your transaction details, take that as a warning sign that it should not be trusted.
Don’t Trust Public Wi-Fi Sites
Public Wi-Fi sites are incredibly convenient — but come with some risks. Anybody can be connected, so you can’t trust the network. Expect all info sent and received to be able to be read — or even altered — by any sophisticated user connected to the Wi-Fi. So try not to do any financial transactions or read sensitive email from a public Wi-Fi. Using a VPN on a public Wi-Fi can help minimize this risk.
Don’t Hook Up With Strangers You Meet Online
Let’s face it. You can’t be too careful in this day and age. That cute 20 year old girl may be some creepy middle aged guy stalking you with bad intentions. If you decide to take the risk and meet anyway, make sure you bring along a friend or two, tell someone where you’re going, and meet in public for your own safety.
Protect Yourself From Cyberbullies
Cyberbullying is a growing problem that can have serious and sad consequences. Real people get hurt by it. Cyberbullying has even led to suicides in some cases. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim. Don’t respond to cyberbullies. Tell someone in authority so they can help you figure out what to do.
Check Your Credit History
The internet is perfect for doing your online shopping and banking. But more and more people are falling victim to identity theft — don’t let it be you! Make sure you regularly check your bank and credit card statements, as well as your credit card history. That way you will quickly notice any unexpected purchases or change in credit score. Take action immediately if something doesn’t look right.
Use Parental Controls
Times have changed. Sure you trust your children. But it’s still a good idea to have constraints that can be enforced without you being there. Always use parental control software where available.
Educate Your Children
Even the very best parental control and anti-virus software can’t prevent risky behavior by your children. Their safety is paramount. And your best way to protect them is to teach them about safe versus dangerous online behavior. Set clear boundaries and expectations for their internet usage.