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5 tips to stay safe on the web

Because these days, you just never know.

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The internet is an important element in many people’s lives. It is a great place full of wonderful information, but it is also full of many dangers.

With hacks, scams, malware and more, it’s no wonder why the internet feels like a dangerous place; and the recent proliferation of devices, from smartphones and tablet to Internet-connected appliances, has opened us up to even greater risk.

The good news, however, is that by taking a small handful of security measures we can greatly reduce our exposure to all the threats floating around the internet. If digital security is a concern for you, then brace yourselves — things are going to get a whole lot better.

Here are some tips to get started:

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Create a Complex Password: We’ve all heard it before, but creating a strong, unique password for all those important accounts really is the best way to keep your personal information safe from danger. This is essential in the era of widespread corporate hacks, where one database breach can result in tens of thousands of user passwords being revealed. If, for some reason, you use the same password on multiple sites, a hacker can easily take that leaked information from one attack and use it to log in to your other accounts. The best advice: use a password manager to help you store and create strong passwords for all of your accounts.

After you’ve created a strong enough password, check to see if your online account offers multi-factor authentication. This is when multiple pieces of information are required to verify your identity. To log in to your email, for example, you may need to enter your password. Then enter another code and/or passphrase that’s sent to your phone in order for you to have access to it. If you create a password that’s too complex for you to remember, there’s no need to reinstall the OS from scratch, you can simply find some free online tools that can reset your password in just a few minutes.    

Practice Safe Shopping & Surfing: In today’s economy, shoppers and business owners not only have to worry about managing debt, but they also have to worry about cyber-attacks. When shopping online, or visiting specific websites for online banking transactions, make sure that the site’s URL address starts with “https”, instead of “http.” Also, check to make sure that the browser you’re using has a padlock icon somewhere near the site’s URL. This indicates to users that the website is, in fact, secure and uses encryption to scramble your data so it can’t be intercepted by hackers. Also, be on the lookout for websites that have misspelled words and/or bad grammar in their addresses. With the convenience of electronic payment options, you wouldn’t want your information to get in the wrong hands.

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Protect Your Mobile Life: Our mobile devices can be just as vulnerable to online threats as our personal laptops and tablets. As a matter of fact, mobile devices face new risks every day, such as risky apps and harmful links sent through by text messages. Be careful where you click, don’t respond to messages from strangers, and only download apps from credible app stores after reading another user’s review first. Make sure that your security software is enabled on your mobile, just like your computers and other devices.

Stay Up to Date: Although this is a fairly easy one, a lot of people still manage to overlook this crucial element. So remember to keep all your software up to date with the latest security patches. If you have a hard time remembering how often you should update your devices, turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it and make sure that your security software is set to run regular scans.

Use a Firewall: Being connected is a necessity in today’s world. That being said, practicing safe methods on the web should be a priority. Even if your network is secure, you should still use a firewall. Even against mobile devices, since they can present corporate security challenges which could result in sensitive information getting into the wrong hands.

“How does a firewall work?” you ask.

firewall

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A firewall is an electronic barrier that blocks unauthorized access to your computer along with other devices. Using a firewall also ensures that all of the other devices connected to your network are all secured with some sort of antivirus software, including the internet of things (IoT) devices like smart thermostats and webcams. This is important since many IoT devices like tablets aren’t properly equipped with security measures, giving hackers a vulnerable point of entry to your entire network.

As the percentage of users increases, so do the security risks. The threat has become so widespread that the U.S. federal government has implemented a research and development department designed to formulate a plan to develop technology and create policies to help minimize potential risks in cyber-attacks.

Thanks for the read! Did I miss anything important? What are some other things users surfing the web should keep an eye out for? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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