At Prestige IT, we are passionate about teaching others how to stay protected online, and with #SID20 among us, we want everyone here to feel equipped to use the internet as safely as possible.
Surfing the internet is a part of most people’s every-day lives. Whether it be for work, school, or leisure, we live in a world where the internet is everywhere we turn. Most of our children have internet access – even toddlers, if they watch YouTube videos or educational programs online. What many of us overlook is the risk of exposure through going online, and we forget to take proper precautions that will limit or eliminate that risk. Let’s go over some of the basic internet rules as a refresher:
- Watch what you share. Maybe this one seems obvious, but in giving out too much personal information on the internet, there may be no going back. Even though you might look back and delete certain posts, some things may still be saved deep online without you even realizing it. It’s so easy for personal information to get into the wrong hands. To avoid future problems, think twice about how much information (this could also be in photos) you share with your crowd!
- Turn on privacy settings. This one is especially important for your children with cellphones, tablets, iPads, laptops, etc. It’s a very easy way to browse through the internet safely, and to keep your location private at all times. (Parents, there are features that will allow you to track your children outside of turning off their location settings that will not give the rest of the world the same privilege!) It also keeps your personal information away from marketers and cyber hackers. Besides turning off your location, you can also enable Privacy mode on social media apps (such as Facebook and Instagram) so that strangers cannot access your profile.
- Choose strong passwords. At Prestige IT, we love apps like LastPass that help us create strong passwords and then secure them in an online vault. It’s true that it may take some time to record all of your login credentials into a password manager, but the long term benefits greatly outweigh an hour or two of your time. Understandably, the alternatives most of us choose is to either write everything down on an easy to lose piece of paper, keep an unencrypted spreadsheet on our computer, or the most popular technique – use a single easy-to-remember password for everything. Although convenient, each of these options present a variety of security vulnerabilities which leave the door wide open for hackers to gain access to some if not all of your accounts.
- Consistently update antivirus software. Our systems are constantly updating for a reason. If we don’t stay on top of installing these updates, we could be lacking the most recent patches, bug fixes, or security features that help fight off known and potential future threats. In most cases you can enable automatic updates on your devices and software via the settings menu. However, even with automatic updates configured, it’s always a good idea to perform periodic manual checks to make sure there are no pending updates that were skipped or require a restart to finish installation.
- Always be careful when providing bank information. This is information that you obviously would not want to end up with a hacker, and with so many people making online purchases, it’s something that they’re always looking for. If you are unsure about whether or not you completely know and trust the site you’re purchasing from (or providing ANY information to), an easy way to check is to look at the address bar. Does it begin with ‘https’ instead of ‘http’? The ‘s’ stands for secure, which is typically a good indication that your connection is safe. Another quick tip for good security practice is to never save banking/card information to an online account or your web browser. The convenience of having your information readily available to make purchases makes it very tempting, but with companies constantly under attack, your information is only as safe as the company who you’re trusting with your sensitive data. Even with all their resources and teams of security professionals, large corporations can make mistakes and leave your information unprotected and therefore free for the taking.
- Use a secure VPN connection in public. A good chunk of our browsing time isn’t always spent within our secured home networks. If you have to hook up to public WiFi, there is a higher vulnerability risk. Make sure your device is secure, and consider using VPN (virtual private network) connection such as NordVPN. If you don’t want to bother with a VPN, at the very least, think critically about what you are accessing on a Public Network and whether or not it can wait for later. The question you should ask yourself is “would I mind if someone else on this network were able to see my activity?”. If the answer is yes, perhaps save it for when you get home. For example, when you’re at Starbucks, anyone and everyone has access to the same network you do, and many times on a Public Network the security controls are loose which provides a proficient hacker easy access to all other connected devices. They can see and record everything you do, including typing in passwords or entering sensitive information.
- Watch what you click. In general you want to just be cautious about what you’re clicking on. Cyber hackers are smart, and it’s easy to fall into their traps. You’ll especially want to be aware of spam or phishing emails, “free” offers, click bait titles and more. If an offer sounds like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If something is asking for tons of personal information in exchange for a reward, stay safe and exit out! A quick way to check whether a link is valid or not is to hover-over the link without clicking and see what website the link is pointing to. If the link in the email is written as www.facebook.com , but when you hover-over it says something completely different like www.myhackingsite.com, don’t click. It sounds obvious, but many times we are too much of a rush, or too trusting to take the time to double check links before we click.
You can browse through the rest of our blog posts for more tips on staying safe online, but if you keep these main rules in mind (and educate your peers, family and workers about them), you will drastically reduce you and your circle’s risk of internet exposure, which is extremely important, especially in 2020! Visit https://saferinternetday.us/ to read more about Safer Internet Day in your country!
Still feeling unsure? We get it. That’s why we offer a no-cost ($1k value) cybersecurity assessment. We don’t want to see anyone fall prey to a cyber attack, but the truth is, sometimes we never see it coming, or believe it will happen to us. Click on the image for details, or contact Prestige IT at https://prestigeit.io/contact-us/ with any questions.