A few years ago, I used to think to install an antivirus is enough to keep my laptop secure when using the web. When I got Cox Internet for the first time, my Cox internet plan came with an anti-virus bundle to keep all connected devices secure. They also sent a manual emphasizing safe web surfing, which made me realize I need to do more to stay safe online.
Anyone connected to the Internet has some sort of risk to watch out for. The good news is by taking certain safety measures, one can reduce the chances of getting exposure to threats. By doing extensive research, I found these rules to be most effective for online safety:
1: Use Strong Passwords
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Choosing a strong password cannot be stressed enough. It’s the first thing you must do to protect yourself online. When setting a password, follow these rules:
- Make strong passwords
- Use a different password for each site
- Change your password at least once in six months
- Use a password manager for tracking your passwords
Don’t use your name, date of birth, or place of birth as a password. Never set “password123” as your password. Use a combination of special characters, capital letters, as well as numbers to create a strong password. If you are the type of person who forgets passwords, use a password manager to save them all in one place.
2: Be Wary of What You Download
All cybercriminals want to trick the visitor into downloading malware. This malware could be disguised in an app or a game. To play it safe, never download an app that looks suspicious. It’s best to check the reviews of the app before downloading it. NEVER download the app from a third-party site. Trusted sources are Google Play Store and Apple App Store only.
3: Use a VPN to Boost Network Security
While using Wi-Fi at home to browse the Internet is safe but when you are out and tempted to use public Wi-Fi, you are putting your safety at risk. It’s relatively easy for a hacker to access your device or personal information this way.
An affordable yet workable way of securing your network is using a VPN. This software encrypts your browsing activities and spoofs your IP address by changing your location.
4: Visit HTTPS Sites Only
Part of safe browsing is to visit only sites having “HTTPS” in their URL. This web protocol adds an extra layer of security and encryption. It also encrypts the communication between the user and the site. This means no one can snoop into your interaction with the visitor as well as the site.
Google warns opening a site that doesn’t have the HTTPs protocol. Don’t ignore this message. It’s meant to keep you from unsafe browsing.
5: Avoid Using Flash Drives
Flash drives are certainly here to make our life easy but along with storing extra data, they could be home to malware or virus too. Merely attaching the flash drive to your PC and opening a file can release malware into your system can corrupt all your precious data.
6: Practice Safe Shopping
Be vigilant of what sites you shop online from. Make it a rule of thumb to shop from sites that start with https. Look for an SSL certificate on the site. This is also an indication that the website is trustworthy.
Also, examine the site thoroughly. Identify the red flags and if the site doesn’t look genuine, avoid shopping from there.
7: Manage Your Security on Social Networks
Everyone has one favorite social network. Mine is Instagram, yours could be Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, or any other. Part of safe browsing is managing the security of your social accounts.
First of all, remove all unknown people from your social accounts. Then, check your privacy settings. Restrict who can tag you, see your posts, or even follow or send a friend request. Each social media platform has its privacy settings. Explore these settings and improve your account’s security.
Be careful what you post online. Don’t put every information out there or you are simply leaving a digital trace of your life.
8: Update the Operating System
Security loopholes in the operating system make it easier for hackers to infiltrate the system and launch a cyberattack. Don’t be among those who don’t update their operating system. Set your PC for automatic updates so that whenever a new version is available, your system updates on its own.
9: Install an Antivirus and Firewall
No user can claim their PC is secure and can’t ever get a virus. Without antivirus and firewall, your PC is like an unlocked house in which robbers can enter anytime they like. But once these programs are set up and placed in your PC, these programs will detect the threats and deal with them straight away.
10: Be a Vigilant Internet User
Be cautious of the sites you visit, the things you do online, as well as the information you share. Talk to your Internet Service Provider about the security measures they take to protect devices connected to the Internet. I called Cox customer support number to learn about their security policies for ensuring security and keeping safe.