How to Stay Safe Online

how to stay safe online

There’s no denying that the internet is an exceptional resource, but it has also opened us up to great risks, including hacks, scams, malware and more. With 3.74 billion internet users in the world as of March 2017, there’s no doubt we all have a lot on the line when it comes to our most private and personal information. So how do you stay safe online? The good news is that if you’re cautious enough and take some security measures into account, you can protect yourself online.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe online:

Choose the best password

Keeping your personal and financial information safe is the best way to help you defend yourself against hackers. Since passwords serve as digital keys to your networks of friends, colleagues and banking and payment services, one database breach could potentially reveal tens of thousands of user passwords. In fact, once a cyber-attacker gains access to your email account, they can use the “forget your password” setting to access your login information for several other websites including your online shopping or personal banking websites.

There are many ways that a hacker can crack your password. The simplest way is to try to guess your passwords based off of your personal information gained from your security questions, which is the main reason you shouldn’t include personal information in your passwords. Using a password cracker which goes through multiple combinations of characters until it manages to log in is another way that hackers can gain access to your accounts. So, the shorter and less complex your password is, the quicker it will be to find out the correct combination of characters.

When creating a password use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Make sure your passwords are at least eight characters long, so that they are difficult to guess. Use abbreviated phrases but play around with the letters so that you’re using the first letter of each word and changing words like “to” to the number “2.” Don’t use a single word in any language and don’t use your name, the name of a family member or of a pet. Don’t use the same password across multiple websites and make sure you log out of websites when you are done using them and don’t save your passwords to any specific browser.

Make sure your connections are safe

Once you’ve taken care of your passwords and logins, see to it that your connections are secure, especially when you’re on the road. When you’re at home or at work, you’re usually connected to a password-protected router that encrypts your data, but once you decide to check your email or social media on the bus or in the nearest café, you’re at the mercy of public Wi-Fi. This makes it relatively easier for a hacker to access your device and information.

Use a firewall

Using a firewall, an electronic barrier that blocks unauthorized access to your devices will help you ensure that all your devices are connected to a secured network. Firewalls work as filters between your computer or network and the internet. They enable you to program which information will get in and which information will get out, so that everything else is not allowed.  The main use of a firewall is to protect your computer from malicious programs which are usually designed to acquire your personal information for the purposes of identity theft.

Be a smart clicker and sharer

Avoid falling for phishing scams or hacks by accidentally clicking on a link or giving out your personal information. If you receive what seems like a spam email with a subject line that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious about what you share as well as click, particularly when it comes to your personal information which could potentially be used to impersonate you.

Practice safe shopping online

When shopping or making any financial transactions online, make sure that the site’s address starts with “HTTPS” (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) rather than just “HTTP”, and has a padlock icon in the URL field. “HTTPS” is the secure version of “HTTP” and guarantees that the communications between your browser and the website you’re on are encrypted. Keep your guard up when it comes to websites that have spelling mistakes or bad grammar in their addresses.

Stay safe when using messaging apps

Time spent in Social and Messaging apps grew by an astounding 394% since 2016, so that they’ve become a major part of our everyday communications. In fact, since we spend our time sharing loads of information on our messaging apps, there’s no wonder we sometimes tend to forget that we’re communicating over the internet, which makes our communications vulnerable.  Not all messaging apps are created equal when it comes to their take on security, and many allow users to store or pass credentials through weak encryption, so it’s vital that you know which apps you can trust. Be sure you’re using one that puts the protection of your private data ahead of everything else.

Viber was one of the first messaging apps to introduce full end-to-end encryption by default, Viber guarantees that no one but you and the people you’re talking to can see your messages or hear your calls, not even Viber. Read about all the ways in which Viber protects your data and makes sure that none of your information is sold to a third-party.

Taking preventative measures whenever it comes to your safety online will help you save yourself a big headache if you become targeted by any malware. Make sure you backup your data on a regular basis and follow our tips to guarantee you’re safe online. Let us know on Twitter what you do to stay safe online.