We are in the season of scams, malware, and hacks, putting many of us at risk when it comes to the use of the internet. The rise in the use of smartphones and tablets as well as other machines that may require an internet connection is making matters worse.
These are the basis under which February 6 was set aside to celebrate Safer Internet Day. This year’s theme, “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you”, will bring stakeholders across the world together to discuss ways of creating a better internet for everyone considering the threats out there.
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— UNODC (@UNODC) February 6, 2018
As part of activities to mark the day, here are some security measures we can take to ensure a less dangerous use of the internet.
Be careful of what you share online
We are often ready to share our personal information online without looking at the potential risks. Let’s be very careful with what we share, especially our personal information. The hackers are out there; ready to impersonate you or guess your logins and passwords if you don’t heed this warning.
Use complex passwords
Always create strong passwords for all your accounts in order to ensure your personal and financial information are safe. According to a software company, McAfee, if you reuse your passwords, a hacker can take the leaked data from one attack and use it to log in to your other accounts. The company advises the use of a password manager to help store and create strong passwords for all accounts. You could also check if your account has multi-factor authentication. Here, several pieces of information would be asked to verify your identity. And when you want to log into your account too, you would need to enter a code that is sent to your phone, as well as your password and passphrase. Do change your passwords regularly to remove the chance of your account being accessed.
Check what you click
Many a time, spam emails, “free” offers, click bait and online quizzes lure us into clicking dangerous links and revealing our personal information. Avoiding these basically means being wary of offers that demand too much information from us or those that are too convincing.
Access your accounts from secure locations
Many of us take this for a ride. We tend to jump on to free WiFi at restaurants, coffee shops, and other public places, forgetting that the network may have been compromised and that could give a thief all the time he needs to collect all your data. Webroot.com advises that if you must access the accounts, you might want to look into a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to ensure an encrypted connection to your home or work network.
Beware of online shopping
When shopping online, or visiting websites for online banking or other sensitive transactions, always make sure that the site’s address starts with “https”, instead of just “http”, and has a padlock icon in the URL field, McAfee advises. This basically tells you that the account is secure and so cannot be easily intercepted by others. You are also warned about websites that have bad grammar or spelling errors in their addresses, as those could be copycats of legitimate websites.
Check threats from your mobile phone
Your mobile phone is often in danger to risky apps and links sent sometimes in the form of a text message. Basically, know what to click and only download apps from official app stores. Always do this only after reading what other users have to say about the app.
Your security software must always be enabled on your phone too.
Your software should always be updated to enable you to have the latest security patches. Your security software must also be set to run regular scans. If you do not want to worry about all these, internet security experts advise that you always turn on your automatic updates.
Be careful who you meet online
We meet so many people online but scores of them are often not who they claim to be. According to InfoWorld, fake social media profiles are usually used by hackers on unsuspecting web users. So be cautious of your social life online. Always!