Exploring the Internet can be an exciting and fruitful experience, but there are certain safety precautions you should take to protect yourself online. To make sure your Internet experience is safe and enjoyable, follow these seven simple rules of Internet behavior. These guidelines will ensure you stay secure and have the best chance of finding what you’re looking for without encountering any unpleasant surprises along the way.
The dangers of spam
Spam is a potential menace that can lurk around every corner of the Internet. It’s a problem for any business, especially one with an online presence. The easiest way to stay safe from spam—besides never entering your email address in a web form—is by being vigilant and monitoring your inbox regularly. When you see something suspicious, don’t just delete it. Report it as spam or unsolicited mail instead. Gmail users have an additional feature that allows them to block unwanted mail from specific senders; it will even alert you when an email from that sender comes through again so you can take action if necessary. You should also use strong passwords for all of your accounts (which we’ll get into later) and enable two-factor authentication wherever possible.
The dangers of phishing
Phishing is a serious Internet-safety problem. Fraudsters use fake email and websites to get victims to share their private information (like passwords, bank accounts, credit card numbers). People fall for phishing scams every day because they don’t take simple precautions like checking an email address or thinking twice before clicking on a link. You can follow some basic safety rules – like only entering your sensitive info on legitimate sites, not following links in emails from people you don’t know, and deleting suspicious messages – to help protect yourself. If you receive an email that looks suspect, contact your financial institution or company directly before taking any action. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
The dangers of scams
Before you sign up for any product or service over the Internet, research it. Scammers often create fake websites for companies that don’t exist, or use logos and names that sound familiar to trick people into clicking. One of the easiest ways to verify a company is legit is by Googling its name. If a website has been around for years and offers great reviews from users and experts alike, it’s probably safe. (But if you run across one that looks too good to be true, don’t click through.) You should also pay attention when using your credit card online—scammers have been known to access shoppers’ accounts once they’ve had their cards number stolen in skimming scams.
The dangers of malware
Malware refers to a wide range of software that can infect your computer, phone, or tablet. Some types of malware will steal passwords or credit card information; others may be used for cyberattacks or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. A DDoS attack occurs when a malicious hacker uses thousands of other devices and computers to flood one device with information, knocking it offline. Malware is often hidden inside spam emails or in attachments downloaded from email and social media accounts, so you should always treat your inbox as if it’s full of virus-filled files that could cause damage. One way to combat malware is by keeping your operating system up-to-date and using antivirus programs like Microsoft Security Essentials.
The dangers of viruses
Staying safe online means going out of your way to avoid getting infected with a virus. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a computer (or enjoy modern conveniences) ever again, but it does mean knowing how best to protect yourself from viruses and hackers. Your first line of defense is an internet security suite; these programs scan for malicious code and make it easy for you to manage firewalls and other settings. Just remember that no program is completely secure—even if there are no signs of malicious activity today, your computer will continue being vulnerable tomorrow. Always keep your antivirus software up-to-date!
The dangers of identity theft
The internet makes it easier than ever for identity thieves and scammers to target victims. The best way to fight back is by learning how criminals try to gain access, so you can avoid those tricks, traps and red flags. And, of course, by having a plan in place in case your information does fall into a criminal’s hands. Here are seven simple Internet guidelines that will help keep you safe and secure online
Staying safe online when shopping
Instead of using a credit card, use an alternative payment method, such as PayPal. If you’re shopping online, protect your personal information and make sure you are always logged out of sites when you’re not actively using them. It’s also important to keep your operating system and software up-to-date in order to avoid potential security issues. Protect your computer with anti-virus software and firewalls, too. And if you don’t have secure Wi-Fi at home or work, find a free public Wi-Fi spot that offers encryption before submitting any sensitive information online.