Internet Safety Tips: DOs and DONTs
Stay safe online with these rules
The Internet is one of the greatest inventions in human history. In just a few decades, it has revolutionized our existence. We use the Internet for commerce, education, communication, socializing, entertainment, and much more. The Internet is also making our PCs, devices, vehicles, and machinery smarter and more effective.
Internet safety statistics
- 71% of companies worldwide were affected by ransomware, and by the end of November of 2022
- 18% of clicked phishing emails in 2022 came from a mobile device
- The number of the detected cyber threats on Mac computers doubled in the past two years
- The most dangerous threats come from a set of known, mature tools and tactics that an entire ecosystem of cybercriminals rely upon
DONTs of Safe Online Behavior
1: Don’t share your personal information
One of the most overlooked Internet safety tips has to do with sharing personal information. We’re so comfortable with the Internet that we don’t hesitate to share personal information on message boards or social media platforms with the public. Vulnerable people, such as children who overshare online, can be susceptible to cyberbullying, sexual predators, doxxers, and swatters.
Oversharing confidential information online can also make you more susceptible to an account breach. Hackers can piece together pieces of information on public forums to design a more compelling phishing attack. They may also use information from your digital footprint to breach your login security. For instance, your account could be hacked if you share information on Facebook about your pets that matches one of your account’s secret answers.
2: Don’t download from unknown sources
Think twice before downloading unlicensed software, pirated programs, or downloads from untrustworthy websites and links. Such downloads may carry malware like viruses, Trojan horses, or spyware like a keylogger. Run a virus scan if you suspect you have privacy-breaching malware on your system.
3: Don’t open suspicious attachments
We all know the dangers of opening suspicious attachments. They can automatically take you to malicious websites or carry malware like a macro virus or ransomware. Yet, some of us still do it because we’re curious or because we’re anticipating something in our inbox.
Taking the risk is just not worth it. A bad attachment can impact your personal security and your family’s safety, and even hurt your organization.
4: Don’t use public Wi-Fi
Using a public WiFi network at the park, mall, or airport can be convenient but risky. Such networks aren’t as secure as networks at the office or home. Threat actors may also set up fake public WiFi networks to steal your data or initiate a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack.
If you simply have to use public WiFi, avoid using the connection for sensitive work, like a banking transaction. You can also secure public WiFi with a VPN connection.
5: Don’t become a victim to phishing, smishing and hacking
Phishing attacks are a type of online fraud where threat actors send fraudulent emails, texts, and social media messages, or set up websites that imitate legitimate businesses in an attempt to deceive people into providing confidential data such as passwords, credit card numbers, or bank account information, or download malware such as ransomware. These attacks are becoming more frequent against individuals and organizations. Smishing basically means the same thing, but is referred to cyber attacks via text messages.
If you see a suspicious email or website, do not respond to the message, or click any links. Instead, contact the company directly to confirm that the communication is legitimate. Never share personal or financial information in response to unsolicited communication, even if it appears legitimate.
DOs of Safe Online Behavior
1: Ensure you have a secure Internet connection
You must ensure that you have a secure Internet connection to boost your safety on the Internet. Securing the Internet connection protects your network from unauthorized users and hackers. Follow these steps to improve the safety of your Internet connection:
Activate Your Firewall
A firewall is a network security system that defends your connection by controlling incoming traffic. You can turn on your operating system’s firewall and your router’s firewall too.
Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
You’ll need a VPN to shield your activity from your ISP, eavesdroppers, and hackers. Steer clear of free VPNs and free proxy servers, though. More on this later.
Activate Internet security tool
A good Internet security tool will help secure your browsing. We suggest you tryMalwarebytes Browser Guard. This browser extension for Chrome, Safari and other browsers secures your Internet by blocking unsafe content like scams and malware.
Rename your router
Every router has a default name. Hackers can use this information to identify your device and manipulate its settings to breach your network. Identifying your router also makes it easier for anyone with malicious intentions to take advantage of its vulnerabilities.
Changing the default router name and password is one of the most important Internet safety tips we can share. You can easily change your router’s name from its settings.
Rename your WiFi network
People with malicious intent can use the default SSID (service set identifier) of your WiFi connection to learn more about your router and your network. After changing the SSID, you’ll face the minor inconvenience of reconnecting your devices to your WiFi.
Encrypt your WiFi network
In your router settings, you’ll notice many encryption options, including WEP, VPA, and WPA2. More modern routers will also offer WPA3. Please select the highest security protocol for your WiFi network. The best option should be WPA2 or WPA3.
Patch your router
You may have read about howhome routers are being hijacked by hackers through exploits. In addition to exploits, an unpatched router is susceptible to attacks such as remote control, path traversal, and the Mirai malware botnet.
Download the latest firmware for your router and update it to plug security holes. If your router is no longer supported, consider asking your ISP for a new one. Alternatively, you can purchase your own router.
Change the passwords
Change the default passwords of your router and WiFi connection to unique, sophisticated passwords. Hackers can easily look up default passwords to wreak havoc on your network and Internet connection. Check the next Internet safety tips section to learn how to set a strong and unique password.
2: Choose strong, unique passwords and regularly update them
Choose strong and unique passwords for all accounts related to your Internet connection, including router, WiFi, email, social media, etc.
So, why create a strong password anyway? Hackers have different types of technologies that can swiftly crack a weak password in seconds. As obvious as it may sound, a stronger password takes longer to crack.
In fact, experts say that a long password that’s around 12 characters long and features at least one uppercase letter, one symbol, and one number will take current technology thousands of years to crack.
When setting a password, please avoid using recognizable alpha or numerical patterns. Passwords carrying patterns such as “ABC,” “12345,” or known numbers and dates are particularly vulnerable to hackers.
Updating your passwords periodically may seem like one of the more tedious Internet safety tips, but it’s useful to your Internet safety. The advantages of updating weak passwords to complex ones are pretty clear. But updating your passwords is also helpful if you’ve changed your computer or devices or if your password was stolen without your knowledge.
A stolen password can result in grave consequences. It can also happen to anyone. Cybersecurity experts believe that the devastating Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack was possible due to a compromised password.
3: Have antivirus in place, update operating systems and software
Utilize your antivirus solution to protect your system from malicious software that can target your network or web browser. We recommend that you go beyond your operating system’s baked-in antivirus software because it may not protect popular third-party browsers like Google Chrome by default. Moreover, legacy antivirus tools may not be as effective against unknown threats. Download anti-malware software that shields your browser and stops new and emerging threats.
Updating your essential pieces of software yields multiple advantages. You’ll notice better performance, improved compatibility, and, occasionally, some new features. Updating software with security updates enhances security too. For example, the latest security updates can mitigate the risk of hackers using exploits against your hardware and software.
Make it a habit to regularly update your operating system, web browser, router, and other essential software. Activate automatic updates for more convenience.
4: Use multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Even the most sophisticated password can be utilized to breach your cybersecurity if it’s stolen. That’s why we recommend activating multi-factor authentication.
With MFA, a hacker may be forced to satisfy two or more authentication protocols. In other words, even if they have your username and password, they may have to prove their identity in another way to enter your account, such as a code sent directly to your device.
5: Check website security (i.e. HTTPS)
Whenever you access a website, look for the website security padlock sign. For example, while reading this article, you’ll notice a little padlock sign next to the URL on your browser’s address bar. Click the padlock sign, and your browser will tell you that the connection between your system and the website is secure. Another way to check this is look at the URL of the website – such as this page.
A secure URL begins with HTTPS – not HTTP. The “S” in HTTPS stands for secure – which shows you that the website has a secure sockets layer (SSL) in place.
Of course the paddock symbol and the https – doesn’t always mean that this is not a scam website. Before engaging in commerce with a new website, look it up on the Internet to ensure it’s not a scam website.
6: Backup your data
Even with the best cybersecurity tools and Internet safety tips in mind, you may suffer from a cybersecurity breach that disrupts your workflow. For example, if you download a common computer virus, you may lose your important files and folders.
We recommend that in addition to storing your original data on your computer, you periodically back it up to an external hard drive. In addition, sign up for a cloud backup service from a reputable company that automatically saves your data offsite.
7: Monitor your privacy settings in social media and Internet browsers
Many of us have private information on our devices and social media platforms. Our privacy settings impact who can access this data. For example, the privacy settings on your browser affect the information websites see, like your browsing history or your payment information.
Likewise, your privacy settings on social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok impact the personal information, posts, and media that strangers can access.
Use these links to modify your privacy settings:
8: Protect your identity
Protecting your identity on the Internet allows you to speak your mind online without attracting the negative attention of cyberbullies or cyber criminals. You are also less likely to be targeted by hackers or suffer from identity theft.
Use anonymous handles when posting online, and try a combination of the many Internet safety tips listed here to protect your identity.
Please also keep an eye on your credit reports, bank statements, and credit card charges to safeguard your identity. In addition, regularly search your name on search engines to see what images and information come up for public consumption.
Immediately adjust your privacy settings, change your passwords, and get in touch with the right platform if you notice your sensitive information published online.
9: Use a VPN
Securing your connection with a private VPN is one of the most essential Internet safety tips. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and masks your location, preventing hackers from intercepting your data and your ISP from tracking your online activity. In certain countries, a good VPN can improve the privacy and security of citizens, activists, and journalists from governments.
When selecting a VPN provider, please pick one that offers a large server network, top security features, the latest technology, and carries a no-logs policy.
Using a free VPN may negatively impact your safety on the Internet, though. Some free VPNs are known to spy on users or sell their browsing activity to third parties like marketers. Users of free VPNs with poor security protocols may also be vulnerable to malware attacks.
10: Be mindful of the cryptocurrency scams
Cryptocurrency scams are on the rise. Many investors have lost their entire life savings within seconds to hackers. Worryingly, victims have few recourse options after an attack.
Check these cryptocurrency safety tips to protect your assets:
● Use a credible cryptocurrency exchange.
● Consider taking your digital assets offline in a cold wallet.
● Protect your accounts with multiple layers of authentication.
● Be wary of phishing expeditions that target your crypto assets.
● Work with your cellular provider to protect your phone number from a SIMjacking attack. SIMjacking, also known as a SIM-swap scam, is a common attack vector in cryptocurrency theft.
What is Internet safety?
Internet safety is the process of protecting yourself, your family, and your data on the web. It includes the safety of your confidential information, as well as your online interactions and activities. Following the best Internet safety tips can enhance your privacy and security online.
What are Internet safety main risks?
Irresponsible online behavior such as being careless about personal information can have pretty devastating results. From cyberbullying to identity theft and financial losses to even a physical threat to life. Be careful about what to share and not to share online.
What is good Internet safety?
Always be careful about what you post online, never click on suspicious links or download attachments, backup your data, use a VPN and have a reputable cyber security software in place.