The internet is a wonderful invention that allows us to have a worldwide exchange of ideas, information, and products. It is also a very dangerous place for the unprepared, as the tools of the internet and technology have allowed criminals to roam relatively unopposed on the internet, except perhaps for other cybercriminals who are competing for the same marks. Identity theft is perhaps the most profitable crime out there with a significant lack of risk considering international boundaries and the anonymity the internet often allows, and the defenses of some large organizations leave a lot to be desired.
All of this means that it is essential for you to know basic internet security so you have a framework and mindset that you can use to defend yourself from threats while you use the network that has become such an integral part of everyone’s life. There are many tools and habits that can help you, but they are only good if you are using them.
Here are things you absolutely need to know in order to stay safe online:
What You Constantly Hear
If you’ve read anything about internet security before this, then you’ve heard advice like having an excellent password and having a top-tier internet security program before. The reason you keep hearing this is because it is the right advice, and any good online security plan has these basic guidelines as its foundation. If you aren’t doing this, then all of the following advice will be for nothing.
There are other things that you hear often that you should be doing. The most prominent one of these is to perform a backup often so that you can restore your computer without a heavy heart should you have any problems with malware or viruses. Another thing you should be doing is a manual check of all of your important files so you know where they are and can keep easier tabs on them. The last commonplace thing you should be doing is keeping your email protection at the highest priority because your email can be considered the nexus for all of your other accounts, if your email isn’t directly part of a more sensitive service in the first place.
Privacy is Your Friend
Not everyone online needs to know everything about you. It is often best to leave many optional fields blank when you create online profiles, or avoid making online profiles at all if they ask too much, especially if the website is not a trusted brand. If someone in your life asks you for information regarding your passwords or other account information, make sure to tell them nothing or uselessly vague information. No one except you and maybe your spouse needs to know every detail of your online life. Anyone else might use that data against you or try to sell you that data someday, so your privacy is vital.
You may also want to consider using a tool to obscure your IP address such as a proxy or a VPN, which will be explained shortly. This way people and organizations won’t be able to track you so easily and know who you are, allowing you a greater amount of freedom and security online. Whatever you use, having your IP address hidden is a good thing for you.
Public Networks and VPNs
A lot of your internet security has to do with not what you do on the internet but how you access the internet. You have probably seen “Free Wi-Fi” signs posted everywhere in restaurants, large stores, and public buildings, but they are often extremely dangerous due to the lack of encryption or any other protection they have.This means that hackers can easily take a look at and steal any data that travels over the network with a simple and inexpensive setup that you won’t likely notice. This will lead to identity theft, or at least a few compromised accounts.
Your best defense against this particular type of attack is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is a service that allows your computer or smartphone to connect to an offsite secure server using an encrypted connection. The encrypted connection will act as a sort of protected road or tunnel for your data, allowing to travel unnoticed by hackers or anyone else. All they will know is that you are using a VPN. The fact that you are connecting to an offsite server which masks your IP address means you will get that all important privacy and will be able to bypass problematic government restrictions.
While a VPN is an essential tool to have, it is also important to pick out the right one. There are quite a few out there all competing for your attention, and that is why it is important that you check out reviews from websites such as Secure Thoughts and VPNSP. No matter what you choose, you will be better off for it.
Scams and Malware
The internet is full of people who want to take a bite out of you. Criminal activity is rampant on many parts of the internet, and you need to know what to watch out for when it comes to this sort of individual or website.
As for scams, there are too many to mention in this article, but many of them are variations on the theme of an offer that is unbeatable anywhere else and all they need is your information to send you something. In almost every circumstance, it is a trap, and if something sounds too good to be true, then it positively is. Try reading a list of common scams, using only websites that you trust, and not clicking ad links on the pages that you do visit.
Malware can be tricky, and the best way to fight it is to avoid it. Luckily a good security program can block out most of it, but it is still possible to download it directly onto your computer and give it permissions, thinking that it is another program. You also have to worry about ransomware, which will try to block you from exiting a tab on your browser until you download something that will “secure” your computer, which will then lock up your computer until you pay the ransomware creator a large sum of money. With this you just need to exit the browser tab by any means necessary, including ending the process or even resetting the computer.
When it comes to anything like this, it all comes down to using the right websites and going with your instinct. Try not to find too good a deal; otherwise, you’ll find yourself severely disappointed.
Thank you for reading, and I hope that you now know enough to defend yourself from any threat out there.
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