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  • Alex VonHalle

Rules for being Safe Online

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

We have discussed the rules for safely interacting with other people online, as well as minor rules for taking care of yourself, but now we talk about rules for intentionally having barriers up. These rules are dedicated to making sure that you, as a user of a computer and the internet, are taking the proper steps to protect yourself from outside influences that intentionally mean you harm.

1. Keep Privacy Settings On

Hunting through your various internet histories and collecting your data is a tactic used by hackers. Fortunately, your devices have their own privacy settings that make it harder for outsiders to find your information. On top of that, many websites also have their own selection of privacy settings. Look through those if a website has them and make sure they are configured to your liking.

2. Practice Safe Browsing

In real life, you would not willing walk around a place that has a dangerous reputation, and it should be the same on the internet. There are websites of dubious content on the internet, and many of them have virtual pitfalls that let those sites and the people behind them steal your personal data or let malware into your systems. The best way to prevent such things from happening at all is to avoid such websites completely.

3. Keep Personal Information Professional and Limited

Potential employers or customers don't need to know your personal relationship status or your home address. They do need to know about your expertise and professional background, and how to get in touch with you. You wouldn't hand purely personal information out to strangers individually—don't hand it out to millions of people online.

4. Choose Strong Passwords

Passwords are one of the biggest weak spots in the whole Internet security structure, but there's currently no way around them. And the problem with passwords is that people tend to choose easy ones to remember (such as "password" and "123456"), which are also easy for cyber thieves to guess. Select strong passwords that are harder for cybercriminals to demystify. Password manager software can help you to manage multiple passwords so that you don't forget them. A strong password is one that is unique and complex—at least 15 characters long, mixing letters, numbers and special characters.

5. Make Online Purchases From Secure Sites

Any time you make a purchase online, you need to provide credit card or bank account information—just what cybercriminals are most eager to get their hands on. Only supply this information to sites that provide secure, encrypted connections. As Boston University notes, you can identify secure sites by looking for an address that starts with https: (the S stands for secure) rather than simply http: They may also be marked by a padlock icon next to the address bar.

6. Be Careful What You Download

A top goal of cybercriminals is to trick you into downloading malware—programs or apps that carry malware or try to steal information. This malware can be disguised as an app: anything from a popular game to something that checks traffic or the weather. As PCWorld advises, don't download apps that look suspicious or come from a site you don't trust.

7. Make Sure Your Internet Connection is Secure. Use a Secure VPN Connection

When you go online in a public place, for example by using a public Wi-Fi connection, PCMag notes you have no direct control over its security. Corporate cybersecurity experts worry about "endpoints"—the places where a private network connects to the outside world. Your vulnerable endpoint is your local Internet connection. Make sure your device is secure, and when in doubt, wait for a better time (i.e., until you're able to connect to a secure Wi-Fi network) before providing information such as your bank account number.

To further improve your Internet browsing safety, use secure VPN connection (virtual private network). VPN enables you to have a secure connection between your device and an Internet server that no one can monitor or access the data that you’re exchanging.

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