[Guide] to Safe Internet browsing
The internet is a wild and dark place. Internet newbies can incur irreparable damage to their data if they indulge all willy nilly. Careers have ended abruptly over something posted on the internet. Identity thieves have a field day with unmanned data and hackers can hack into even the most robust firewalls in the world.
When they say, “the internet never forgets”. This adage is literal every time you are working on the internet or posting anything personal on social media. Internet goons have made it a career to steal and misuse other people’s details.
Wherefore, every time you log on to the internet, the safety of your facts and data should be your number one priority.
The first and foremost thing to learn in the fight against internet predators is the peril. Once you know what is out there, you can take deliberate measures to ensure you stay clear of the prospect. Let us discuss the different types of risks you are exposed to when browsing the internet.
Also Check :- Guide to Online Privacy
Risks Involved When Browsing
Viruses and spyware software engineered to attack your internet device is also called malware.
Most of the internet users have fallen prey to socially engineered malware. The most popular way is by deception. Hackers create enticing documents that are too good to pass up.
The minute you try to open it a virus downloads into your system. These viruses or malicious software can wreak havoc on your system by compromising or damaging your hardware or exposing sensitive information.
As technology advances, so do these malware experts. Being informed and vigilant is the only way to stay ahead of the malware curve.
Phishing is a socially engineered malware that is created to steal sensitive data, personal and financial information, and possibly identities. A good example is an email from your supposed banker requesting for your username and password.
If you are not observant, you may end up sending such sensitive information to an unverifiable source or a phisher masquerading as your banker.
There are several gateways to phishing. If you can identify them early in advance, you can avoid the risk altogether. Here are the most common phishing gateways.
These present as sales promotions from fake shopping sites, banking institutions, dating, social networks, gaming, and gambling site among others.
Most phishing cases start this way. Avoid sharing your personal information with sites that pop out of nowhere. Learn to stick to the purpose you are browsing and ignore pop-ups more so those that are slinging “too-good-to-be-true” information.
It is a widely assumed fact that downloading copyrighted material has no consequences.
This is not the case. Downloading or copying copyrighted materials will land you before cybercrime investigators.
Respect other people’s property and if you need anything that is copyrighted, purchase it through the proper channels.
Indecent exposure influences adolescents most. As a parent or guardian, you are expected to keep a close eye on what they are browsing.
Other than phishing, there are far worse consequences for unsupervised minors. There are numerous internet predators and cyber bullies who can completely derail your teenagers’ lives.
Steps to Ensure Safe Internet Browsing
#1 Install secure internet browsers
As far as the internet is concerned, there are various safe browsers that you can download and install without the risk of malware.
Browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge are among the top ranking and most popular browsers.
These browsers offer protection against most of malware and phishing software by imposing filters and verifying the legitimacy of any given URL (Uniform Resource Locator) before allowing you to download.
They also block pop-ups, fraudulent websites, and phishing emails allowing you to browse privately and safely.
When browsing, you will often see a pop-up alert on your screen warning you about one website or the other.
Pop-ups forewarn you about venturing into unchartered waters. You can choose to heed the signal or ignore the message or go ahead to the site.
A reliable browser is supposed to block downloads from questionable websites. It doesn’t take a professional to clone a malicious site.
In the modern world of smart gadgets, passwords are used almost in everything.
As hacking increases and gets more aggressive, we need stronger passwords for our accounts. So, how can you create strong-enough passwords and remember them all?
Consider employing the services of passwords managers. Password managers offer various services geared towards password protection including creating new, safe, and secure passwords for you.
Of utmost importance is that password managers work across different platforms and some will even customize your passwords no matter the type or number of devices you’re using. Once you update your password or change it, the password manager will update it across all your devices.
Ensure you secure your laptops, smartphone, or tablet such that if it’s stolen, your pin, confidential information, financial sites, email, or social media accounts will require the user to login. This way, the thief will not have it easy accessing your personal, credit or social details.
Confirming secure websites
Before divulging your personal or credit information on any website do your recon. Online shopping requires that you supply your credit information onto the site. Ensure you confirm the validity of the website before proceeding with the transaction. There are lots of scam websites posing as online stores.
Look out for a green padlock on the browser address bar as confirmation of the validity of the site. The lock also means that the traffic between you and the site is encrypted and it only speaks to the validity of the site and not the owner of the site.
Extended validation is another way for websites to prove their security and validity. It appears as a green address bar and padlocks on your browser.
Understand phishing emails
Phishing emails get an average of 10% clicks rates. There are a lot of them on the internet so chances are you may eventually end up clicking on one unknowingly. Once you have clicked on a phishing email, malware downloads into your device.
It spies on everything you do, websites you venture, your passwords, and can even use your computer to send more spam.
Characteristics of a phishing email:
Customized security setting
Turning off some features on your computer during browsing can increase your safety although, in some cases, it may increase the burden on your browsing flow.
Having to type passwords over and over, for example, can prove to be monotonous than saving them on the system.
Cookies, on the other hand, are files stored on the website about your browsing history. While some of them are harmless; these cookies can be used to track your online visits and can target you using a phishing email. Consider turning off cookies and browsing history. It will save you a ton of spam email and pop-up sites.
Updating operating systems and software
Most of the operating systems and software do automatic updates. Others require the approval of the admin which is something most of us don’t bother to do. The security vulnerability is a soft spot for hackers.
Thus they use that opportune time to hack. Update your operating systems and software as often as possible. Waiting until it’s convenient for you to update your systems is a risk you don’t want to take.
The internet is full of licenses and software that are downloaded and installed in the operating systems of our computers. The approved software is safer to download and install while software from cheaper websites, especially clean-up software, is one you should keep off.
Only download software and applications from secure and trusted sites with good reputations. Also, make sure that any software you download is authentic.
Secure your IP with a VPN
To kick your safety measures up a notch, consider acquiring the services of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service provider. VPN protects your connection, encrypts your data connection and location, and hides your IP address by bouncing it all around the world.
Virtual Private Networks are mostly required if you are accessing unsecured networks especially those found in public places. Every day hackers snoop in these networks to intercept your online activity most likely using a software tool known as the sniffer.
A good VPN subscription masks your identity. This way, nobody can follow your online activity. However, streaming services with regional restrictions can be a challenge when using VPN mainly because your IP address keeps changing.
There are free VPN service providers and subscription-based VPN service providers. If you can, avoid free VPN services because while they will render a free service, they will also sell the information they gather from your browsing habits to data markets.
All in all, it is better to stay away from unsecured Wi-Fi. Connecting to open Wi-Fi without a VPN is opening yourself up to all sorts of risks.
Also Check :- VPN vs Proxy
File sharing and Torrenting
File and content sharing sites are prone to attacks. There can be any number of malware encrypted in content or a file. Additionally, these sites often avail copyrighted material for free downloads. You are advised to steer clear of these sites. If the malware doesn’t steal your information, then wait for copyright investigators.
Having a good, effective antivirus in your device goes without saying.
So far, we have discussed phishing emails and pop-up alerts and how not to click them.
In the event you end up opening one, a powerful antivirus will catch the malware before it infects or invades your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Downloading an antivirus from a reputable company the likes of; Avast, BitDefender, Kaspersky, and Avira among others is an ideal way to start safe browsing.
Obtain credit monitors
Identity thieves steal your personal information so they can set up bank accounts and credit lines in your name.
Since you don’t know if they exist, you will never get to see the statements up until you start getting hounded by collection agencies.
A credit monitor will alert you to the problem early in advance so you can take measures to seal the leak before you unwittingly plunge into an ocean of debt.
Use reputable shopping sites
Shopping sites are prone to attacks especially those without modern, updated firewalls to protect their website. Confirm the validity of shopping sites and read their customer reviews before indulging in any business with them.
Whether you are doing online business, online investments, online surfing or any other activities that take place over the internet, there are some basic rules to safer browsing.
- Follow your instincts and your common sense. If the deal is too good to be true, it most likely is.
- All websites have contact information, email addresses, and information about their physical address. Get to know who you’re dealing with before sharing your personal information.
- Reputable sites will hire expert web designers and domain creators leaving no room for grammatical errors. If a website seems shady with poorly done graphics and terrible grammar, steer clear.
- Websites requiring more information from you than is necessary, such as usernames, passwords are perilous.
- Get professional opinions before investing in internet endeavors. Professional investors will save you from internet fraudsters.
- Do your due diligence and research on any website with which you intend to do business. Follow your instincts, if something is fishy abandon the site altogether.
- Check the address in your browsers address bar to see if it matches the address you entered in your search history. It will help you avoid landing in a fake site despite typing the correct information.
- Always practice safe browsing. Avoid the dark web and don’t go looking for or get tempted by dubious contents. Internet criminals use enticing content as bait.
- Choose strong passwords for your logins. Passwords are the weakest spot in the internet security structure. Choose a password that’s hard for cyber hackers to crack.
- Understand and evaluate what you post. Some posts may expose you to internet trolling, defamation charges, or even IRS investigations. There’s no way to take back what you post online.
- Be careful about whoever you meet over the internet, dating sites, and social networks. These people might not be who they seem to be.
Once you understand the dynamics of the internet and browsing safety tips, everything else becomes easy. Take the internet seriously and do not underestimate the damage trolls, hackers, or phishers can have on your life. If you stay vigilant and take precaution, surfing will be a walk in the park.