The Internet is a valuable tool that allows you to shop for goods, connect with friends and family, learn, and much more. The amount of time spent online has increased significantly with the proliferation of technology. The average user can easily connect through their smartphone, tablet, or computer; accordingly, it is important to know some general cyber security tips to protect yourself. Here are four tips that will help protect you when online.
Shopping. Shopping online allows consumers to purchase items from the comfort of their homes. However, not every website on the Internet is safe to shop on. Before and after you purchase your item, check the following:
Confirm website address begins with HTTPS and/or has a lock icon. This ensures the website you are browsing is secure.
Shop at websites you know are reliable.
Check your banking statements often. Look for charges you didn’t authorize.
Use credit instead of debit when purchasing online. Debit takes money directly from your account while credit allows you to pay for the item at a later time.
Pop-ups. There will be times when you are on a website and another browser “pops up” on your screen saying, “Congratulations, you won a $1000” or “Warning, your computer may be at risk, click here to find out what’s wrong.” DO NOT CLICK. There is no prize, and there is no problem; just exit out of the page by clicking on the X in the upper left-hand corner.
Email. Email is a tried-and-true form of online communication that allows you to send messages, files, photos and much more, but when using email, you must be wary of certain things.
Don’t open emails from organizations or people you don’t know.
Don’t open attachments or click on the links of those suspicious emails. These attachments may contain virus that can harm your computer and/or give hackers access to your email account.
Don’t send overly sensitive information over email. Never send your social security, banking account information and passwords through email. You never know who is on the other end receiving the email.
Social Networking. Social media is wonderful tool that allows you to connect with your friends and family. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that social media is a public profile of who you are. Your friends and family, your likes and dislikes can all be seen with a simple search. So it is important you practice certain safety rules when using social media.
Post with caution. Don’t share personal or private information over the internet. You don’t know who is reading.
Don’t accept friend request from people you don’t know.
Be familiar with privacy settings. The privacy setting allows you to control who sees your post and activity.
General Rules of the Web. When you are using the Internet and are not too sure about something, call your family and friends and ask for help. There is no shame in not understanding something; what is most important is that you take good measures to protect yourself.
Vincent Tran served as the Marketing and Social Media intern at Seabury Resources for Aging during 2016.