The Internet has become one of those phenomena we can’t imagine our life without. We use it for almost everything: information research, communication, shopping, payments, playing games or working online. Even though it is a very convenient tool for all of the above, there are lots of possible points of hidden danger. Consequently, it is important for Internet users to follow some basic recommendations to stay safe online, especially if you allow kids to surf online.
Here are some safety tips to help you use the Web safely and protect your privacy.
1) Security and passwords. This is the number one thing to draw your attention to since weak passwords are among the fastest ways to hack your account or device. Modern parents tend to leave the kids alone playing video games from a personal smartphone, connected to Apple or Google Pay:
- It is important to choose strong and unique passwords including both characters and numbers;
- Make sure to lock your phone: secure it with a PIN (minimum 4 digit number), a password, if possible – with a fingerprint or other method;
- It is much more secure not to use the same password for multiple accounts;
- It is recommended to use two-factor authentication for the stronger security of your online accounts. This will help you avoid dealing with chargebacks because of your carelessness.
2) Applications and unknown websites can be harmful in different ways, the below tips may help you avoid potential threats:
- Please take your time to look through reviews before you download a smartphone app;
- Pay attention to the permission settings the apps ask for before you use them;
- Don’t submit any personal details on a website unless you are convinced it is legitimate;
- Don’t click on links in suspicious emails: they are most likely fake and will lead you to malicious pages. If you are not certain, better to call the sender to make sure the link is safe. Use one of the many data brokers that will allow you to do that in minutes.
3) Social media has penetrated into our lives that most of people use it on a daily basis and even several hours per day. However, it can influence your life not only in a good way.
- Always draw your attention to the privacy settings of each social media you use;
- It is normal to be nice to people when you meet them in person, the same is with online etiquette: better to treat people the way you would like to be treated;
- Think about what you share with other people online: provocative or intimate photos can be used against you later on;
- Some people can be nice only because their goal is to get something from you, so please be careful when you meet a new person online;
- It is recommended to avoid in-person meetings. If you are eager to meet the person anyway, please make sure to inform your friends and relatives about where you go and with whom or even take your friend with you. Scheduling the meeting in a public place will make it safer too;
- It is ok to report abuse or even block anyone who makes you uncomfortable;
- Be careful of anyone who claims that you or someone from your family or friends owes them money. Even if they sound very convincing. Before any action, better to contact that friend or relative just to double-check.
4) Shops, banks, donations and other ways to give your money online require extra attention.
- Do not send cash or wire money: credit cards, debit cards or payment services (for instance, Paypal) are much safer to use;
- For shopping or banking please stick with the web sites starting with HTTPS – the “s” stands for “secure” here;
- Take some time for doing the research before making any donations online: sometimes the charity is not legitimate.
- Your social security number, Medicare number, and any other identification numbers are strictly confidential unless you are convinced it is necessary;
- Choose online shops carefully and better to use online merchants with a good reputation and reviews. When you are not sure, better ask someone to keep your money safe.
5) There are online bullies too: don’t let anyone insult you. Here are some specific tips for children and teenagers:
- It is better not to respond or to retaliate. They wait for a reaction and giving them one means that they get what they were looking for. If your reaction is retaliating, you can turn one villainous act into a chain of them;
- Don’t be afraid to invoke the person to stop. To make it work, you need to make your demand completely clear – you are not going to bear such treatment anymore;
- It is ok to ask for help – especially if someone’s behavior really bothers you;
- Feel free to use available tech tools: social media apps allow you to block someone. If you receive messages with threats of physical harm, we highly recommend you to contact the local police department;
- Don’t hesitate to take action if you see someone you know being bullied. If you stand by, you can even empower the aggressor. At the very least, you can help just by not passing by and not giving a positive reaction to the bully-person.
Last but not least, be careful with unencrypted Wi-Fi at airports, cafés or hotels. In order to prevent your data from stealing, we recommend using a VPN app. Additionally, install updates for your operating system regularly.
All in all, always think twice about what you share online and with whom.