The world wide web (or internet) is an incredible resource. It delivers news, sports, entertainment, online shopping plus a host of other services right from the comfort of your living room with the click of a button. Come to think of it, the internet allows you to play virtual chess with an opponent from thousands of miles away, view, review and rate movies, work at home and so forth.
However, as much as you may enjoy the convenience and anonymity of the internet, it comes with lurking dangers. Hackers, online scammers, and identity thieves may gain access to your private data. As such, you should safeguard your PC, confidential data and finances from cyber criminals.
These 7 tips, specified by the leading expert of Semalt Digital Services, Ryan Johnson, should get you started.
1. Protect your identity
Did you know that millions of people become victims of identity theft every year? This is according to statistics provided by the Federal Trade Commission. Don’t be a victim. Your personal information if fallen into the wrong hands can be used to fleece you of your hard earned cash. How do they get this info? Well, they apply a phishing scam – here they’ll send you an email, pop-up or text claiming it’s a trusted institution (the one you normally do business with) looking to update your profile.
2. Avoid phishing scams by:
- Not replying to emails, pop-ups or text messages asking for your personal information.
- Not following any prompts like calling a number or being redirected to a website as instructed by the pop-up, text or email message.
3. Get to know whom you are dealing with
In the virtual world, there are fraudsters, just as they exist in the real world. Unfortunately, you cannot ascertain this by just looking at their websites. Cyber criminals are a smart folk. They’ll pass as a legitimate business. If you wish to buy something online, observe the following:
- Call them. If they cannot be reached by the phone, then shop elsewhere.
- Find reviews about the business.
- Avoid sharing a file over peer-to-peer (p2p) networks. Doing so can allow malware and ransomware to infiltrate your system thus creating a loop through which private data is stolen.
4. Update your antivirus and firewall
If you spend most of the time online, then your computer’s firewall and antivirus should always be running and updated. By default, new antivirus programs have a free trial. Pay the subscription fee to enjoy the benefits in full. In short, set up a firewall, install an antivirus program (updated version) and an anti spyware software.
5. Update your web browser and operating system
Use the latest version of your web browser while running on a legit operating system. Avoid pirated operating systems.
6. Guard your passwords
Use a password management system to protect your passwords. Do not share your passwords in text files whatsoever. If need, apply these techniques:
- Avoid personal names as these can be guessed.
- Use at least seven characters preferably mixing the alphabet with numericals and other special characters.
- Use different passwords for different profiles.
- Change the password regularly.
- Use two-tier identification for key accounts.
7. Set up a plan B
It may be a smart idea always to have a backup plan. For instance, rather than have all your important files stored in your PC, upload the files up into the clouds or burn them to a DVD.
If you suspect malware of lurking around check and confirm that your antivirus software, firewall and anti spyware are up and running.