There are a lot of dangers lurking on the web that aren’t always apparent. Fake webpages designed to steal your account info, bogus emergency emails from your aunt asking you to wire her money because she’s stuck somewhere with no access to cash. Which is why it’s important for us to stay vigilant when we are doing things online.
Never leave your devices unattended. This is one of the easiest ways for someone to get access to your accounts and start causing damage. If you work at an office where you get up from your computer often you should enable the lock after x minutes away setting. This will ensure that your computer will see that you’ve been idle for a little while then set itself to the log on screen where you will have to put in your password to get back into it. It won’t get rid of anything you’re working on, but it will prevent anyone from having free access to your device while you’ve stepped away.
This also applies to mobile devices and tablets. You should have a passcode set for all your devices and have them set to ask for the passcode if they’ve gone idle. While this might seem tedious it’s a lot easier to punch in your passwords a few times than it is trying to get back all your accounts after they’ve been compromised. Even if you don’t want to constantly punch in your passwords a lot of newer devices allow you to use biometrics like face ID or fingerprints to unlock your phone. Paired with a strong passcode this makes your devices secure but also gives you ease of access.
Being safe on the web comes down to being careful what you click. You should stick to websites with the little lock in the address bar which indicates they have an SSL certificate, which means your data will be safe. SSL certificates encrypt data on the webpage so that your data transfers are secure and unreadable by parties trying to get ahold of it. When you log in or make a purchase on a website that doesn’t' have this little padlock you can’t be sure that it is a secure connection or that your information won't be stolen. Which is why you should only do transactions or log in to websites with an SSL certificate.
Likewise, when you get sent a link you should always be cautious. Hovering over the link is one way to check if a link is really going where it is supposed to. Phishing scams thrive on the fact that some people won’t think twice about clicking a link they get in an email. But lately with all the cyber-attacks happening people have begun getting a lot smarter about where they are clicking. This just means that cyber criminals need to be more convincing in getting you to click on their links. Practice a healthy amount of caution when you receive suspicious emails, if you get an unusual email from your bank or a vendor telling you your account has been compromised. Google their official office number and ask them directly, don’t trust phone numbers or emails that are in the possible scam message.
With almost every store and business offering free Wi-Fi it’s easy to just connect and forget about it. But these connections are often unsecured and easy to compromise. Having a VPN can alleviate a lot of the security risk of connection to these unsecure networks. Especially if you are constantly traveling or work at a coffeeshop for the free Wi-Fi. VPN’s or virtual private networks connects you to a private network so that any information you access while on public Wi-Fi stays secure. It also means that if you are in a country with restrictions to what you can access on the internet you can bypass it by connecting to a VPN. For example, recently I was in Costa Rica and we were trying to watch Netflix while in the hotel. A lot of the shows we wanted to watch were not available in the region so by connecting to our VPN we could select the North America server and access the shows available there.
There’s a lot to keep in mind in order to be safe while on the internet. But luckily a lot of it is just having the common sense not to click everything and make sure that you have good passwords for your accounts. If you want more information on how to stay safe speak to your IT specialist for information on enabling firewalls and what antivirus can benefit you.