Over 1 billion websites are registered on the internet today, and each day that number grows by approximately 140,000. Since the internet first became available to the public in the early 1990s, the way we transmit information—and the kind of information we search for—has changed dramatically. In seconds, we send travel advice, scientific articles, cooking recipes, and GPS mapping details around the world, for billions of people to access. The world is at our fingertips it seems and fresh data is endless.
In more recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of social media websites and apps that make it easy to connect with family and friends around the world. We have the chance to connect with people we haven’t talked to or seen in years.
Meanwhile, we also share photos, send messages, and update statuses about some of the most personal aspects of our lives: wedding photos, baby announcements, graduations and favorite vacations. It’s a great way to keep up with loved ones who can witness these major milestones thousands of miles away.
But we also must be aware that the information we share on the internet, especially on social media sites, is never as private as we might imagine, even with such misleading menu headings as “privacy settings.” Such privacy settings come with fine print that may leave you a bit wary.
You should never assume that anything you put online will be fully hidden or protected.
The most common forms of internet privacy risks include phishing, pharming, spyware, and malware. Any one, or combination of these viruses, puts your computer at risk as well as the majority of your private information, like banking information, sensitive emails, and social media.
It’s important to consider the personal information you’re sending out into the world of the internet, and the consequences that might follow. Who exactly is laying eyes on your content? And are you ready to protect yourself?
When it comes to internet safety, you’re more in control than you may think. The easiest way to begin is by ensuring that all of your accounts use secure passwords.
Many of us get lazy, using the same password for multiple accounts or using common words or phrases in our passwords. However, when we do this, our risk for getting hacked increases. Especially when it comes to email and banking accounts, it’s vital that we construct impenetrable passwords.
There are some simple protocols we can follow to ensure our passwords are air tight.
Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and a combination of upper and lowercase letters, or as specified by the website registration guidelines. It’s best to come up with passwords that do not include full words.
As an added security measure, many websites may call on two-form authentication. That is to say, in addition to providing a password, you must also validate your account through a code sent via email or phone.
Straying from Harmful Spyware
Watching out for spyware is crucial for the security of your personal information and for your computer.
Common signs of spyware include frequent pop-up windows, unfamiliar toolbars, a change in search engine browser, strange error messages, or overall, the functions of your computer functioning slower than usual.
All are reasons for concern.
Therefore, it’s important to invest in reputable anti-spyware. Common examples include Malwarebytes, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware.
Keep free of spyware by deleting spam emails, avoiding suspicious pop-up windows, and limiting free downloads as soon as they appear.
Using a Secure Browser
Simply browsing with an insecure browser can put your computer at risk. This is one of the major methods hackers use to access your data and steal sensitive information.
You can take some simple steps to make sure you don’t fall victim to this type of cyber attack.
First, pay close attention to the website’s address.Those that begin in https:// (the “s” which means “secure sockets layer”) are considered safe websites. For banking matters or other personal business conducting on the internet, this is an important step to take.
Second, set all browsing sessions to private. Although many of us get in the habit of saving our browsing history, it’s best not to, in order to keep our browsing history discrete.
Third, utilizing a search engine recommended by antivirus companies, and keeping up to date with the latest version is the surest way to prevent hacking.
Not Sharing Personal Information over Free Wi-Fi
It’s easy to get distracted when working at a cafe, quickly checking your email or bank account. However, when you do so, you inadvertently put your personal information at risk.
While VPN (virtual private networks) are an option, it’s always best to steer clear altogether of conducting financial inquiries or other sensitive business while on free public wi-fi networks.
Being Smart with Social Media
The best way to keep yourself protected online is to think carefully about the personal information you put out onto the internet. Each day, we’re bombarded with photos and life updates of family and friends, of the most personal details.
While we can set our account settings to private, social media platforms can never truly ensure that the personal data you put out into the world will not get picked up by an unwanted source.
Simply refrain from putting such personal information out into the world. Keeping a boundary between your real life and your online life will prevent such harmful hacking.
We turn to the internet for just about everything nowadays. It’s difficult for most of us to think back to the days before the internet, which meant acquiring information in a totally different way. However, this major advancement in technology also comes at a price.
With a few small modifications, we can alter and better manage the information we share on the internet. Ultimately, these changes protect not only our financial and business information but out privacy and human rights at large.