How to Stay Safe Online
With hacks, scams, malware and more, the Internet can feel like a dangerous place these days. And, the recent proliferation of devices, from smartphones and tablets to Internet-connected appliances, has opened us up to even greater risks.
But the good news is that by taking just a small handful of security measures we can greatly reduce our exposure to all these threats.
The best way to be safe on the Internet is to keep your personal details private. Use passwords that include numbers, letters, and special characters. Vary your passwords per site, and change them often. Double-check email addresses to avoid phishing scams, and be wary of where you download files from to avoid viruses.
Update Programs and Windows
Ever wondered why it’s important to install the Windows and programs updates?
Most of them include security updates. Security issues are the worst possible security vulnerabilities – as they may be exploited by malware or hackers. These types of situations are regularly identified in various parts of Windows – ActiveX, Internet Explorer and .Net Framework are just examples.
Other updates address other bugs and issues in Windows and programs. Even though they are not responsible for security vulnerabilities, they might impact the stability of your Operating System, or just be annoying.
Last, but not least, Windows Updates and programs updates sometimes come with new features, while patching some known issues.
Most computers have Windows Updates set up to “Install Updates Automatically”, which is the recommended setting. However, you also have the option of manually checking for updates. Here’s how:
Open Control Panel > Windows Updates and click on “Check for Updates”.
If you’re running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, you can manually check for and install the updates by following these steps:
1. Make sure your PC is plugged in and connected to the Internet using a non-metered connection. Don’t disconnect, unplug, or turn off your PC while the update is being installed.
2. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap or click Settings, and then tapor click Change PC settings. (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)
3. Tap or click Update and recovery, and then tap or click Windows Update.
4. Tap or click Check now.
If you’re running Windows 10, you can manually check for and install the updates by following these steps:
To check for updates now, click the Start Menu button, and then go to Settings > Update & security > Windows Update, and click on Check for updates. If Windows Update says your device is up to date, you have all the updates that are currently available.
By default settings Windows 10 periodically checks for updates so you don’t have to. When an update is available, it’s automatically downloaded and installed, keeping your device up to date with the latest features.
The Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is a tool that can be used to monitor your installed applications for new updates. When started, Secunia PSI will scan your computer for applications and install any updates that are available for them. This allows your computer to remain secure from possible vulnerabilities in your installed programs. It is a free and very useful tool that allows you to keep your computer secure by automatically updating older versions of installed software so that possible security vulnerabilities are patched.
Choose Strong Passwords
Passwords are the keys to your accounts - only the person with the key can access them. When choosing a password, you want to make sure you choose one that is unique, strong, and not easily guessed by strangers or those close to you. Choose a password that uses letters, numbers, lowercase, uppercase, and characters. Never use the same password for different accounts. It is good practice to change your password every few months.
While it’s easy for a human to be tricked by fake login pages, password managers are not tricked in the same way. If you use a password manager (including the built-in password manager in your browser), and it refuses to auto-fill a password, you should hesitate and double check the site you’re on. Better yet, use randomly generated passwords so that you are forced to rely on auto-fill, and less likely to type your password into a fake login page.
Check out, Creating a good password , tutorial.
Use Reputable Antivirus Software
There are more than 600 million malware programs targeting Windows users. Antivirus software also plays a key role in helping you stay safe on the internet. A strong, reputable IT security solution can prevent malicious software from getting onto your machine and clean up any issues that may slip past your system’s defenses. Remember to enable auto updates and ensure your antivirus settings are suited to your needs and browsing habits.
Below are some reliable free and paid antivirus programs.
Avast Home Edition
AVG Antivirus Free Edition
Avira Antivir Personal Edition
ESET Nod32 - paid software
Kaspersky - paid software
Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware – Free and paid versions.
Use a Personal Firewall
Personal firewalls are the best way to protect your home computer against malicious attacks. The personal firewalls monitor all incoming and outgoing traffic on your computer. They check each bundle of data, or packet, that attempts to cross from the Internet to your computer, and vice versa. Every data packet has a signature identifying who sent the packet and how the packet should be processed. Firewalls look at this information and then make access decisions for you. They base these decisions on pre-determined firewall rules. If a packet is of unknown origin or doesn’t fit a rule, the firewall will prompt you to make an ad hoc decision. Beyond their basic duties, personal firewalls monitor and cloak ports to frustrate port scanning techniques. They identify and block known Trojan horses and malicious Web scripts. And, they let you know when an unknown program on your machine is attempting to access the Internet. Essentially, personal firewalls keep the unwanted out, let the desirable in, and keep watch for suspicious activity.
Comodo Firewall Pro
ZoneAlarm Free Firewall
Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Take your safety to the next level by opting in for two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible.
Well, many important websites that contain vital financial or personal information (for example, Gmail, Amazon, PayPal and banking websites), provide an extra layer of security by requiring you to confirm your identity before you’re able to login. Some sites will text you a verification code, while others may give you an authenticator device that is used in conjunction with your usual login details. This might sound like an unnecessary hassle, but 2FA is a very effective way of preventing fraudulent logins.
To find out more about two-factor authentication visit below tutorial.
Why Should I Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is a fantastic way to stay connected when you’re out and about, but it also poses some significant security risks. When using public Wi-Fi, assume someone is watching. Only transmit data that you wouldn’t mind being stolen and never enter login details or banking information when connected to public Wi-Fi. If you do need to use public Wi-Fi to send important information, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to create a more secure connection.
Why Should You Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) When Surfing Internet
How to Choose a Virtual Private Network (VPN) That's Right for You
Browse Using an Encrypted Connection
Whether you’re checking your social media feed or transferring money, always ensure that you’re using an encrypted connection when sending sensitive data. The simplest way to achieve this is to look at your address bar and ensure the website’s address starts with “https” (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) rather than regular old “http” (HyperText Transfer Protocol). The ‘s’, which may also be denoted with a padlock in most browsers, indicates a secure connection, making it more difficult for thieves to steal your data. Never enter personal information into an HTTP website.
Use an Adblocker
A good adblocker can greatly enhance your online experience. Not only does it make pages load faster and remove annoying ads from your online life, it also makes your web browsing experience safer and more private by removing the risk of malvertising (malicious software spread via advertising) and preventing ad servers from keeping tabs on your browsing habits.
There are a few options competing for the title of best adblocker, but we recommend the free and open-source uBlock Origin , which supports most modern browsers.
Web Browsers Privacy Extensions You Should Use
WinPatrol will alert you to hijackings, malware attacks and critical changes made to your computer without your permission.
Using Winpatrol to protect your computer from malicious software
Backup Your Imporatant Files
Backup refers to making copies of data so that these additional copies may be used to restore the original after a data loss event. When using a computer, data loss often appears due to virus infection, system failure, partition damaged and more. In order to ensure data security, you had better back up the entire disk or only your important files.
Here are the 5 best disk cloning and file backup software for your Windows to keep your data safe and secure:
Ease US Todo Backup Home
EaseUS Todo Backup Free is extraordinary compared to other circle cloning software for your Windows. The product is flawless, and straight forward and comes free of cost. With the help of this tool you can openly clone Windows 10 OS to new hard drive inside couple of minutes. You can utilize Disk Clone choice to clone the entire hard drive to another under Windows 10. Unlike the basic copy and paste, Clone will enable you to begin your PC and additionally program typically without reinstalling the system and other applications. Get it here
Macrium Reflect is a free backup, disk imaging and cloning solution for personal and commercial use. Protect your data, upgrade your hard disk or try new operating systems in the safe knowledge that everything is securely saved in an easily recovered backup file. Get it here
Acronis True Image
If you’re an amateur, then Acronis Cloning Software can prove out to be one of the best disk cloning software you’ve ever used so far. Comes with a simple uniquely designed interface and bold icons. The features present in this computer imaging software are quite powerful which allow users to customize the cloning process, just how they want it. Get it here
Regardless of whether there is a single machine or a bunch of computers, Clonezilla can perform disk cloning productively and rapidly. This disk imaging software makes the procedure simple and adaptable in many ways. Get it here
MiniTool ShadowMaker is an all-in-one data protection and disaster recovery solution for PCs. It can back up your Windows Operating System, selected partitions, and even the whole disk. With a copy of backup, you are able to restore computer once a disaster occurs, like system crash, hard drive failure, and more.
The main feature of the program is to create backups of any physical disk that is connected to the computer it is run on without sacrificing important features such as compression, encryption or verification of backups.
The program supports a wide variety of additional features; these include creating bootable recovery media, disk cloning, and different backup schemes. Get it here
How to Create a Solid Backup Strategy
Update Java Runtime Environment
It is very important not only to keep Sun Java up to date but also to remove older versions which have security holes and can be exploited by malware.
Java Update is a feature that keeps your Windows computer up-to-date with the latest Java releases. When you have auto update enabled, your system periodically checks for new versions of Java. When a new version is found you're prompted to give a permission to upgrade your Java installation. You can schedule how often to check for updates , or check manually at any time.
Watch What You Click
One of the most popular and still successful ways bad guys infect your computer, or even entire networks, is through a technique called “phishing.” While there are many variants, a phishing hack begins when someone opens an email attachment that looks legitimate, but in fact immediately infects the user’s computer.
If someone sends you a file or a website you didn't ask for, no matter how much they promise "You'll love this!", don't click on it.
The Netcraft anti-phishing community is effectively a giant neighbourhood watch scheme, empowering the most alert and most expert members to defend everyone within the community against phishing attacks. Once the first recipients of a phishing mail have reported the target URL, it is blocked for community members as they subsequently access the URL. Widely disseminated attacks (people construct phishing attacks send literally millions of emails in the expectation that some will reach customers of the bank) simply mean that the phishing attack will be reported and blocked sooner.
How to Avoid Phishing Attacks
Try Not To Use Public Computers
Depending on your circumstances, this can be difficult. For those without a computer or Web access, Internet cafes are still a very popular option to get online. However, the more a computer is used by different people, the greater the odds that it has been infected or contains spyware that can log keystrokes, email accounts and websites visited.
Some users work around this by bringing circumvention software on their own flash drive -- tools like Tor or Psiphon that can help dodge around firewalls and protect your anonymity. These, however, can still be a bit tricky, and are not fool-proof protection.
It’s no coincidence the news website you always visit knows your name or that your favorite retailer somehow seems to know exactly what you’re looking for. Websites of all types routinely track us now through the use of “cookies” -- small files placed in your browser’s files. The cookie allows a website to track our activity online and tailor an experience in response -- sometimes verging on the creepy.
Every browser has an option in the privacy settings that allows users to erase cookies or allow you to refuse accepting them. But keep in mind that websites often limit services to those who don’t accept cookies.
How to Protect Your Privacy Online
Use a Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You
Be Wary of Chatroom
When you join a chatroom you'll find people are very friendly but the person you are talking to might not always be who they say they are.
People can pretend to be your age and unfortunately there have been cases where adults have pretended to be teenagers and lured young people into meeting them in dangerous situations.
Internet safety tips:
1. Don’t post any personal information online – like your address, email address or mobile number.
2. Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. Once you’ve put a picture of yourself online most people can see it and may be able to download it, it’s not just yours anymore.
3. Keep your privacy settings as high as possible
4. Never give out your passwords
5. Don’t befriend people you don’t know
6. Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online. Speak to your parent or carer about people suggesting you do
7. Remember that not everyone online is who they say they are
8. Think carefully about what you say before you post something online
9. Never tell anyone where you go to school
10. Tell an adult if someone makes inappropriate suggestions to you or makes you feel uncomfortable online
11. Never give out your real name
Be Careful What You Download
A top goal of cybercriminals is to trick you into downloading malware—programs or apps that carry malware or try to steal information. This malware can be disguised as an app: anything from a popular game to something that checks traffic or the weather. Our advice to you is, don't download apps that look suspicious or come from a site you don't trust.
Be Careful What You Post
The Internet does not have a delete key, as that young candidate in New Hampshire found out. Any comment or image you post online may stay online forever because removing the original (say, from Twitter) does not remove any copies that other people made. There is no way for you to "take back" a remark you wish you hadn't made, or get rid of that embarrassing selfie you took at a party. Don't put anything online that you wouldn't want your mom or a prospective employer to see.
How to Protect Yourself on Social Networks
Always know the sites you download from or visiting are safe.
Dr. Web Link Scan – Scan a link or file before you download it by copy and then paste the download or url link into the white box then click Scan
Bitdefender TrafficLight - It is a free cross-browser add-on that intercepts, processes, and filters all Web traffic, blocking any malicious content and taking browser security to new levels.
Internet security risks are to be respected, not feared. By following the internet safety tips outlined in this article, you’ll be prepared to protect yourself against the cyber criminals lurking in the dingy corners of the web.
How to Prevent Malware From Infecting Your Computer
How to Avoid Phishing Attacks
How to Secure Your Cloud Storage
How to Secure Your Text Messages
How to Secure Your Voice Conversations
How to Secure Your Email
Web Tracking Technologies
How to Anonymize Your Internet Use
What is Private Browsing and Why You Need Private Browsing
What is Social Engineering?
Encrypt Your Local Files, Folders, and Drives
How to Protect Yourself Against Scammers
How to Prevent Identity Theft
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