Rules of safe Internet surfing

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Internet holds many joys, yet it also brings many dangers, and contacting computer virus is only one of them. For example, using unverified websites for online shopping can lead to your banking information being stolen, and sharing your holiday plans on the Facebook page might result in the robbing of your flat. That is why following Internet safety rules and keeping abreast of new Internet threats is so important.

Here are some Internet safety tips:

  1. Turn on automatic updates for Windows and browsers you use

    Found vulnarabilities in the software, that a virus can exploit, often get fixed in the updates. For safe web surfing, keep your operating system and browsers up to date.

  2. Make sure you’ve got an antivirus, a firewall and an anti-spyware

    Keeping your anti-malware turned on and the databases up to date is one of the essential online safety rules. Regularly make a full scan of your computer and storage devices you use, like USB drive.

    You can always download free programs from the Internet, though paid ones generally have more frequent updates, more features and are better at detecting malware, making them better for safe internet browsing.

    Remember that some ‘anti-virus’ programs from the Internet are actually trojans. Install only well-known anti-malware or, at least, search for what people are saying about it first.

  3. Provide for possible data corruption or stealing

    Make backup copies of all important data. Enable Windows System Restore: If some system files or settings become corrupted due to a virus, it might help you return the system to it’s previous state. That will not directly add to your safety on the Internet, but it will minimize the effects of possible malware infection.

  4. Ensure that your wi-fi is safe

    Do not use the default name of your wireless router. Alter it to something other people will not be able to figure out. The same goes for a password: Use a complex one, with a combination of letters and numbers.

    To stay safe online while using public wi-fi, turn off file and printer sharing, and, if possible, use a VPN function to encrypt your communication.

  5. Use secure passwords
    • One of the fundamental rules for Internet safety is setting up strong passwords. Use lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols. The longer the password is, the harder it is to crack.
    • To be safe online, avoid using the same password for different accounts, as, if one of your accounts or sites you registered on gets hacked, the hacker will be able to get into your other accounts. For the same reason it is better not to use the same base password with a few added characters for each website. If your Facebook password is u40Nek2ooRfcb, it is not hard for an experienced cybercriminal to figure out that your Gmail password will be something like u40Nek2ooRgml.
    • Changing passwords regularly is often advised for staying safe online.
    • Enable login notification when possible. That way, if someone accesses your account from a different computer, you will get an email notification.
    • Another one of the tips on Internet safety: Do not use your mother’s maiden name as a security answer. Make up your own question with an answer no one else knows.
    • Never giving away your passwords is an essential online safety tip. Emails or randomly appearing pop-up windows, supposedly from a well-known website, that prompt you to confirm your login and password, are a fraud.
  6. Do not open email attachments

    To stay safe on the Internet, do not open email attachments unless you were waiting for them. Even when the letter is from your friend, his or her account could have been hacked. Ask your friend if they had sent you an email, by the way of phone call or Skype video call.

  7. Do not click on any possible link or banner

    To stay safe online, do not click on links in emails or messages, unless you know the site they lead to is secure. A clue for web safety: To find where the link leads to, hover the cursor over it. You will be able to see the destination in the lower left corner of the browser.

    A rule of secure web browsing: Do not click on advertisement banners and pop-up ads. They can bring you to a malicious site or download some malware on your PC. Use an ad blocker to get rid of such advertisements.

  8. Be careful when downloading something

    To be safe on the Internet, do not download software from unverified websites, as it is one of the usual ways spyware gets on your PC. If you do download something, always choose custom installation mode and make sure no additional programs are installed.

    Checking the downloaded files with the antivirus before opening is a well-known Internet security tip.

  9. Be safe when disclosing sensitive data

    Choose only trustworthy sites for on-line shopping. If the site is unknown to you, investigate what people say about it.

    For your personal safety online, on websites that require confidential information from you, like credit card number, always check that the site’s address is accurate and not misspelled, and there is a padlock symbol and a ‘https:’ (not ‘http:’) in the adress bar. ‘https:’ means the connection is encrypted.

  10. Do not share too much

    Another tip for safe surfing: When registering on a website only give the compulsory information.

    To be safe online, be careful with what you share on social media sites, as they could be used to collect information about you.

    Be aware, that, when you post a photo or a video on the Internet, anyone can download it and use for their own purposes.

    It is easy to pretend to be someone you are not on the Internet. People you have only met online are strangers, even if you’ve ‘known’ them for some time. A important rule for online security: Do not share personal information with online ‘friends’, or it could be used against you.

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