Cyber crime is at its peak in 2018. This means that even those of us who have never even thought of getting online protection are now reconsidering their usual ways. We hear stories of technically savvy users getting their accounts hacked and money stolen, and those are enough to scare the living lights out of most people. How do you stay safe?
There are actually three important things that all of us need to be aware of to improve our online security, and thankfully those things are easy to remember.
1. Watch where you are going!
We all can get carried away when browsing a familiar website, such as Facebook, YouTube or a news site. We click a link that takes us to a page, then another link there that takes us to yet another page… Soon enough we may find our way to a website set up by hackers with the sole purpose of getting our personal information and stealing our identity or our money. How do we prevent it? Well, all we need to do is watch where we are going. As easy as that! Before you click any link, see what kind of a link it is. Is it an ad? Does the link look fishy? Does it clearly tell you where you will end up when you click it? Sometimes hovering your mouse cursor over the link will show you the true address you will be taken to, even if the link itself says something else.
Basically, just pausing for a moment before clicking any link is a great habit that can one day save you a lot of headache.
2. Do not download viruses!
You may say “Duh!” Well, the reality is that we often forget all safety measures and click download links we shouldn’t. Viruses and many other types of malware often make their way onto our computers with files we download from the web. They may lay low for a while and get active days, weeks or even months later, which means that we may never find out which download the virus came with. How do you prevent it? Just be sure to download stuff from websites you can absolutely trust. Torrent sites are famous for distributing viruses and malware, so a good safety measure is to never even think of downloading pirated software. Giveaway sites are a good alternative: you can often score great premium software titles for zero dollars on such sites, but you do have to make sure the site is legitimate and actually distributes license keys issued by the software maker. One such website that partners with software publishing companies is the Giveaway Club.
If you want to download actual freeware or are willing to pay for software, do make sure you still get it from either the manufacturer directly or from a well-known distribution platform.
3. Keep your private data private!
That may seem like a no-brainer, but many of us tend to part with personal information too easily these days. A website asks you to enter your name, date of birth, your address or other private info, and you don’t even pause to think before giving it all to them. A good rule is to check what’s actually mandatory and what’s optional on various forms that ask for personal info. Mandatory fields are usually marked with an asterisk, so be sure to provide the bare minimum of the info you are asked for. Even if a website is as big as Yahoo! – we all have heard of the big data breach that compromised thousands of user accounts a couple of years ago.
Even though it’s been discussed online, on TV, in newspapers and on the radio, phishing scams still catch thousands of victims every year in their webs. That’s thousands of people who are left to deal with getting their identities restored and getting their finances back in order. Do not be one of those unlucky guys! Your bank will never send you a form asking to enter your credit card info with the security code, CID/CVV or other similarly confidential info. Before you ever provide such information on a website or a web form, do check and double-check who you are giving it to. If in any doubt, simply don’t do it!
These are the main things everyone should keep in mind when browsing the web these days. If you read, re-read and follow these tips, you are sure to have a much safer online experience.