The Internet is a fabulous tool for staying up-to-date on current events, gathering data and information and connecting with colleagues, clients and friends.
Every time you go online, however, you open yourself up to an array of potentially misleading advertisements, schemes and spoofs by hackers and identity thieves, and viruses that can take your computer over and steal your personal information.
These 10 tips will help safeguard you from these and other threats and keep you protected and productive while you are surfing the Internet.
- Keep your firewall and antivirus software up to date. These are your first lines of defense against unwanted intruders. Most firewalls can be set to update themselves automatically and there are many excellent brands of antivirus software from reputable companies that are inexpensive or even free.
- Don’t include personal information in your email address or online usernames. Using your full name and the year you were born is a popular habit that makes it easy for people to identify you and that’s a problem; identity thieves now have a large chunk of the information they need to make your life miserable.
- Don’t open unsolicited email. If you don’t know the sender of a particular email, don’t open the message, as you could be exposing yourself up to a virus or a phishing scheme. Even worse, once your computer is infected, spammers can actually take control of it to attack other computers.
- Never click on a pop-up or banner ad. Setting your browser to block pop-ups will help, but some will probably still get through. These ads look harmless and promise something good in return for clicking on them, but the reality is that you may be downloading malware that can harm your computer or invade your privacy.
- Be wary of free software. While freeware and shareware from reputable sources can improve your computing experience greatly, downloading these items without checking out the source can load your computer with spyware.
- Be wise about opening email attachments. Again, if you don’t know the sender, you shouldn’t open the email, but it’s especially important that you don’t open the attachment; a great deal of spyware and malware is distributed this way.
- When given the choice, elect to receive emails in plain text rather than in HTML. While it’s great to be able to see all of the graphics and click on links to be taken directly to a favorite website, HTML emails can contain “web bugs” that send information such as your IP address and your browser and operating system types to a remote server.
- Make sure email senders are really who they say they are. What looks like a legitimate email from your bank or another known company might in fact be a phishing scheme, designed to send you to a phony website where your personal information can be stolen. Phishing emails often contain misspellings and other details that just don’t seem quite right.
- Stay safe when social networking. While it’s great to be able to make new friends and connect with old friends from the past, keep the personal information you share on these networks to a minimum. Never post your date of birth or home address on a social media site. Remember that your data can be accessed by people who are not your friends.
- Remember that nothing online is private. Once you’ve sent something out into Cyberspace, it’s there forever.
About The Author: Randall Davidson is a co-founder of the innovative proofreading company, ProofreadingServices.Us. Through running his proofreading service, Randall has learned that it is essential to take certain precautions while online in order to protect important information and to safeguard his company’s reputation.
ProofreadingServices.Us, which specializes in providing online proofreading services, is committed to helping clients, both through articles like this on the company’s blog and through the professional proofreading services that the company provides.
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