13 Internet Safety Tips To Keep You And Your Family Safe Online

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The internet has become an extension of ourselves. We feed it our personal information daily, we use it to work remotely, and we communicate through it. In many ways, being online has made our lives easier. Barriers have been lifted, and the information age has given way to a boundless potential for education and advancement.

But, despite how all-encompassing the internet has become, many browsers are still unaware of how to conduct proper internet safety. We tick privacy policy boxes without reading the terms and conditions, download files carelessly, and take a one-password-fits-all approach to security.

Hackers are big fans of reckless internet users. Although most tech-savvies will be able to identify the tell-tale signs of a scam, other hack approaches are not so obvious, as the internet has advanced, as has the capabilities of hackers.

The only way to avoid leaving your personal data prey to scammers is to learn proper internet safety. In this article, we'll expand on our cyber security safety tips and delve further into how fully safeguard your family against cyber threats so that you and your children can browse the internet with confidence.

13 Tips on How to Keep Safe Online

1. Personal information should be kept professional and limited

Personal information is called so for a reason. Oversharing information online could put you at risk. Such information as your address, the name of your high school, or even your date of birth could be used by hackers to answer security questions or guess your passwords.

Obviously, there is professional information that you have to share about yourself. Particularly so if you work online, such as your National Insurance Number. If you have to share such information online with colleagues, send it to them as an encrypted file rather than posting it blatantly on the internet. Failure to do so could lead to identity theft.

As a general rule, don't post anything on social media that you wouldn't give out to strangers in person. Discuss sharing boundaries with your children, and teach them not to share their phone number, location, or the name of their school. Read more about online safety facts for children.

2. Leave your privacy settings turned on

To protect the information that you and your family share online, ensure that your privacy settings are kept on at all times. Privacy settings are designed to give the browser complete control over who sees and can access your online data, the sites you visit, and the things you post.

Webpages typically prefer that you keep your privacy settings off so that they can collect data for marketing purposes. However, deselecting privacy allows hackers to access your personal information.

Your web browser and social media have individual privacy settings, which may be set to 'off' by default.

When visiting a new webpage, review the site's privacy policy to assess how well your online data is protected. If a webpage doesn't have an easily accessible and comprehensible privacy policy, you should leave the site.

3. Safe browsing is a good practice to follow

Avoid malware by practising safe browsing. Webpages that appear unsafe, with lots of pop-ups and ads, probably are unsafe. Don't entertain suspicious sites - as soon as you feel that there's something not right about a webpage, it’s best to leave it. The longer you stay on a dubious webpage, the higher your chance of it infecting your computer with malware.

One way of keeping your family clear of suspect websites is to turn on Google Safe Browsing in your settings. This service checks the safety of billions of URLs daily, identifies the web pages that may pose a potential threat, and prevents you from visiting them.

4. Check to see if your internet connection is secure

Keeping your Wi-Fi password protected is essential in keeping hackers from using it. To secure your internet connection, make sure that the username and password of your router are impossible for hackers to guess. You can also edit the SSID so that others won't be able to identify the model you are using.

You can also make your internet connection more secure by changing its encryption type. If your Wi-Fi uses either WPA or WEP, you should change it to WPA2. WPA2 uses Advanced Encryption Standards (AES), which provides your internet with the highest level of security possible.

5. Take caution when downloading

Only download from websites and app stores you trust. No matter how authentic the download link appears, it's best to look for a reputable source if you are unfamiliar with the website. Hackers are known to set up fake download links for popular software and applications.

Most of the time, these download links will lead browsers to questionable web pages or phishing sites, where they'll be exposed to viruses and other forms of malware.

A fake download button often appears in the form of an unexpected pop-up, sometimes with an AdChoices logo in the top right-hand corner. If you see this AdChoices logo, it means it's an advertisement scam and not a legitimate download link.

6. Select strong passwords

Do not include any personal information or dates within any password you set online to maintain cyber security. To ensure internet safety, ensure that each password is around 14 characters long, consists of upper and lower case letters, and features numbers.

Make sure that no two passwords you make are the same - create a brand new, highly complex password each time you are required to create one.

Get your family in the habit of using an online password generator to select a password and a password master to store them.

7. Make online purchases from secure sites

When shopping online, safe browsing is essential. Maintain your safety online by only shopping on encrypted websites. You can identify an encrypted website by examining the link.

As a general rule, any website you're required to put in highly personal information, such as your bank details, should feature a padlock in the address and start with HTTPS. This stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and means that the site is encrypted. HTTPS sites scramble your data, making it impossible for hackers to decode.

If the web address starts with HTTP, it means that the webpage is not secure and therefore unsafe for online shopping.

8. Monitor online activities

If you allow your children to explore the internet freely, it's essential to keep an eye on their activities to ensure they stay on secure websites. Just as you should monitor their friend requests, you should watch the apps and websites they are using and check these sites for legitimacy.

You should also regularly ask your child what they're looking at online and who they're talking to online. It's also important to regularly review your child's browser and search history.

9. Be cautious of who you meet online

Hackers set up fake accounts to deceive the unsuspecting and steal personal information. Social media cloning remains a significant threat online, where a hacker will replicate a profile and conduct a social engineering scam.

It is advisable to avoid all friend requests from accounts you are unfamiliar with. If you receive a friend request from someone you know, be cautious of the profile until you can confirm it's them. If they message you and immediately start asking for personal information or financial aid, do not respond and block the account.

Children can often fall for fake social media profiles online, so it's best to monitor who they are adding and prevent them from meeting up with someone they met online.

10. Ensure that your antivirus software is up to date

Antivirus software helps protect you from all forms of malware, and it's a handy tool to have as you browse. Antivirus software analyses all incoming code and files and removes obvious sources of malware.

As online browsers and operating systems update, your antivirus software will also need to be kept up-to-date. Subscription-based antivirus software, such as Eset Cyber Security Pro, updates automatically.

However, other types of antivirus software may require manual updating. Whichever antivirus software you use, ensure that you keep automatic updates on and regularly check to ensure that the software is running on the latest version.

11. Keep an eye out for phishing attempts

Your internet safety can be compromised by various phishing techniques, the most common form being deceptive phishing. This is when a hacker e-mails you claiming to be someone they're not, like your bank. Outwardly, they may appear to be who they say they are, with the branding laid out accurately, which convinces the unsuspecting to believe them.

Deceptive phishers will likely encourage you to click a link attached to an e-mail with the promise of receiving free gifts or a discount. This link, however, may lead you to a site that is crawling with malware.

To spot phishing attempts, check if the e-mail received is from the company the sender claims to be. If it's coming from a Gmail account, you can consider it a phishing attempt. Additionally, check the quality of the writing, whether the link attached matches the brand and the overall tone of the e-mail. A sense of urgency indicates a phisher typically sent the e-mail.

Children can often fall victim to a phishing attempt online - be sure to teach them how to identify untrustworthy web pages.

12. On public Wi-Fi, go private

Unless you have a VPN, it is strongly advised to refrain from online shopping or checking online banking while using public Wi-Fi. Generally, only use public Wi-Fi when it is necessary. When using public hotspots, your connection can be intercepted by hackers, who can steal all the data you're communicating with the connection point.

If you plan to use public Wi-Fi frequently, no matter what you intend to use it for, it would be a good idea to invest in a VPN to ensure internet safety.

It's also vital to steer clear of unsecured public Wi-Fi that doesn't require a sign-in process or password. Hackers have been known to set up fake hotspots to deceive those looking for an easy-access free Wi-Fi service.

13. Stay vigilant for new scams

Hackers take advantage of news stories. An array of new online scams emerged throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, from fraudulent government websites to fake NHS e-mails.

The challenge of maintaining internet safety is constantly evolving, so it's important to stay vigilant for emerging scams.

Your internet safety questions answered

What is the best way to explain internet safety to your kids?

When explaining internet safety facts to kids, it's best to set internet safety rules for your whole family to abide by. These rules should include defined boundaries on what sites they are permitted to visit, what information they can share online, and what to do if they need help when browsing the web.

What are the best practices for how to be safe online?

To ensure safety online, you should invest in a VPN and good quality antivirus software and keep both up-to-date. Make sure to explain to your children how to browse safely, identify unreliable websites, and spot phishing attempts.

How much does anti-virus software cost?

From just £29.9o for the whole year, Eset Internet Security can protect you against malware like worms, spyware, ransomware, and other internet viruses. Why not download a free 30-day free trial today?

What does a strong password look like?

A secure and robust password contains upper and lower case letters, numbers, punctuation, and special characters. There should be a character volume of around14.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to stay safe on the internet is as crucial as ever. By practising the how to keep safe online advice listed above and teaching your children the importance of internet safety, you can safeguard your whole family against malware and hackers.

Identity theft, malware, and falling for phishing scams are all real threats for those who don't practice safe browsing online. Don't give the hackers a chance to steal your information: get antivirus software, use a VPN, stick to secure sites, leave your privacy settings on, and make sure your passwords are secure.