Top Internet Safety Tips To Help Stay Safe Online

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Over half of the world's population uses the internet regularly across desktop browsing and mobile internet devices. And, since the internet is such an innovative and fast-moving environment, most people have dozens of accounts with personal details to manage. Even with innovative antivirus software, we still need to take some initiative to keep safe online. That's why it's a good idea for everyone to learn online safety tips and rules. Read on for easy tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe online.

Why is internet safety so important?

The internet offers us some fantastic possibilities; however, it comes with risks. These risks include fraud, catfishing, cyberbullying, invasion of privacy, identity theft, and dangers to children from offensive images and sexual predators. Nowadays, people have unlimited access to this global communication tool, so it's vitally important to create boundaries and best practices online. There are numerous types of cyber threats online that you should be aware of; we’ve outlined our expert tips on how to stay safe online. 

How to stay safe on the internet: tips from the experts

What can you do to keep yourself safe online? If you don't know where to start when staying safe online, you've come to the right place. The 16 tips below will help you get to grips with the basics of internet security and encourage you to think more carefully about how you use the internet and who you interact with online. 1. Make sure your privacy settings are enabled You’re one of the 4.6 billion people worldwide using social media platforms, which means you have a lot of personal information on the internet and need to take measures to remain safe online. The good news is that social platforms, website browsers, and additional software all have privacy settings that can be optimised. Make sure to use all privacy settings available.

2. Practice safe browsing

While many website browsers have in-built features for browsing, it doesn't always guarantee that a web address is safe to visit. For this reason, you should practice safe browsing independently. You can do this by ensuring that your browser is up-to-date and using the latest versions. You should also install security software and ensure your passwords are strong and diverse.

3. Personal information should be kept professional and limited

Personal information is a digital commodity that increases the risk of cybercrime, but with social media accounts, it's nearly impossible not to share. Luckily there are two basic ways to keep how you share online safe. Firstly, you can set up robust safety features such as a strong password and operating system. And secondly, you can simply limit your personal information online. If you limit personal information to professional need-to-know info, you will be ultimately safer.

4. Set strong passwords

If you're wondering how to stay safe online, information always suggests passwords are a good place to start. However, passwords are not always the best way to secure your personal information online; that's because cybercriminals can use software to reveal basic passwords. However, a password or two-factor authentication is still highly effective. Ensure you set strong passwords and save them to the keychain instead of attempting to remember them. And remember, random passwords are stronger. Try ESET’s strong password generator. 

5. Take caution about what you post

Social media is an amazing innovation, but it comes with some serious downsides. Posting on social media can influence your reputation in the wider community; it can also put your home at risk of crime and your info at risk of fraud. Unfortunately, many of the posts on social media go up when people are emotional, leading to adverse consequences. So take care when posting.

6. Be wary of what you download

Whether you are using a desktop device, a mobile phone, or other mobile devices, you need to exercise caution with what you download. Downloading software from unsecured sources online can lead to malware being installed on your devices that can steal passwords and personal info stored on your computer. Security software helps to screen digital downloads.

7. Ensure that your anti-virus software is up to date

If you're wondering how to be safe online, anti-virus software is one of the best defences against malware and digital viruses. Most operating systems have some form of security software installed, but it's not always adequate to protect against the latest cybercrime innovations. Since malware and viruses are always evolving, you need to make sure your anti-virus software is fit-for-purpose and up-to-date. If you’re looking for an alterative antivirus solution, download ESET cyber security software which includes a 30 day free trial. 

8. Use secure sites for online purchases

If you don't use secure websites for your online purchases, you risk losing personal info to cybercriminals. A secure website will have a security certificate that locks the connection and protects your info from being accessed by third parties. A secure website will have an "HTTPS" website address rather than an "HTTP" address, meaning that it uses a security certificate. If you're wondering how to remain safe online when shopping, look for an "HTTPS" address!

9. Be wary of who you meet on the internet

No matter what age you are, there are risks involved with meeting people online. No matter how long you have been talking to someone, they are still strangers, and there is no guarantee they are who they say they are. Never divulge too much personal information to someone you met online, and if you take the next step to meet in person, inform your friends and always choose a public place.

10. Ensure that your internet connection is secure

An unsecured internet connection can lead to the loss of account data and passwords. If your personal data is compromised, it can put things like your bank account at risk and lead to your name and details being used for criminal purposes. You can ensure your internet connection is secure by using different passwords on the computer and the router and keeping software updated.

11. Use a firewall

Firewalls can be set up to protect your computer from untrusted networks and devices. A firewall is a security system for your network that can be programmed to filter incoming and outgoing traffic. You can easily configure a firewall on your desktop device; most operating systems come firewall ready. ESET’s cyber security pro includes a personal firewall as part of your plan.

12. Keep an eye out for the latest scams

Cybercrime is a continuous game of cat and mouse; once the authorities have discovered a scam, the criminals are already trying to outthink them again. Scams also originate in other countries and through text messages and email. It's worth getting to know the main types of scams (like phishing), but scams have become more sophisticated, so you need to stay vigilant.

13. Teach your kids about phishing scams

Phishing is a type of scam that encourages users to click an email or text message link. Once hooked, the software can deploy on your computer and collect valuable data (a form of malware). Other types of phishing are less crafty and will simply ask you to enter personal details. Make sure you teach your kids about this type of scam to protect your family devices.

14. Use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. When you download and deploy a VPN on your computer, it creates a private internet protocol address (IP), allowing you to browse privately and securely. With a VPN, you don't need to worry about hackers and snoopers hanging around on a public network since browsing activity and personal data are protected.

15. Make sure you close unused accounts

Chances are your unused accounts are gathering dust somewhere in the nether regions of the internet, but they might not be entirely unused. Hackers can access these unused accounts and use them fraudulently or build up a picture of your digital persona using any available information. With this in mind, it's a good idea to shut down your old unused accounts and websites.

16. Make use of a password management system

If you're concerned about your online security, invest in a password management system. Most browsers and operating systems have a password management system. Still, it’s not the same as having your own platform to generate complex passwords, retrieve them, and store them in an encrypted database. Always create complex passwords with special characters that will be hard for hackers to guess.

How do you explain internet safety to a child?

It's common for children to be less aware of the risks of using the internet; they have not lived long enough to acquire knowledge of the dangers. And depending on their age, controlling a child's internet access can seem authoritative and risks an adverse response. Instead, open a conversation with them about internet security, and ensure they understand the risks.

What dangers can you face on the internet?

Nowadays, most people have their details online and other information that cybercriminals could use. If you want to remain safe online, you need to be aware of the risks and take measures to secure your identity against fraud and identity theft. Other dangers you could face include cyberbullying, invasion of privacy, and risks to children like grooming.

What should I look for when purchasing internet security software?

These days, we need internet security software to protect our computers and devices from online dangers. Unless you have internet security software, there is nothing to stop cybercriminals from sending phishing scams and malware. When buying internet security software, consider the price against the features; in general, you get what you pay for.

Stay safe online with ESET

Cybercriminals are innovative and relevant; they keep pace with the latest developments in internet security and work hard to compromise them. The 16 tips in the above article are the best way to stay safe online, and most of them are pretty easy to implement. For the best security, an affordable and up-to-date security software system helps to lock the door on internet criminals. So, enjoy the freedom of the internet whilst being safe online and minimising the risks thanks to these handy tips. Try ESET cyber security today for free, with a 30-day.