By now, most of us know that we need to take steps to stay safe online, but not everyone knows what that means. There was a time when all most people had to do was make sure they had strong passwords and not give out private information to strangers, but advancements in technology have made things a little more complicated than that. Internet crime, sometimes in the form of fraudulent representation of a product or service, is on the rise and more complicated than ever before, and you need to know how to protect yourself from it.
Whether you just like to browse Facebook for fun or you use the Internet for your small business, you need to make sure you stay safe online. Here are some tips that will help.
Use a VPN
While you probably already use a password-encrypted router when you use the internet at home or at work, public wi-fi is still unsecured and leaves you vulnerable whenever you have to go online while on the road. To protect yourself, use a virtual private network whenever you access public wi-fi. A virtual private network or VPN creates a secure internet connection no matter where you are, and you can find one for a relatively low price.
Protect Your Mobile Device
When keeping yourself safe online, don’t just assume that protecting your laptop or desktop will be enough. People spend just as much time on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets these days, with 74% of users being more likely to return to mobile-friendly websites. Mobile devices are just as vulnerable to Internet crime as any desktop or laptop, so they need to be protected as well. Aside from installing a VPN, you should also only download apps that are available from official app stores, back up all of your data, and be careful what you share online.
Be Careful Where You Click
As a rule, you should never click on an ad or link that you don’t think you can completely trust. Ads that look too good to be true probably are, and anything that looks sketchy probably is. These ads are all over the place on practically every website, so don’t click on them if you don’t think you trust them. The same goes for any strange links you see in your email. Spam filters work well, but they aren’t foolproof.
Your private information should always be kept private. While that does mean not sharing bank information or your social security number online, it also means being careful what you share on social media. Avoid posting too many photos of your home where strangers can see them, and try not to broadcast when you’re going to be out of town. It’s usually okay if your closest friends and family know where you’re going, but anyone can see a Facebook or Twitter account if you don’t have it locked down.
Keep Your Websites Safe
If you have an online business that relies on a website, make sure that you trust who is designing the site. A great way to ensure that your site is safe from hackers is to stick with a design build method. A design build firm has one team of experts that take care of an entire project from top to bottom, and while that mostly refers to construction, it can apply to web design as well. The fewer people involved in a site’s construction, the easier it will be to keep it safe.
Use Your Head
For the most part, staying safe online involves using common sense. Be careful what you share, who you talk to, and where you click. A VPN and a well-designed website both help, but there is never a better substitution for common sense when it comes to being safe online.