The Keys to Cyber Security: Protecting Yourself Online
In a society where sharing and social media are the norm and anything can be accomplished online, from banking and applying for a credit card to choosing a new car, it's critical to know how to protect yourself online. A basic understanding of cyber security is critical for anyone who conducts business, shops, or engages in social media interactions online. If you aren't keeping yourself safe, it's time to change your online habits.
Online Shopping: What to Watch For
Doing your shopping online, especially around the busy, stress-filled holiday season, seems like a great way to avoid the crowds and make your shopping easier. Unfortunately, it's also a great way to fall into a security scam. Before making a purchase online, check out a few critical pieces of information.
- Read the policies. What are the shipping and return policies on the site? If you aren't satisfied, what are your options? Make sure you understand them before making a purchase through a new website for the first time.
- Check out reviews. What did other buyers have to say about the website and the products they're offering? Are there more satisfied customers or more who are unhappy with their purchase?
- Does the site have secure check-out options? Look for security certificates or the secure symbol that lets you know your payment information is protected.
- Choose your method of payment carefully. PayPal offers a high level of buyer protection. Using a credit card enables you to get your money back if you aren't satisfied with the purchase. Other online payment options may offer less security.
You should always monitor credit card statements and bank accounts carefully. The sooner you recognize a fraudulent transaction, the sooner you can act to restore your money to your account. This is particularly important if you shop online, since the last thing you want is for someone to gain unauthorized access to your card through one of these online shops.
Mobile devices make it easy for you to carry your online presence with you wherever you go. That convenience, however, can have its downfalls. Your mobile device should be kept with you, never left sitting. You should also password protect it to ensure that it can't be casually picked up, your private information spilled out for anyone to see. Be cautious about what permissions you grant to apps, especially when it comes to in-app purchases or sharing information from one app to another.
It's also critical to be aware of links or downloads from sources that you don't recognize. When in doubt, don't click! Keep in mind that viruses or attacks on smart phones or other devices can leave you just as vulnerable as attacks on your home PC--if not more so.
If you're banking online, making regular payments, or sharing sensitive personal information, you need password protection that's hard to crack. All those sites that recommend that you use a variety of symbols in a long password have it right: the more complex your password is, the harder it is to break it! Choose complex passwords that are different from one another for all of your security needs or, even better, use password management software to ensure your online safety.
Social Media Safety
Your social media accounts are a great opportunity for you to share your life with family and friends. They're also a great way for you to end up sharing too much with someone who is a threat to your or your family. When you're on your social media accounts, keep these rules in mind:
- Don't accept friend requests from people that you don't really know. Choose your friends carefully.
- Moderate what you share on social media. If you don't want your current or future boss to see it, it's probably best to keep it off the internet.
- Check those privacy settings. If you regularly share pictures of your kids or other semi-personal information, make sure your privacy settings are tight enough to keep out anyone but your friends. Check them regularly to ensure that they're still set the way you intended!
- Keep information about vacations and major purchases private, especially if you have a wide list of friends or followers.
Keeping yourself safe online is a challenge. By remaining vigilant, however, you'll discover that it's possible to take advantage of all the perks of internet use without being trapped by negatives. Pay attention to what you're sharing and how you share it, monitor your finances, and take advantage of antivirus software to protect your computer, phone, and other devices, and you can enjoy a safer online experience.