Cyber-safety is the safety of your information online, and it’s a growing problem in today’s world. As computers become more integrated into our lives, it is best to know the latest internet safety facts in order to prevent criminals from getting their hands on your personal information.
1) 44% of PC users do not have a firewall properly configured
According to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), the first precaution everyone should take is to get a firewall and an anti-virus security. Firewalls merely block unauthorized access, and anti-virus security is aimed at malicious software. There is no need to have more than necessary, as computer clutter can be dangerous. Once the appropriate software is installed, make sure to keep it updated and remember to scan for spyware periodically.
2) Not all sites are secure
A secured website uses encryption to ensure that malicious software can’t gather your information. To check the security of a page, look for the lock sign found in either the search bar (near the top of the screen) or the status bar (usually in the bottom right corner of a page). A website that’s URL begins with “https” (not just http) is also a site that has been secured. Make sure you do this before giving any information to a site, even if they just ask for your email.
However, the lock sign on your screen doesn’t necessarily mean that your information is completely safe. Some untrustworthy sites can recreate the lock to make them look safe, so it’s also a good idea to check the certificate that proves the safety of the site.
To do this, click on the lock icon to pull up a screen that gives the information about the certificate. It should primarily give three things; who the certificate was issued to, who it was issued by, and when it will expire. Don’t trust any site that has an expired certificate, or one that lasts over two years. It’s especially important to check the safety of any site that requires personal information like a credit card number or address.
3) Your music could come with a virus
It may seem obvious to some, but websites that contain inappropriate or illegal content like sexually explicit material or pirated music are particularly susceptible to dangerous viruses or hackers. Sometimes just clicking on a link can install what is called a “drive-by download” that will send malicious software to whatever device you are using. To maintain optimum security, these sites should be avoided.
4) 88% of mobile Wi-Fi hotspots are insecure
Keep in mind that portable devices like phones or tablets are no safer than a computer. Although it’s less common to access “important information” like bank accounts on these hotspots, criminals are always looking for personal information that can be easily found on social media sites.
5) 20% of internet users have had a social network account compromised
Social media worlds are like the streets of a metropolitan area. Amidst the glamour and fun, there lurks scams, viruses, and phishers waiting to steal your information.
When navigating social media websites, some good internet safety rules to observe are to keep your security settings high, don’t easily give out personal information and don’t click on links unless you are certain that the destination is a safe place to go.
Another good tip is to never click on messages that look suspicious, even if it is from a friend or someone you know. Instead, double check with the source to see if they recall sending you a message to make sure that their account has not been compromised.
Nowadays, people often post about their every action on their social media accounts. This can be a potential threat to not only your safety, but your home’s safety. Posting about your location can allow thieves to know when you are not home. In addition, do not post pictures of your prized belongings. It can give people incentive to break into your home. Always try to keep as much of your personal information private as possible.
For additional safety tips on social media, read the 5 ways that Facebook can put your home at risk.
6) Cyberbullying happens to everyone
A disturbing 95% of teens on social networks are reported to have witnessed cruel behavior online. But whether you are an adult or a child, everyone on the internet is susceptible to cyberbullying. In order to protect yourself or people close to you from cyberbullying, a good safety tip is to familiarize yourself with the policies and regulations of your frequently visited websites, as well as your state law regarding these types of situations.
Similarly, educational facilities, such as colleges and universities, can take the extra step of making their policies and procedures against cyberbullying more readily accessible in order to better prepare all individuals.
When faced with negative or upsetting comments, a good practice is to not retaliate, but instead report the situation to website moderators or authorities. Additional steps are saving the harassing messages to show a trusted adult and blocking the individual if possible.
7) Children and teens need protection too
When it comes to internet safety for children and teens, parents can play an active role in creating a fun, but safe environment. A great safety tip for parents is to take the extra time to learn to navigate their child’s social media websites and to keep the computers in the house within common areas. Take time to set rules and boundaries, and explain why this is necessary and how to deal with negative situations on the internet, such as cyberbullying.
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