As the Internet becomes more and more a part of our lives, we all need to be able to protect ourselves. If the Web is the world and your sphere of online acquaintances is your neighborhood, then consider your online experience like going out to the playground alone for the first time. You’re in largely foreign territory, and even those who look like they want to be your best friend could be the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. Protect yourself; follow these 10 steps for a safe, worry-free, online experience.
Don’t Give Anything Away: One of the biggest ways people’s information is compromised online is when they give it away. There are malicious people out there who will lie to you and tell you things that aren’t true. It’s sad but true. Don’t become a statistic; make sure that before you give any info away: credit card, driver’s license, social security, address, bank info; that you’re doing it legitimately. Better yet, find out if you can speak with someone or do it in person.
Cookies Management: Another way in which bad things come about for users is with cookies. These tracking devices are used by marketers to find out where you went and what you did. As an online consumer, you have the right to block cookies; but then you won’t be able to access some websites. Most of us just live with cookies, but you should be advised about who’s looking at what and how. Download software to manage your cookies experience; hit up any of the search options to find the software that’s best for your operating system.
Email Anonymity: Don’t give out your email address. This can be tough, because email is how people communicate. But in the online world, giving your email to the wrong individual can be troublesome. Don’t open things if you don’t know what they are, and the general rule is not to publish your email address in places you wouldn’t want to hear back from.
Fast Friends: Meeting “people” online can be a rush, but before you go giving away your cell phone number and locker combination in a chat room, take a deep breath. Oftentimes, people you meet in chatrooms only want your personal information. Take your online relationships slow.
Big Brother’s Watching: If you are sitting at a screen all day, be wary of any info sent over public computers. I recently went to my online bank at work on the work computer, and I got a phone call in the middle of the nightfrom my bank about it. The work computer was totally compromised, and they thought that I was a hacker. I had to change my passwords on my laptop. Don’t view anything on someone else’s computer that you wouldn’t want anyone else to see.
Sign Out: If you are using public computers (at work or anywhere), remember to sign out of your accounts and get that confirmation screen that you’re out. You’d hate to find all your contacts getting spam from you because you left an email account window open on a public computer.
Prizes for Nothing: I got a pop up “chat” from my mom the other day. That’s strange; mom will usually just call. The “chat” from mom read, “Whoa, I can’t believe it! Click here to get a free iPad!” Don’t ever click on that garbage. Report spam as spam, and get out of there!
Spam is Spam: While we’re on the subject of spam, anything you find in your spam inbox is probably spam, no matter how legitimate it sounds.
Make Your Computer’s Security Top Priority: If you don’t know anything about computer security, get informed. If you have a young child in the house, put parental controls on his or her online experience. Talk to your kids about what you learn in computer security, and use all the security out there that is available to consumers.
Encrypted: If you’re really hard-core about your security, you can encrypt your whole experience. You’ve got to get that done or get help from someone who really knows what they’re doing, and then you have to follow the procedures, cumbersome though they may be. That’s really the only way to make encryption work for you.
Computer security in an online world is a real threat. Computer security is something we should all be conscious of whenever we’re online. Consider these 10 steps to getting yourself free of the threats to your online persona, your online circle, your computer and your life.