15 Internet Safety Tips For Stay Secure Online – Want to make sure you and your family are well protected online? Are you afraid of viruses, scams and other internet threats? When you browse the internet, whether from a smartphone or a computer, you are always exposed to various dangers. Since prevention is much better than cure, in this article I will reveal the essential tricks to significantly improve your online life . Find out how to protect your browsing and that of your children with these 15 internet safety tips .
Online safety has always been very important. Today in particular, our information on the internet is increasing daily, so the risk of it falling into the wrong hands is not only higher, but can have far more dire consequences. Nonetheless, in 2023, there are still many people who do not take even the most basic measures to defend their digital identity, putting the whole family at risk.
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15 Internet Safety Tips For Stay Secure Online
The results are clear: millions of victims of phishing scams and other computer fraud, computers infested with hundreds of malware and seven-figure identity theft . Luckily, protecting yourself online isn’t all that difficult and these 15 tips to improve your internet security(and that of your whole family), they will be able to help you easily.
1. Protect your privacy
Today, practically all the sites, services and apps you use collect information about you, to profile you and show you targeted advertising, but not only. If you crave more privacy, here are two essential tools you should implement into your online life right away:
- VPNs . VPNs hide your original IP address, encrypting all of your online traffic. This will allow you to have much more privacy, since sites and services will not be able to trace your original origin, nor access your Internet browsing.
- Adblocker . Ad Blocker extensions, as the name implies, block ads that would otherwise be shown to you on the different sites you visit, but not only. In many cases, they also manage to block the collection of your information and that of your device. Not surprisingly, you can find AdBlock in my complete guide to Google Chrome extensions .
The importance of Ad Blockers is so recognized that some VPN providers implement them directly into their apps. In fact, Surfshark and NordVPN , two of the best ever, have integrated CleanWeb and CyberSec into their VPN clients , two online security “mini-suites”, which block advertising and malware .
Another tip to protect your privacy is to use a more “discreet” Google search engine, such as DuckDuckGo , which not only doesn’t save your search history, but it doesn’t even send your current search information to sites that visit from the results.
2. Avoid suspicious sites and downloads
Visiting “shady” or suspicious sites and downloading files from them is the simplest and most direct way to find your computer infested with malware, viruses and other nice unwanted guests.
In this sense, the first sites to avoid are those that offer free downloads of material usually protected by copyright. I know, downloading movies, programs and video games for free is tempting, but what do you think those who put them online gain? Do you think they do it just for the glory?
The same goes for those who promise you usually paid content at a tiny fraction of the original price. Only in that case, in addition to infecting your computer (or your site, or your device in general), you will also have paid to do it!
3. Use a password management system
Password management systems, or password managers, can significantly help protect you from account breaches.
Password managers, like Dashlane , let you store all of your account passwords in one place , syncing them across all your devices . By doing so, you will get several benefits, namely:
More secure strong passwords
Password managers offer an automatic generation of strong passwords . So when you sign up for a new site, just tap into your carrier’s generator, which will create strong credentials and automatically store them. Subsequently, the password manager will automatically fill in the login fields, so you practically don’t even need to know what your credentials are!
With Dashlane (indeed, the best password manager on the market), you can say goodbye to passwords like “ password “, “ 123456 “, “ 000000 “, birthdays and so on.
PS If your passwords fall into one of the types I mentioned above, run and install Dashlane NOW !
Always use different passwords
The average user uses the same password for about 14 different sites . This means that, in the event even just one of these sites is hacked, whoever has your password will be able to access a large part of your life.
For this the passwords must always be different. Again, a password manager, with the already mentioned strong password generator, can help you achieve greater online security. By using Dashlane to generate new passwords for each site, which are otherwise complex, not only can you rest assured that it is unlikely that anyone will be able to access your account, but even if they were, they certainly will not have enough information to access all the other sites and services you use .
4. Beware of phishing scams
Phishing scams are among the most common computer threats, and for a very good reason: they work. Phishing victims number in the millions every year and these scams continue to increase by the day. Here’s how a standard phishing scam works:
- You receive an email or SMS from your bank informing you that your account has been blocked for security reasons or due to missing information.
- The message in question informs you that you can solve the problem by accessing a web page, to confirm your identity and provide the necessary information. In the message itself, you will find a link to the page in question.
- At this point, by clicking on the link, you will be taken to the page, which reproduces the original site more or less faithfully, where you can access by entering your credentials.
Defend against phishing attempts is relatively simple. The most important thing is to always be very careful about who sent the message, the quality of the text and therefore the various addresses involved, both the sender’s email and the site to which we are directed. Usually you will find small errors, such as an “I” (capital i) instead of an “l” (lowercase l), an “r” instead of an “n”, and so on. On Stolas Informatica we always try to examine and write about all the most common phishing attempts, but in reality there are thousands, if not millions.
Again, a password manager like Dashlane can help you with the autocomplete feature of login forms . If you go to a site where you have an account and the password manager doesn’t try to log you in or enter your credentials, it’s most likely a clone and not the original site.
5. One VPN first
As I mentioned in the first of my internet safety tips, VPNs can improve your online anonymity and protect you from cyber attacks. Here because:
VPNs hide your original IP address
The IP address is a unique numerical code linked to the network with which you access the Internet. All of your online activity can be traced back to your IP address by third parties (like your internet provider, or data-monitoring apps).
When browsing the internet through a VPN, all your data will first pass through a VPN server. The sites you visit will then only see the IP address of the server and not your original IP, so your activity cannot be traced back to you easily.
VPNs encrypt all of your data
When you visit sites and online services, or use apps on the Internet, data is exchanged bilaterally.
Your device sends requests to a server on the internet, which receives them, processes them and responds, sending data in response. In some cases, hackers or third parties can get in the way, intercepting this traffic, thus obtaining your personal information.
However, by using a VPN, all of your online traffic will be encrypted, as this technology encrypts it with military-grade algorithms. So hackers and other third parties (like your internet provider), won’t even be able to see which sites you go to!
If you want to know more, find out how VPNs work .
6. One antivirus
There should be no need to tell you that an antivirus can protect you from computer attacks and viruses. But I’ll tell you the same.
In 2023, there are tons of potential online threats:
- Ransomware : This type of malware encrypts all data and files on your device, then asks you to pay a ransom to decrypt them. Once attached to a ransomware, unfortunately it is very difficult to get out without paying.
- Backdoor : Backdoor viruses exploit vulnerabilities in your device to “break the door” and allow hackers to enter your computer. Once inside, the criminals will be able to take all the useful information, such as passwords, tax information and even exploit its computing power for their own ends.
- Keyloggers : Keyloggers record the keystrokes you press on your keyboard. This means that when you enter a password, the virus records it and sends it to the hacker who infected your computer.
- Trojan : Trojans are now a classic, much more widespread than you might think. In essence, these are files that appear safe and legitimate, but are actually infected with viruses.
These are just some of the most common types of malware and it is clear how using a reliable antivirus can help you. For this, I advise you to immediately improve your online security (and in this case also offline) with one of the best antiviruses of 2023: Norton 360 .
Make sure your antivirus is always up to date and use heuristic detection
Once you have purchased and installed your antivirus, remember to always update it. There are new viruses every day, actually practically every hour now. That’s why Norton 360 also offers heuristic threat detection .
Usually, antiviruses recognize threats thanks to a database of “definitions”, i.e. if a file matches an entry in the database, it is recognized as a virus and blocked. But what if a virus is new and hasn’t entered the database yet? Heuristic detection analyzes the behavior of code . So if that behavior is deemed harmful, the antivirus can block it, even if it doesn’t find the definition in its database.
That said, always updating your antivirus “signatures” is a huge factor in improving your online safety and that of all users of a device.
7. Back up your data
If you want to make sure the data on your computer is safe , make backup copies.
Between hard drive damage, ransomware and even simple operating system malfunctions, losing your most important documents, pictures and files is really easy. For this you should always back up the things you care about most, uploading them to the cloud with services such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or to external hard drives (possibly even several hard drives at the same time).
8. Always be careful when using public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is certainly very convenient, especially when you’re abroad and you can’t count on your operator’s data network. But the public hotspots of bars, restaurants, airports and so on have a problem: they are very dangerous.
Public wireless networks are not secure at all . Since they are accessible without passwords or other security measures, anyone can connect to them, even malicious people, who then exploit infrastructure vulnerabilities to steal your information. Here are a couple of fairly common scenarios regarding public Wi-Fi risks:
- “Man-in-the-Middle” Attack . If your wireless network isn’t secure enough, hackers could intercept your connection and spy on your internet activity. So, if your connection to the network is not encrypted, the criminal could steal your login credentials to various accounts, even your credit card information if you make a purchase while connected.
- Fake wifi . Hackers can create a fake Wi-Fi signal from their computer, deceptively renaming it so that it looks like the public wireless of the place where you are. By connecting to these networks, hackers can intercept all your data, or redirect you to fake sites via fake DNS.
Here are some things you can do to improve your online security when using public Wi-Fi networks:
- Use a VPN . VPNs encrypt all of your outgoing and incoming traffic. In doing so, if someone were to spy on your communications, they would still only find a flow of unreadable data, without being able to read its contents.
- Check if the Wi-Fi is authentic . Ask the venue staff if the wireless network in question is legitimate.
- Avoid using sites and services with important information , such as online banking or eCommerce where you would have to submit payment information to make purchases.
9. Secure your home network
Even at home, if your wireless network is public, with no password or other protection, you’re still at risk of being hacked. So, here are some tips to improve the security of your home Wi-Fi network:
- Change the default credentials to access the router . Most routers have standard credentials, such as ‘admin’ and ‘password’, making them incredibly vulnerable should an attacker gain access to your home network.
- Turn on wireless network security . By doing so, the data transmitted via the wireless network will be encrypted and cannot be intercepted.
- Use a strong Wi-Fi password . Also, even if it’s already complex by default, change it. Some router passwords, especially those included in the internet offers of the various telephone operators, are generated using predefined algorithms. In some cases, in fact, using the alphanumeric code of the standard connection name (change that too) it is possible to find the wireless network password easily.
- Use a router-level VPN . VPNs can also be installed on your router , protecting the connection of all home devices, not just yours or those of your family, but also various smart home products, which are more vulnerable than smartphones and computers, being always online.
10. Only browse HTTPS sites
HTTPS is the secure version of the HyperText Transfer Protocol . This means that when you visit HTTPS sites, you can be relatively safe about their security. But HTTPS becomes even more important for eCommerce, as sending credentials and other payment information unprotected is incredibly dangerous.
Also, DNS requests, which are made every time you go to a website, are usually in HTTP, so they’re easier to intercept. By configuring CloudFlare’s DNS instead, you will be able to perform DNS requests over HTTPS, significantly improving online security.
11. Beware of scams on social networks
Social networks are full of fake profiles created for spam scams and pyramid schemes.
If you should be contacted by strangers to buy something or if you should see such posts, make sure that the profile is authentic, as well as the final product, looking for reviews, public interactions with other users and as much information as possible.
If you see the same content posted by multiple users or by the same user multiple times, with no interaction or following, don’t trust it and move on. As cynical as it sounds, always remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t, especially online.
12. Teach your children to be careful online
Children are increasingly at risk on the internet. This is why it is important to educate them right away to a greater awareness of online dangers, encouraging them to ask questions, informing you in case they come across something strange or particular.
Here are some of the most important tips to improve your children’s internet safety:
- Never give out personal information online, such as your name, address, and phone number.
- Never tell your passwords, except to trusted adults.
- Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable with if your family saw it.
- Do not open messages sent by strangers.
- Don’t talk to strangers on the internet.
- Do not download or install files without permission.
- Always confide in a trusted adult if you find something scary online.
13. Use a parental control app
To make sure your child follows these internet safety tips, you can also install a parental control app.
Usually this kind of apps allow you to:
- Check your child’s online activity.
- Block images and other types of media on search engines.
- Block suspicious or unsafe apps and sites.
Fortunately, to find a good parental control application it is not necessary to search too much, as more and more commercial antiviruses are implementing these tools. Norton 360 for example includes one of the most complete set of parental controls on the market, read the full review to find out how many there are and how they work!
14. Never give your passwords to anyone
This is also one of the internet safety tips for kids, but it applies easily to adults. You should never share your password online with anyone, even if they claim to be staff at a particular site, app, or program that you use.
The official administrators of the services you use can manage your accounts without having to ask you for login credentials.
If someone asks for your account credentials, it is probably a phishing scam and they are trying to access your account with very bad intentions.
15. Never give out personal information
Again, this isn’t just kid-friendly advice. There are many victims of online scams who trust strangers, voluntarily giving away their personal information, with terrible results.
15 tips for your online safety – Conclusions
As you may have understood, protecting your online life, starting with a greater awareness of your online habits, is really important. By following these online safety tips, you’ll be able to defend yourself against cyberattacks, prevent your computer from being infected with malware and viruses, such as ransomware, and recognize phishing scams right away, and carefully avoid them.
Overall, the tools to achieve better security on the internet are many. However, the most important ones to always have on hand, on your computer or smartphone are:
- Antivirus : to make sure that malware and viruses cannot affect your computer.
- VPN : to protect your internet connection and all the data you send and receive every day from malicious people and prying eyes.
- Password manager : so you can have complex and different passwords on all the sites and services you use, without having to remember a thousand or that all your accounts are compromised with a single violation.