We live in an online world. No matter how we may feel about it, the internet is an integral part of how each of us get from one day to the next. Most of the time, this is extremely useful, convenient, and safe both for us and the people and organizations we regularly deal with.
How can you stay safe online?
Here are a few helpful tips to make sure your interactions online stay safe:
Create Strong Passwords. For online accounts, you should create unique passwords that contain upper and lower-case letter, numbers, and special characters (if possible). You also need to make sure all your electronic devices are password protected – your desktop computer, laptop, smart phone, tablet – these need to be locked with a password or PIN.
Take Care What You Share. While there may be an option to “delete,” there is no sure way to remove posts that have been made online because anyone can take a screenshot or make a copy before you delete it. So, don’t post anything online you wouldn’t want family, friends, or potential employers to see. Don’t post any personal information. Not even your birth date.
Think Before You Open that Email. When an email creates a sense of urgency or pushes you to action online from a source you have not recently interacted with, it is most likely a scam. Remember, scammers and hackers will make it look like the email is coming from a trusted source. If you get an odd email from a friend, email them directly in a new message or give them a call to see if they recently messaged you. When in doubt, throw it out!
Make Online Purchases from Secure Sites You Trust. When it comes to shopping, it’s human nature to want to get the best deal. That rings even more true online, but if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Check independent reviews when you’re thinking of buying from an online retailer you’re unfamiliar with. If you aren’t sure, it’s better to spend a little more and buy from a retailer you know you can trust.
Use Security Software and keep it up-to-date! Install anti-virus and anti-malware software from a trusted source and keep it up-to-date. Update all your software regularly to prevent infections that make their way into your computer through unpatched software. It’s worth the time and effort to prevent fraud and further frustration in the future.
Make Full use of Support. There are many trusted sources of support available – computer savvy family or friends, small or local tech businesses who provide computer and smart device training, or your local library may have free training programs available. So, make sure you take full advantage of these and other resources available to you.
What will you do?
This advice and more is readily available to help you stay safe online. The question is, do you follow it? Be honest. Maybe you do a few of the things you know you should, but let’s face it, it’s easy get complacent, to place our trust in the companies we give our personal information to or the security software we’ve installed and leave it at that. That’s not enough.
To prevent breaches of personal information, financial fraud, or identity theft, you must be proactive always. It’s like so many other things in life that are worth doing, once you’ve made it a habit, it becomes second-nature.
See if you can spot an online scam by taking this Quiz. It’s primarily for older adults, but the content of the quiz itself is super useful for any age.