The Internet provides an incomprehensible amount of websites and information. Although navigating the World Wide Web is relatively simple, there are many complicated threats out there waiting to be clicked on. But how do you know which links are legitimate or which ones contain paid advertisements or worse, malicious content?
Here are the 10 Dos and Don’ts of Browsing the Internet:
- Use anti-virus software and make sure to renew regularly. It is also important to consider an email filter to keep suspicious emails from coming to your inbox.
- Choose strong passwords. People tend to choose passwords that are easy to remember and then use the same password for multiple accounts. Create passwords that are unique and complex- a mixture of upper and lowercase letters and numbers, at least 10 characters long.
- Keep personal information limited. Both marketers and hackers are looking for information about you based on your browsing history and social networks. Stick to the basics- your professional experience and name but leave out travel plans, addresses, social security numbers, email address, etc.
- Stay away from shady websites and “click bait”. “Click bait” is the term used for an online advertisement that has lurid content or text that’s meant to grab attention, and be clicked. These websites often have malicious content that can put your computer at risk.
- Make sure your Internet connection is secure. A secure connection should show https:// before the URL. Also, avoid public wifi at places like coffee shops or airports where the connection is not secure.
- Don’t let web browsers remember your username and password. Doing this could leave you more vulnerable to being hacked.
- Don’t click on any email you don’t recognize. Even if you do recognize the sender’s email address and see the email contains a link or attachment, call the sender. Verify the email was actually sent by the organization or individual since email addresses can be spoofed or an email account hacked.
- Don’t give anyone remote access to your computer. There are many scams online that may seem like legitimate warnings, but are instead criminals impersonating technicians from major companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Dell, or even Geek Squad. If someone contacts you via phone or you call a number and they say they need remote access to your machine- hang up and call us!
- Don’t click on the first search result in Google. “Googling” a subject can bring back many search results, including paid advertisements that may have nothing to do with what you searched, or worse, a fake advertisement that could lead you to a malicious website. Try to avoid the green advertisements at the top of the page and scroll down to find familiar, trusted websites.
- Don’t download illicit or unknown software. While you may be tempted to download the “free” version of software, which is commonly pirated, don’t! Downloading this kind of software from shady or spoofed websites can put your computer and data at risk of infection from a virus or even ransomware. Secondly, a business that has illicit software running on any of its computer is at risk for fines. If a website asks you to download or upgrade software to view the content, be cautious. It could be legitimate, but most of the time it’s a trick to get you to download malware.