Safe browsing seems to be a buzzword you’ve probably heard a gazillion times, but do you have a firm grasp on what it takes to keep your computer out of harm’s way? The internet, as information-packed of a goldmine it may be, is also a place of many threats that are waiting to catch you off guard. If you don’t watch your step, you could fall prey to data deletion, identity theft, and various form of malware. To stay safe, make sure you always do the following:
1. Be careful when using websites that aren’t secure
The regular HTTP protocol is fine for regular browsing; however, if you’re planning on entering any kind of sensitive login credentials into it or making purchases, HTTPS is a must. Fortunately, it’s easy to see whether the website in question uses either one or the other. Examine the top left corner of your screen where your address bar is. Modern browsers like Chrome also go one step beyond and warn you whether the website you’re visiting doesn’t have the secure HTTPS protocol implemented. The reason this is important is simple; the HTTPS protocol ensures that any data you send to or receive from it is encrypted, whereas the HTTP protocol does not. This ensures that even if someone tries to mess with it or intercept it along the way, it would be a fruitless endeavor because encrypted data cannot be accessed without the proper key.
2. Install script and popup blockers
3. Avoid connecting through an unsecured Wi-Fi
Security is often the price we pay for convenience, and such is the case whenever you connect to the internet through an unsecured Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi hotspots often present around coffee shops are notorious for this, and by browsing the internet through a connection provided by them, you open yourself up to a myriad of risks; most notably, data interception. So what can you do if you really need to check up on one of your online accounts? Either rely on your mobile operator’s connection to do it or use a VPN. That way, you will ensure that no hacker can get their hands on your sensitive data in transit. If you’re a Chrome user, installing a VPN is super easy, as there is an extension for it.
4. Change your passwords often
Rotating your passwords is an essential step toward your account security. The more important the account (online banking, social media, eCommerce websites, and so on), the more frequently you should be doing this. But no matter the length of each interval, you should immediately change your password following a data breach. This will ensure that even if someone were to try using these credentials to obtain unauthorized access to your account, they would not be successful. To be extra safe, you should also avoid re-using the same password anywhere else. If having to remember so many passwords proves to be extra demanding, consider using a password manager.
5. Only click on links you trust
Unless you’re 100% sure that the link you’re clicking on will take you where you’re intended to go (or you completely trust the one who posted it), you should refrain from clicking on it. This includes the links that get sent to you through email or messaging apps – be especially wary of these. Frequently, they will attempt to trick you into visiting a fraudulent online form that was designed for the sole purpose of stealing your login credentials, a practice otherwise known as phishing. To avoid becoming the victim, writing the address directly into the URL bar is your best bet.
These 5 tips will go a long way toward keeping you safe while browsing. As with every other aspect of cybersecurity, using your common sense and remaining vigilant is the best defense.