Let’s face the facts: computer technology has produced outstanding benefits, but it has also enabled criminals to take their illegal activities to the next level. The Internet’s ability to connect each and every consumer online is often exploited for the purpose of financial gain and other heinous activities. Cyber-bullying, Internet fraud, the rise in scams online, email phishing attacks, malware, and other threats have circulated the Internet over the past few years.
To strengthen the awareness of everyone with regards to online safety and security, June has been declared National Internet Safety Month. Identity and privacy protection are two of the most important topics discussed in this campaign. Here are some tips to ensure your safety
Security Tip 1: Know How Email Scams Work
Email scams are used to reach a large number of people with minimal effort. It’s easy for identity thieves and fraudsters to make their messages seem credible and real to the recipients. Therefore, you need to always think twice before clicking on an attachment or link in a suspicious email or replying with your credit card details. It can be tempting to take the bait of “too good to be true” offers, but before you take plunge, take some time to research and read consumer reviews to ensure the credibility of a business opportunity. Don’t just click on a link, especially if it comes from spam emails, because it is highly likely that it is a phishing scam waiting for a victim. Also, be sure not to download email attachments that came from unsolicited emails because these may contain viruses or malware that can harm your computer.
Security Tip 2: Secure Your Wireless Network
When your wireless network is unsecured, criminals can gain access to your mobile device or computer without your knowing about it. This means they can access all of the personal and financial information stored on your devices. To prevent this from happening, use encryption technology to protect your computer from intruders. Encryption technology allows you to set up a password to limit the number of users that can access your wireless network and works to protect all computers within a network from hackers and intruders. Most wireless routers have an encryption feature, so you should seriously consider turning it on. If you don’t know how, check your Internet provider’s website or contact technical support.
Even more importantly, don’t assume that public Wi-Fi networks are safe. Many hotels, airports, and cafes use public Wi-Fi networks, but most of them are unsecured. If possible, always connect to a private network or a password protected Wi-Fi hotspot before using your gadgets. These hotspots offer more protection than public wireless networks.
Security Tip 3: Don’t Over-Share
Over-sharing information is one of the easiest ways identity thieves and other criminals can steal your personal details. No matter how strong your protection is against malware, hackers, and viruses, if you don’t know how to limit the information you give out online, there’s still a chance that you will fall victim to fraudsters and thieves. As a rule of thumb, never disclose personal or financial information – especially credit card details – to strangers online unless you’re the one who initiated contact. When using social media, limit the information you share with others, especially your photos, videos, birth dates, favorite pet, and so on – this is some of the most common information thieves use to hack into your existing accounts or create fake accounts using your identity.
Security Tip 4: Protect Your Children
Children are becoming increasingly tech-savvy these days. The reality is that many kids would rather spend time on the Internet than play outdoor games and sports. As such, kids need to be informed about proper Internet safety, like appropriate online behavior, the consequences of talking to strangers, and how to handle issues of cyber-bullying. Protecting your children online can help prevent both your information and their information from being stolen.