Aside from your standard virus protection software and using some basic judgement, here are five smart tips toward a safer internet browsing experience!
- Check Your Browser’s Privacy Settings
In your browser’s privacy settings you can toggle preferences for pop-ups, camera, microphone, and location access to name a few. Most of these are set by default, but it never hurts to double check.
- Do Not Give out Personal Information
To state the obvious, be extra cautious of sites asking for any type of personal information. Even if you are online shopping, understand you are knowingly exchanging this data through the internet, which brings up the next point…
- Check If a Site’s Connection Is Secure
One simple way is to check if a site’s connection is secure is by looking for the “s” in the address bar. Encrypted websites will be denoted by “https://” in the URL, indicating it is secured. These sites have gone through a validation process to receive a SSL Certificate. There are different SSL validation levels however, the highest being EV certification which requires a company to provide proof of business along with a few other requirements. These sites are notated with a green padlock icon in the address bar.If there is any doubt on the legitimacy of a website navigate off that page immediately. Additionally, you can look up sites to check if they are safe. Google has a page called Google Transparency Report where you can type in the URL and get an updated status on a site’s legitimacy.
- Double-Check the URL
A simple, yet effective way to fool visitors is to take common URL typos or visually similar characters to fool unaware visitors. Things such as substituting the letter O for the number 0 in Amazon for Amaz0n for example. Cyber attackers will even go a step further and create a visually similar site interface to coerce users to give up addresses, credit card numbers, and other personal information.Also check the validity of hyperlinks! Mistyped and deceptive hyperlinks are all too common, especially in emails. Hovering over hyperlinks will display the actual URL you are navigating to in the status bar at the bottom of the screen. Double-check that is the site you were expecting before clicking on that link! Hover over this link marked as example.com but directs to Google as a demonstration.
- Do Not Use the Same Password for All Your Accounts
This is especially true if you use the same username or email address associated for different sites. For most, memorizing ten different passwords of variable digits, combinations, and sequences does not come natural. Especially when you mistype your password five times and are left somewhere in between scratching your head and smashing your keyboard across your desk. Consider saving your login info in a password-protected Excel spreadsheet or looking into password management software or mobile apps to keep all your accounts in order. Even if one site is compromised, your other accounts will not be in jeopardy.
Remember, the internet can be a great resource, but it is important to browse safely. Keep these tips in mind to protect your privacy and browse smarter!