From communication to entertainment, jobs, and daily tasks, we depend a lot on the internet. The internet is almost as important as food and shelter nowadays. But have you ever thought about web security and whether you are using the Internet securely?
While you are using the internet for entertainment, communication, and work, there are those using the internet for malicious purposes. This set of people wants to steal your private data mostly for financial gain. And this makes online security very important.
Everybody is a potential target. So, you have to be aware of the nature of potential threats that come with using the internet. This allows you to take proper precautions to avoid being a victim of a cyberattack.
Potential Threats to Your Online Security
Below are potential threats that may come your way when using the internet:
Malicious links are created by fraudsters or hackers to steal your private information. Clicking on such links can download malware onto your computer. Sometimes, malicious links will take you to a fake website and persuade you to provide sensitive information such as your bank information, Social Security Number, and so on.
You are more likely to encounter malicious links in phishing emails. Phishing is a type of cybercrime/cyberattack where the scammers impersonate trusted organizations and people and contact potential victims by mail, text message, or even over the phone. The aim remains the same – to steal your sensitive information.
Websites can sometimes become compromised – due to a focus attack or security negligence – without the owners even noticing. Most times, it is the customers that will first notice that the site is compromised.
Tell-tale signs of a compromised website include unwanted downloads, strange behavior on a trusted or legitimate website, warning from security tools, and no SSL Certificate (more on this below). If you see any of these signs, leave the website asap.
The length that scammers will go to for financial gain. Fake websites are another weapon used by fraudsters to steal sensitive information. They buy a domain name that’s similar to that of a legitimate website. Sometimes, the anchor text is made to look legitimate while the URL takes you to a fake website or downloads malware on your system. Always double check the spelling of websites you intend to visit to ensure you don’t visit a fake website.
Simple Ways to Improve Your Online Safety
To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Since you know there are potential threats to your online security when browsing the internet, it makes sense to take steps to secure your online safety. Below are simple ways you can improve your online safety:
1) Update Your Web Browser
First of all, you should use trusted web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Opera, Safari, and so on. These browsers are known for their speed, privacy, and customizations. But it’s not enough to have a good web browser, you need to make sure to install the latest updates.
Cybercriminals don’t lack creativity and are always looking for new ways to carry out their malicious deeds. And updating your browser means you have the latest security measures to block cyberattacks.
2) Use a good VPN
VPNs are becoming more popular as more people become aware of the importance of online safety. If you are familiar with VPNs, you’ll know they protect your data through high-level encryption and by rerouting your internet traffic through their servers. This prevents an external party from having access to your data.
You also get a lot more from VPNs than just online security. There are other useful features such as accessing location-based content, improving internet speed, and gaming speed, and defeating oppressive government censorship. You can read about VPN here.
3) Only Visit Websites with HTTPS
HTTPS is a protocol for computers that are encrypted using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Websites with HTTPS protocol are safe. Even if hackers access information from such websites, they won’t be able to read it. For this reason, avoid websites without HTTPS. Your browser, if you are using a good one, by the way, will inform you when you are about to access a website without HTTPS. That aside, HTTPS encrypted websites have a lock sign just before the URL in the address bar which signifies a secure connection.
Other tips include:
- Be careful about files and applications you download as they may be infected with malware. To be safe, install a trusted antivirus program.
- Use strong passwords and two-factor authorization.
- Be cautious about posting your email address online.
- Be careful when using public wifi. Most of them have weak or no encryption.
Online safety is more important than many people realize. You don’t want to be a victim of a cyberattack to be your wake-up to take your online safety more seriously. Follow the simple steps above and you should be fine.