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SoftwareMedia Blog | August 22, 2014

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7 Simple Online Safety Tips

7 Simple Online Safety Tips

Up until the moment that your security is breached and someone gains access to your personal information, everything seems fine. Once the damage is done though, undoing it is no easy feat. It definitely pays to be conscientious about online safety. That’s not to say that you have to live in fear, it just means that a few basic precautions are in order. Seven simple tips for maintaining online safety are highlighted below.

1. Use Different Passwords for All of Your Accounts - This is a tall order. With so many online accounts, remembering them all can be a hassle. At the very least, you should make sure to use unique passwords for things like online bank accounts, online credit cards and other especially sensitive accounts. If your password falls into the wrong hands and you use the same one for all of your accounts, you’ll be handing over the keys to your online identity and security.

2. Don’t Click on Links in Emails - Here’s another example of something that seems inconvenient but could help you avoid serious trouble. Even if an email appears to be legitimate, you should manually enter the URL for any links that are included in it. At the very least, hover over a link to see where it actually goes. In most browsers, the real URL will appear near the bottom of the screen. It’s easy for hackers to generate emails that include misleading links. If you click on such a link, you could unwittingly hand over personal info like your username and password for your online bank account.

3. Lock Down Your Social Networking Profiles - Sure, sites like Facebook are designed to keep people connected. However, they also make hackers’ lives easier by making personal information public. Check your social networking profile security settings. If someone looks you up on a site like Facebook, what do they see? If your profile is completely public, you’re asking for trouble. Facebook has a tool that lets you see how the public views your profile. Use it and make changes as necessary to ensure that your privacy is maintained.

4. Check a Site’s Security Before Providing Sensitive Information - Ordering goods online is fast and easy. Don’t take your privacy and security for granted though. Prior to transmitting sensitive information like credit card numbers or bank account numbers, glance up at the address bar at the top of your browser. Does the URL start with “https” or not? If not, your information isn’t going to be transmitted securely, so you should cancel out of the transaction.

5. Always Use a Solid Anti-Virus Program - One of the best ways to avoid viruses and other issues is by using a trusted anti-virus program. There’s more to it than that, however. You need to keep your software up to date. New viruses are developed all the time. Anti-virus programs store information about these viruses as definitions. The best programs will prompt you to update your software when new definitions are available. Don’t ignore such requests. You should also set up your software to run full scans regularly. If you’d rather do it manually, set up a reminder for yourself. Without running regular scans, you might as well not even have an anti-virus program.

6. Be Careful with Security Questions - As an added layer of security, many sites ask you to provide answers to security questions. When you initially set up an online account, you may be asked to provide answers to security questions. Ostensibly, these are answers that you and you alone will know. However, some sites ask questions that are easy for others to figure out, so they are basically useless. For example, many sites ask for your mother’s maiden name. How private is that information? For the sake of security, you might want to spell it slightly differently. Also, questions that ask for things like your favorite band may not be too secure. If you post about your favorite band regularly online, it won’t take much for someone to figure it out.

7. Don’t Broadcast Your Contact Information Online - Even if you feel like you are posting in a safe, secure place, resist the urge to post things like your address, phone number or email address online. If someone you trust asks for this information, send it to them in a private message instead. The last thing you need is for your contact information to be floating around out in the World Wide Web.

Online safety revolves around being practical. By understanding and being aware of the risks, you can enjoy the Internet while protecting your safety, privacy and security.

By Philip J Reed on behalf of Exede high speed satellite internet.

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