Top 6 Tips for Using the Internet

The internet is the perfect resource, allowing individuals to form connections, socialise, and join support groups. It’s a treasure-trove of information that has no limit.

However, despite its many pluses, people should never leave their guards down, as they can leave themselves vulnerable when using social media sites for example. Things like identify theft, exploitation etc., are ever present online.

However, when you use the internet correctly, it immediately becomes the perfect tool for doing a whole host of constructive things.

Below, I’ve put together 6 tips for using the internet today.

1. Passwords

If you want to ensure your safety while on the internet, then one of the most effective ways you can do that is by using passwords that are difficult to guess, while not too complex that you can’t remember it.

You should never create passwords that include personal information in them, such as a family members name, address, birthday or the like.

For a password to be strong it should include at least 7 characters (ideally 10), and use a combination of uppercase, lowercase letters, with numbers and special characters (if supported).

The strongest passwords are the randomly generated ones, however, they are almost impossible to remember.

Try to use a different password for every account that you setup, because you don’t want a hacker to gain access to all of your accounts, simply by hacking just one of them.

Remembering a password can be a fairly difficult task, depending on the password and how complex it is. However, you don’t want to make the mistake of writing the password down on paper. To get around this issue, you should instead use a password manager tool, which can be used to both, generate complex passwords and also store them, safely. You can find a ton of password manager tools nowadays, even Google has one, built into their Chrome browser.

2. Protect Your Network

After you have created your strong password, it’s very important for you to think about the security aspects of your network. The vast majority of home networks should allow you to create a password for your router. That way, not just anyone, can log into it.

This will also ensure your network is not vulnerable to outside influences. Changing the password every 6 months is another great way of enhancing your network security. Public Wi-Fi networks is another thing for you to watch out for. They are just about everywhere nowadays, but aren’t nearly as secure as you’re made to believe they are.

Every Wi-Fi network has its own SSID. It’s this identification that systems use to locate, identify and log into said networks.

If you’re in a public space, for best practice purposes, you’ll definitely want to consider using a Virtual Private Network. With these VPNs, a secure connection is established between your system and the Wi-Fi network. All data is thus encrypted, that way, in event that your data is compromised, hackers will not be able to decipher it, given its encrypted nature.

3. Bookmark Pages

Did you stumble upon an excellent site while surfing the net the other day? Having difficulty remembering its address? Yes, well, that’s why you should always bookmark sites you like. A bookmark will create a shortcut within your toolbar which you can click on to go back to those sites that most interest you.

The bookmarking process can vary, depending on the browser you’re using, but in all cases, you’ll be able to find these bookmarks at the top of the browser window. If you were using Internet Explorer, then you would have to locate the favourites menu, on Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Mozilla Firefox, they have a star symbol, right on the address bar that you can click on. Once you click on it, it’s immediately saved.

Alternatively, you could press Ctrl + D to open up the bookmark menu and create a bookmark.

Whenever you want to revisit a site (or page) simply go through your bookmarks, locate it and click on it.

4. Be Mindful of who you’re talking to

One of the main drawbacks and pluses of the internet, is people’s ability to communicate with people spread all over the world. It provides one of the more convenient ways of connecting with people, especially those that share your interests.

However, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, as there are some issues that comes with it.

As there are people who get onto the internet, solely for the purpose of taking advantage of other people. They could fake their identity, make themselves out to be someone else, in order to get information out of people or to get them to do something, specific.

You should never give a stranger on the internet your personal information. Information like, your personal bank details or where you live.

You also never want to send a stranger online a video or photo of yourself that could compromise you. As an example, an intimate picture or video of yourself. Anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable with other people seeing. If someone online is pressuring you into doing this, then report and block them.

5. Double Check before You Click

Phishing is a fairly common term, which I’m sure you’ve seen around, if you’ve been online for any real length of time. It’s basically the process of deceiving people into sending personal information to hackers. A process that can manifest itself in more than one way.

The first way is through spam emails. Which are designed to look and appear like official emails from insurance firms, banks, or subscription services. The email will naturally ask the reader to click on a link, which will take them to the forged website, where they will be requested to answer some questions.

Hackers have worked tirelessly over the years to make these emails look more and more authentic. The best approach to tackling these kinds of scams is by always visiting such sites directly. By literally typing the URL in yourself.

The second way people may fall prey to phishing scams is through ads on free items. Social engineering is one term used to describe it. The objective is to make people feel as though they have won something. These phishing scams are also sent via email, with external links to sites that contain confidential questions.

6. Update Your Antivirus

This is one task that is so often overlooked. Having a good, functioning antivirus scanner can make the difference between a healthy system and one that is filled up with viruses and corrupted data. Always monitor your internet security software, ensuring that it’s working as it should. You also want to ensure it always has the latest virus definitions installed on it.

–AUTHOR INFO— Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website

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