Tips for Staying Safe Online

With so many recent cyber attacks, staying safe online is becoming a harder and harder task. I often find myself second guessing whether or not I am truly safe from attackers. Here are some tips that will help you protect you and your family from cyber warfare.

1. Invest in Network Security
One of the worst things that can happen is if an attack gets between you and your destination. Imagine you send a letter to a friend, but before the it is delivered, an attack can read it and edit it. This is the exact problem that many people face online today. By using something called a virtual private network (VPN), you can keep your internet connection secure. When you have a VPN active, attackers will be unable to read your emails or change what you see. The only problem is that the most secure VPNs are not free. A couple bucks a month is definitely worth it to keep you and your browsing history out of the way of attackers. Private Internet Access is a company that offers a great VPN at a very affordable cost.

2. Use Different Passwords
Come on, I know you do it too. Hell, everybody does it. We all reuse the same password on multiple websites. And this is a problem. If an attacker manages to hack the mainframe of a website you visit, they can gain access to the database and learn what password you used on that site. Now imagine if you used that single password on every website. That attacker now has access to your facebook, youtube, bank account, email, and so much more. By using a unique password on every website, you can keep attackers from ruining your life. Be sure to tell your friends and family this tip so they can stay safe and fend off attackers as well.

3. Be Smart
A technique called social engineering is when an attack attempts to trick a victim into believing something false and doing something they shouldn’t be doing. For example, if someone left you a voicemail saying that they were your bank and you needed to call them back, what would you do? Most of us would just call that phone number back and tell them our bank account information. That attacker used social engineering to gain access to our bank information by pretending to be our bank! Now the question you are thinking is probably “how can I protect myself from this.”
To protect yourself from social engineering and phone scams, just follow these simple steps.

  • Don’t blindly accept what the person on the other end is telling you is a fact without concrete evidence.
  • Don’t waste your time trying to identify if a phone number belongs to a scammer. Instead use a phone number reputation website like Glasscaller to see what people in your community have experienced with a phone number.
  • Always take a few moments think before you reveal any identifying information through the phone.
  • Take the step to initiate the phone call instead of letting someone call you. Attackers can spoof their phone number and make it appear on caller id that they calling from a phone number they do not control.

4. Use privacy settings
All of the major social networks allow you to select who can see and comment on your profile. It may not be in your best interest if anyone can access the information you post online. If an attacked knows you are going on vacation for a week, they may come and break into your home and steal from you when you are not away.
Privacy settings can be a great way to keep your private life private. There is no reason your employer needs to know how much you love that hot new bikini you just purchased.

And last of all please remember that just because something awful happens online doesn’t mean your life is ruined. Take a break from the internet to relax and keep a clear mind. Too much time online is not healthy.

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