The 7 Habits of Highly Secure Internet Use

Chris

By Chris

06 February 2012

On the heels of Data Privacy Day, an internationally known day that marks the importance of ensuring our personal information is protected online, we thought: Why not share SurfEasy’s top tips for highly secure Internet use?

Yes, some may seem pretty simple, but you would be amazed how many people don’t do the obvious.

1.      Use passwords with superhero strength 

We could write a whole article about this, because the fact is there is a huge range of ways to keep your passwords secure.

That said, there are a few key elements to always keep in mind:

  • Use different passwords across your accounts.
  • Use a mixture of numbers, and both upper- and lower-case characters.
  • Don’t be obvious with your word selection, and if you want to be really good, don’t choose a word at all.
  • Change your password twice year, at the very least.
  • Never share your password with anyone.

If you already have these elements in place, you’re well on your way to a strong password.

2.      Ask yourself: Is your Internet connection secure?

Many Internet connections are not secure, especially if they’re Wi-Fi connections. In fact, often people don’t realize that public Wi-Fi – such as the connections offered in coffee shops, airports and hotels – are often very risky places do important things like e-mail, banking, and social networking. In today’s world of multiple devices, it is important to trust the network you’re connecting to – whether you’re using a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or a public computer.

So how do you do it?

  • Be sure public networks are secured using WPA or WPA2 protocol, and remember that a password login is not an indication of encryption. Often, the password is simply used to pass the pay wall or provide data to the network host.
  • The same goes for at home. You must take extra steps to ensure home and office wireless routers are set to WPA or WPA2 encryption protocols, because often wireless routers are shipped with this feature turned off.

If in doubt, it’s always best to use a personal Internet encryption solution whenever possible.

3.      Stay updated, stay protected         

Those pesky pop-ups reminding you to update your software, browser or operating system can be a pain, but it is very important that you heed their warnings as soon as new service packs become available. These updates usually take little to no effort to install and often contain important security upgrades that will reduce how vulnerable you are to malicious activity.

In that same vein, always ensure you have trusted anti-virus software to protect you from malware and other viruses.

 4.      Have a critical eye

Always be mindful of how you surf and who you’re communicating with.

  • Be skeptical of e-mails offering you things that are too good to be true – even if it looks like it is coming from a friend, family member or co-worker.
  • Remember that no one has any reason to ask you for your password or money, especially when contacting you via e-mail or social media.

 5.      Surf with caution

Continue to keep that critical eye when you come across strange or unidentified links. To protect yourself against cybercriminals who could be phishing for your personal information, resist the urge to click on anything that that seems fishy if.

The same goes for pasting unfamiliar text into your address bar.

6.       Use HTTPS whenever you can

Websites that have https:// before the web address are adding an extra layer of security by encrypting your browsing. It is best to use https:// whenever possible. Most important, never send bank info, credit card numbers, confidential e-mails, or other sensitive data unless you’re sure you’re on a secure site.

The best way to check if you’re on a secure site? Check the URL in the address bar for the https:// and then look for the lock icon in the bottom-right corner of your browser_._

 7.       Shared computers: Use carefully!

Attention to detail is key when using shared computers at work or in public spaces because many websites leave you automatically logged in after you close the browser. While some of us find that to be very convenient on our home computers, it’s not always safe: What happens if someone launches your browser and has access to all of your e-mail, contacts and social media activity?

Leaving your personal account open puts you at risk for others to access and use your information. So, no matter what, always be sure to log out of accounts, and clear the browsing history, cookies and cache before leaving the public computer. This also isn’t a bad habit to consider for things like work and smartphones and laptops – because you just never know what could happen.

If you integrate these seven simple tips into your everyday you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re surfing safely.

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