Browsing the internet feels like second nature to most people nowadays. Often, we are lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that hacks only happen to other people, or the way that you browse the internet means you are safe; many people aren’t even aware that hackers and cyber criminals are so prevalent on the internet. Any IT Support Company will be able to tell you about the risks of browsing the internet – for instance, TechQuarters, a London-based company, gave us their list of top 10 rules for safe internet usage. These may seem like basic rules, but they are worth being reminded of, and some people don’t bother following these rules at all.
Limit Personal Information
Since the spread of social media, people have gotten more and more comfortable with sharing personal information online. However, you should be very careful what sort of information you share over the internet – social media sites like Facebook encourage you to list your home town, where you live currently, where you went to school or university, and it even lets you tag your location on individual posts. Theoretically, people could find out where you are in real time, and go and find you. Of course, this does not happen often, but it is a good example of the risks of sharing personal information online. It is best practice to keep your information as private as possible online.
Keep Privacy Settings On
Privacy settings are very common on all forms of technology, but people rarely take them seriously, or see them as a nuisance and therefore don’t bother with them. Most mobile phones and computers have privacy settings built into them. Additionally, web browsers also have privacy options available. Social media sites like Facebook also have their own privacy settings. TechQuarters, as an IT managed services London company, recommend enabling privacy settings on all platforms setup – although often companies want to be able to access your data, so they make these privacy settings hard to find on their platform. Unfortunately, personal information is highly valuable for marketing, but its also valuable for cyber criminals – so one should always take the effort to find and turn on privacy settings.
Practice Safe Browsing
Safe browsing is a fairly simple practice. Essentially, it just means don’t visit dangerous websites online; and it is fairly easy to identify a dangerous website or link, once you know what to look for. Cyber criminals know that people are unconsciously attracted to eye-catching content – this could be brightly coloured ads or interesting looking images; it could be links that use sensational language to pique your interest. Generally speaking, if you don’t recognise the content, but it looks like it is designed to attract your attention, it is probably suspicious or malicious in nature. Try not to click on any link, ad, or any other content that you don’t recognise.
Only Use Secure Internet Networks
There is an abundance of unsecured networks out there. Most people do not hesitate to connect to a shop or restaurant’s Wi-Fi – they are just interested in getting free internet. But these types of public, unsecured networks can be dangerous. If you can connect to it without a password, so can a hacker; and hackers are capable of stealing your data while it is in-transit – this means while the data is being sent from one place to another, such as from your phone, over a public network, and onto your friends phone. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution, and wait until you can connect to a safe network.
Another good options is to use a virtual private network (VPN) – this technology helps add a layer of protection while you are connected to public Wi-Fi.
Be careful with downloads
One of the main goals of cyber criminals is to get you to download something. Once you have downloaded a virus, or malware, the cyber criminal will have full access to your data. There are many ways in which criminals get people to download malware – they can disguise it as an app, a picture, or a document; virtually any form of downloadable content can be made to hide viruses or malicious code.
The only time you should download content is if you are downloading it from a legitimate website. Always check a website before you download something from it. Hackers may also pretend to be personal contacts, and ask you to download something – always verify with a personal contact whether it is really them asking you to download something.
Use strong passwords
Using strong passwords for your accounts should be a given, many Outsourced IT Support London Providers make sure their clients all have top encryption on their devices. Yet it is quite surprising how many people still use very simple passwords, like “12345678”, or “continue”. Hackers are very good at guessing passwords, because users are generally very predictable with the types of passwords they choose – their favourite TV show or sports team, or their hometown (this is another reason why it is important to limit personal info; the more a hacker knows about you, the more accurately they can guess your passwords).
Sometimes, cyber criminals don’t even need to know about you to guess your passwords – instead, they use brute-force attacks; this is a type of attack where they use software to guess thousands of password combinations a minute. With this approach, passwords can be cracked in under a second in some scenarios.
It is important, then, to be use strong passwords with high entropy. Password entropy refers to the time it would take a machine to guess a combination. The higher the entropy is, the harder it will be to crack the password.
Don’t Re-use Passwords
Some people feel like they can’t remember multiple passwords, so they reuse them for multiple accounts. If a hacker finds out that password, you will have given them access to all of your accounts. Always use unique passwords for each account. It is true that remembering lots of strong passwords is difficult – many people choose to use a password manager, which remember their passwords for them, and can even fill the passwords into webpages.