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Ten Simple Tips for Staying Safe Online

The internet is more involved in our lives than ever before. We’re always connected – from our phones to our doorbells, it seems like almost everything we interact with is online.

It’s no secret that the internet has drastically changed and improved our lives, but no reward is without risk. Cybersecurity incidents and data breaches make the headlines more often than many of us are comfortable with.

Most of these reports focus on companies and governments who have been affected by cyber criminals. While the media has done an excellent job of presenting the risks hackers present to governments and corporations, little time is spent on what it takes for consumers to stay safe in our ever-changing digital landscape.

Although it’s vital for businesses to take steps to protect themselves and their consumers from cyberattacks, online security can – and should – be a personal practice, as well.

What is internet safety?

Internet safety consists of the steps you take to protect your information and devices while online. It is sometimes referred to as cyber hygiene or digital hygiene.

It’s important to know how to stay safe online because there are many ways that your information or privacy can be compromised. With some simple tools and common sense, staying safe online doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult.

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How can I stay safe on the internet?

There are many ways to improve your online security. Follow these ten simple tips to immediately improve your internet safety:

1. Install an antivirus software on your devices.

There are a variety of free and paid antivirus software available online, many of which can be extremely helpful. It is important to research the antivirus you wish to use before downloading to ensure it is reputable.

If you have questions, you can reach out to your internet service provider to ask for recommendations. Some internet providers offer antivirus software with their service. For example, EPB Fi-Speed Internet includes free access to McAfee® LiveSafe™ antivirus software.

2. Set your devices to automatically update.

Keep all of your devices up-to-date. It can be frustrating when your laptop restarts mid-email, but many updates on your computer and cell phone are vulnerability patches, which repair known security issues.

Setting your devices to update automatically will make sure your devices are less vulnerable to known threats.

3. Use longer passwords to keep your online accounts secure.

Ideally, passwords should be longer than 12 characters, and include a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. People tend to create passwords in the same syntax as a sentence: a capital letter at the beginning, letters in the middle, punctuation, and finally numbers.

Breaking this pattern can make your password harder to crack. Avoid repeating passwords between accounts, especially for sensitive accounts such as credit cards or bank apps.

4. Use a reputable password management system to track your passwords.

There are many good password management tools that can securely store your passwords. This will make it easier to avoid password reuse, and to keep track of longer, more secure passwords.

You should never write passwords down or repeat passwords to make it easier to remember. Instead, reputable password management software will help you create and store your passwords to keep you safe online.

5. Don’t open emails or texts from people you don’t know, and don’t click links that make you uncomfortable.

Phishing scams are when you get an email that looks legitimate but it’s actually from a scammer trying to trick you into giving up your information.

Phishing scams are getting increasingly sophisticated, so emails or phone calls may come from sources that initially look legitimate. If you receive a phone call, text, or email from a company or government institution that is asking for personal information, reach out to the company using the phone number on their website or their customer service chat to make sure that the request is actually from the company.

tips to stay safe online

6. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on your devices and accounts.

Many devices, websites, and apps allow multi-factor authentication. This means it will require you to verify your identity in more than one way when logging in, such as by entering a password and typing in a code that is sent to you via text message. Although the process for setting up MFA varies depending on the device, app, or website, it can usually be found in the settings, under “Security.”

7. Avoid using public Wi-Fi, especially when accessing sensitive information.

Public Wi-Fi is generally unsecured, which means your information may be visible to other people using the same Wi-Fi network. It is safer to use a personal hotspot or your data plan if there is no secure Wi-Fi available.

8. Ensure your Wi-Fi is password protected with a secure password.

Your home Wi-Fi network should always be secured with a password. Many routers come with a default Wi-Fi password, which should be changed when you are setting up your network.

9. Create a separate Wi-Fi network to secure your IoT devices.

If you have IoT devices in your home, such as Ring doorbells, Roombas, smart speakers, home security systems, or others, consider creating a separate Wi-Fi network specifically for these devices. And remember to use a secure password for your home Wi-Fi network.

10. Avoid posting personal information online.

Never post your home or work address online and avoid using “geo-tagging” to share your location on Instagram or other social media apps. For increased security, keep your social media accounts set to private and do not accept friend requests from people you do not know. Doing all of these things will make it less likely that your information can be accessed or compromised.

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Follow these tips to stay safe online

We use the internet more than ever before, which is why it is imperative to take steps to protect yourself online. However, it can hard to know where to start. These cyber safety tips will help you build a foundation for safer internet usage and online browsing.

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