Nearly 36.5% of internet users believe they have faced online bullying in their lives — and this information is limited to one-on-one bullying. Almost 1001 security breach incidents were reported in the U.S. in 2020, and the cybersecurity trends for 2021 predict that the numbers will increase substantially in the coming years.
Some five years ago, a public office candidate faced a barrage of criticism after his opposing party discovered sexually explicit social media photographs and evidence of past drug usage on his online profile. Although he did get selected for office after telling his version of events, the moral to this story is that your internet behaviors have the potential to damage your job, reputation, and life.
Furthermore, your online activities might put you at risk for identity theft, financial fraud, and at times physical violence too. You might want to watch the Netflix blockbuster ‘ClickBait’ if you really want to grasp the level of abuse that these online misconducts can cause.
As a result, I have compiled a rundown of the six internet safety principles that will enable you to protect your online identity to a large extent.
1. Connect to a secure ISP
The first and easiest thing that you might want to go for is to connect with an ISP that guarantees your online protection. Many people opt for internet providers that are inexpensive while being completely oblivious that these providers do not offer any additional security features. In this context, please note that you should always value your privacy more than money and therefore, should always sign up with a secure internet provider.
Connecting to providers like Optimum internet makes sure that your data, online identity, and communication remains secure and intact at all times. Optimum also ensures the protection of your connected devices while charging a nominal fee per month.
2. Be Extremely Careful When Downloading Files
One of the main goals of cybercriminals is to deceive you into downloading malware or virus on your device to steal your personal information. You may believe that you are smart enough and would not fall for such frauds, but you should be aware that certain cybercriminals have just one goal: to disguise their harmful software in such a way that others will fall for it. So, what are your options? Do not download anything that looks suspicious or is not from a reputable source.
3. Keep Your Security and Privacy Settings Open
Accepting the T&Cs of mobile apps and websites without giving them a read is tremendously handy, but it can also be quite risky. Most sites, including WhatsApp and Facebook, exchange personal information with marketing companies, such as your inclinations, likes, and dislikes. Although this is lawful as per your contract with the said website, cybercriminals may gain access to your data.
However, I am not telling you to delete all of your online presence; rather, I would suggest users, remain cautious. There are settings in web browsers and a mobile OS that let you enable your online security.
All well-known websites (such as Facebook) have privacy-enhancing options. Such settings might be difficult to get by at times, however, if you put in the work once, you will be able to reap the benefits of privacy forever. Make sure that these privacy options are enabled on all your accounts and that they continue to be that way.
4. Be Cautious When Browsing
Cybercriminals’ techniques have evolved with the evolution of the internet. Now, they have new ways to exploit stuff in a way that appears to be quite genuine. They have perfected human psychology and that is how they come up with click-baits in order to entice users to visit their webpage.
As soon as you click any such link or attachment, cybercriminals can perform their malicious activities without you even knowing. People who have seen Michael Scott from ‘The Office’ getting scammed continuously on account to help the Nigerian princess will get a much better understanding of this.
5. Set Secure Passwords
This is by far the most basic yet frequently neglected online safety rule. Passwords are the key to accessing your accounts, so make sure you use strong and unique passwords for every website you visit.
- Do not use the same password for all of your accounts – if a hacker gains access to one account, the same password will allow them to gain access to all of your other accounts as well.
- Choose a password that is alphanumeric, strong, and difficult to guess – do not use passwords like ‘000000,’ ‘123456,’ or simply ‘password.’
- Keep a password that cannot be reverse-engineered i. e. do not use a password that can be traced back to you, such as your date of birth or pet’s name.
6. Use a Safe Internet Network
This should go without reason, but I will say it anyway: always select an internet network that ensures your online security and privacy.
Let’s build a scenario: you go for a morning run and come across a nice, pleasant coffee shop in which you want to relax for some time. It comes as no surprise that you will not sit idle while enjoying your coffee; therefore, you might connect to the free Wi-Fi offered there. Even if it appears to be an excellent environment, you should not trust it with your privacy. If you do connect with the free Wi-Fi there, be mindful that you have endangered all your social accounts, financial records, confidential data, and other files.
I understand that sometimes when we run out of our mobile data and have to be online immediately, connecting to an open Wi-Fi is the only way out, however, we should remember to employ a VPN in such desperate times.
The Ending Note
The internet is a great place that has the capability to make your life better in a lot of ways, but it can also put you at risk of getting into trouble if you are not careful. All the six points discussed above have great potential to secure your online data, presence, and communication so make sure to include them in your routine.