8 Ways To Be Safe On The Internet

*sees that his last post was exactly four months ago*

Oops…my bad lol

I’m back again and today we’re talking internet safety. If you’re reading this, obviously you’re using the internet. We talk about controversial topics on social media (Captain America 2016!!!), watch videos on YouTube, buy clothes and electronics on Amazon, and conduct online banking. However, the open nature of the Internet makes it one of the most dangerous networks so I’m here to give you 8 tips to stay safe on the “innernet”. I have to confess that these 8 tips aren’t exclusively mine. They come from a cybersecurity course I took. Hopefully you will follow these tips and please stay safe!

  1. Never enter personal information that has no lock symbol before/after the URL or you may be giving your username/password to an attacker who can hijack your password
    • The lock indicates that your browser has verified that the website you’re visiting is what it claims to be. Be sure to check the URL to make sure it is the one you intended to visit.
    • There is a Chrome (and probably Firefox) extension that I personally use called HTTPS Everywhere. It forces the website to use a secure connection if available.
  2. For every online account you own, use a password you’ve used nowhere else. Trust me I know how hard this is, even I get lazy and reuse passwords sometimes.
    • That way, an attacker is limited only to the one account if they do get your password.
    • For each account, ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen if an attacker gets my password?”
    • Use 2 factor authentication if it is offered (Microsoft, Apple, and Google all have 2 factor authentication)
    • There are Chrome/Firefox extensions and apps that can manage your passwords such as 1Password and LastPass. If you’re an Apple person who uses Safari, you can let Safari suggest a password and it will keep it safe using iCloud Keychain.
  3. Never fall for the “You must update your video player to view this video”. Otherwise you may install a credential-stealing keylogger (Google “Zbot”) on your computer or get all your personal files encrypted and held for ransom (also called “ransomware”).
  4. Never click on email attachments unless you first contact the sender.
    • This can lead to downloading malware that does the aforementioned encrypt/ransom thing.
    • Also, you could be susceptible to phishing attacks in which an attacker redirects you to a website that looks legitimate (Facebook or banking website) and trick you into inputting your username and password.
  5. Beware Adobe Flash, Java, and Internet Explorer
    • Due to their popularity, attackers exploit these programs most often.
    • If you have to use them, make sure they are up to date with the latest patches.
    • Consider using Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. There are extensions that allow you to block Flash and Java unless you explicitly allow it to.
  6. Android users!! Make sure you ONLY download Android apps from the Google Play (or Amazon) store! There are also anti-malware apps for Android.
  7. Consider using Apple products (iPhones/iPads).
    1. Hopefully, this doesn’t start a fanboy war but iOS devices tend to be much more secure than Android. Macs are less vulnerable than Windows but the rising popularity of Macs are starting to make attackers pay attention to them more.
    2. Both Apple themselves and the FBI claim they cannot decrypt a powered-down encrypted iOS device. To encrypt your iPhone/iPad, simply put a password/passcode on it. iOS devices automatically encrypt the entire device once you put on a password. For those with iPhone 5S on up, use Touch ID for even more device security.
  8. If you want privacy, use VPNs and end-to-end encryption apps.
    1. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) create encrypted connections that help conceal your data as it transits the Internet and untrusted networks like open Wi-Fi networks (Starbucks, Panera Bread..etc). There are some good paid VPNs out there like Private Internet Access (PIA) and ExpressVPN. There are also free VPN apps like Betternet.
    2. If you want privacy AND anonymity, consider using a service like Tor which basically makes it seem like you’re coming from somewhere else other than your real location.

These are just a few tips to help keep you safe on the interwebs. Have fun but be smart and don’t click on everything!

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