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How to keep your data safe while surfing the web

Luana PASCU

June 14, 2017

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How to keep your data safe while surfing the web

Although packet switched networks were under research as early as the 1960s, only in the late 80s was the Internet released to the public for business activities. The internet has since grown from half a million email users in 1990, to a system connecting networks all over the world. It is now used for research, retail, payments, movie and music streaming and nearly anything else.

The internet is the world”s top source of information and communication. However its growth has also unleashed a world of hackers, generated the dark web and facilitated numerous cyberattacks on itself, governments, enterprises and private consumers.

Cybersecurity has become so important that even governments and law enforcement are looking into becoming more skilled in catching cybercriminals.

In 2016, 15.4 million US users fell victim to identity fraud schemes, a 16 percent increase from the previous year. This is why, every year in June, security researchers feel compelled to remind consumers about their online responsibilities so they can all have a problem-free Internet experience. Because it”s Internet Safety Month, here”s a reminder that your online actions have consequences. Let”s talk security and go over some important tips to help you avoid falling victim to cybercrime:

  1. Stay away from weak passwords. Make sure they are strong and complex by incorporating both upper and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Keep a unique password for each account and never use the same password for multiple accounts.
  2. Web browsers are a perfect source for fraud, spyware and phishing attempts, but also for advertisers to track your activity. Make sure they are updated and that you are using the latest version. Never click on suspicious pop-ups and double check that all websites you access are https, which means they are secured through SSL/TLS encryption.
  3. Shopping online? Great! But watch out for duplicate web sites as hackers may attempt man-in-the-middle attacks to intercept your communication and steal financial data. Credit card theft and financial fraud are increasing, so be mindful when making online payments. Once again, make sure the payment is run through an encrypted https website.
  4. This bring us to another common problem: emails. Be suspicious of any emails, links and attachments sent from unknown sources or in the name of your bank, university or some Nigerian prince in distress. Don”t click on any of the links in the body, don”t download the attachment and do not wire money to the prince or give away personal information, as it could be later used for online scams.
  5. We can”t stress enough the importance of always running updates on all your software, operating system, apps, add-ons and web browsers. If you don”t, you will be vulnerable and prone to attacks.
  6. Each time you want to download an application on your computer or mobile device, double check that you are dealing with an official vendor, or you may end up with a sticky case of malware.
  7. Remember that your online behavior can”t be deleted, so it”s up to you to protect your digital footprint and be smart about the content you publish. It”s critical for you to develop some natural instincts to fight off scammers and keep your online data safe and private.
  8. How desperate are you to stay connected? In some countries, wireless services are available at cafes, restaurants, clubs and airports, while sometimes you might even find free Wi-Fi on the street. Just because it”s free, doesn”t mean it”s good for you to use, as hackers could be behind it just waiting for you to give away passwords, personal information or credit card details.

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