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A Guide To Protecting Yourself Online

The internet is a great tool, and there are few people out there who can confess that they don’t use it for some reason or another, on a daily basis. Whether you use it for work purposes, or you enjoy the world of social media, if you’re not online you can feel totally out of the loop, which has caused many people to jump on the bandwagon. However, for all of its positive sides, the internet can be a dark place, and you do have to be careful when it comes to what you’re sharing, who you’re sharing it with, and what sites you’re visiting. We’ve put together some simple tips, to keep you safe.

Don’t share your personal data

Whatever you do online – whether you’re a blogger, or you’re just using social media – it can be tempting to share pieces of information about yourself with others. Not only does this help you to create a realistic online presence, but it also helps you to grow friendships with people, and you may feel like you have to share some details about yourself. However, you need to be really careful about what you’re putting out there, and who you trust with your data. Not everybody has good intentions, and although you don’t really want to think about these things, you could be opening yourself up to fraud, and even stalking.

Educate yourself

The best thing that you can do to protect yourself online is to know where the threats are, and what information you’re already putting out there, perhaps without even knowing. Even by having an IP address (which everybody has) somebody can see where you are in the world, what your broadband provider is, and a whole host of other information. If you’re not sure, type what is my IP into Google, and you’ll be shocked to see your details come up on the screen. There are ways around this, however, such as getting a VPN to scramble your IP address, so educate yourself on the risks, and do something about them.

Be cautious about antivirus software

Whilst you may think that antivirus software is helping you, it could be putting your computer at risk, so thoroughly look into this before you take the plunge. Downloading anything from the internet can be a pretty risky thing to do, and you may actually be downloading a virus instead, so check out the options out there that are legal, and recommended by people who know their stuff. You could end up with the exact opposite situation that you anticipated, so be smart about this, and research as much as you can before you pick out the software that you’re going to use. You’ll be glad that you did when you avoid that nasty virus.

Don’t click on suspicious links in emails

When it comes to having your data stolen by fraudsters, or being bombarded with a fatal virus, emails are the number one source of all of these issues. If you get an email from somebody that you don’t know, and it contains a link, don’t click on it, even if there is only a shadow of doubt about who the sender may be. There are plenty of examples out there of emails that look like they may be from legitimate companies that you use (such as PayPal) when in reality, a hacker has managed to pull off a pretty good replica. Always get in touch with a company if you think that the email may be a fake, and they can verify these things for you.

Change your passwords

Some of us are pretty bad when it comes to passwords, and we could be putting ourselves at risk as a result of this. If you use the same password for literally everything and it is a pretty simple one, too (like yourname123) then you are a lot more likely to get hacked into, and you are leaving yourself at the mercy of somebody who wants to steal your personal information. Make your passwords as complex as they can be, use uppercase letters and symbols, and don’t use the same password for absolutely everything. If somebody finds it out, you’ll live to regret this decision, as all of your accounts will be in chaos.

Use two-factor authentication

If you’re really worried about somebody getting their hands on some of your accounts, then why not set up two-factor authentication where you can? This means that every time you log into your accounts, you’ll have to verify that it is you, by typing in a code that has been sent to you via text message (or email, or an authentication app). There are many benefits to this, and whilst it may seem like a bit of a slog to type a code in every time you want to log in, you can save browsers so that you don’t have to do this. It will delete the browser if you clear your history, though, so be aware of this if you don’t want to keep typing it in.

Don’t take the risk

The main thing to remember about going online is that if you think something is a little bit suspect, then it probably is. If a link doesn’t seem to be legitimate, but you’re not sure, the best option is to avoid it altogether, and move that suspicious email to junk if you don’t think that it is the real deal. You’ll be glad that you went with your gut feeling, when you avoid getting a virus, and your data is protected from those who want to use it for illegal purposes. You can never be too safe online, so don’t take any risks, and do all that you can to avoid scams and fraud. It will take a little bit of time and tact, but it will be well worth it in the long-run.

So, if you’re looking to protect yourself online, follow these simple tips, and you should be well on your way to enjoying all of the positive sides of the internet, instead of suffering as a result of the worst. Good luck, and happy browsing!

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