Safe browsing is easy to do, but not enough people do it. You don’t have to be one of those people who has their computer or personal information compromised because of unsafe browsing, or if this has already happened to you, it doesn’t have to happen again. So what can you do to prevent it?
Make Strong Passwords, Use Them and Change Them Frequently
It’s easy to make strong passwords that are difficult to crack. For a strong password, use lots of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. At least eight characters in password length is a good rule of thumb. You can include nonsense words or phrases to make it easier to remember, but make certain that none of this would make much sense to someone trying to figure out what your password might be. Whatever you do, don’t put any personal information like your name or birth date into your password! This would make it much easier to guess. You also want to change your passwords every six months or so, and use a different password at least for each of your most important accounts, like online banking or payment services that have access to your money.
Use Security Software and Keep It Updated
You’ll also want to install anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computer, and you want to keep it constantly updated because new viruses and malware programs come out and threaten your computer and personal information all the time. Use a firewall, too. A firewall is an application that blocks unauthorized access to your computer. Security software is important for desktop and laptop computers and also for mobile devices with wireless internet access, as security problems present themselves whenever there is a connection to the internet, and indeed whenever there is a connection to any kind of computer network. This is especially true for public wireless hotspots.
Watch Out for Email Attachments and Instant Message Links
Email attachments are a common way for viruses and malware to enter your computer, so if you get any attachments that you’re not expecting, don’t open them unless you’re very sure that they’re safe. Know that sometimes hackers will even pose as your friends if they’ve compromised your friends’ email accounts, though to be honest these hackers are usually not very good at acting. The same goes for links embedded in instant messages: if it looks fishy, don’t click on it. Clicking on pop-up ads when you’re browsing the web is also a bad idea, since these can redirect to viruses or malware that then infect your computer. You may also want to run an anti-virus or anti-malware scan if your computer has been running unusually slowly lately or if you’re getting lots more pop-up ads or error messages than usual, as these can be signs of a malicious software infection. If you can do all this, or even some of it, you’ll make major strides in improving the safety of your web browsing experience.