Simple Tips for Secure Browsing
There are a lot of habits that you should build up to advance the safety of your online activities. While the following list may appear like a lot to control, most of these recommendations are simple and following them will considerably boost your browsing security.
- Keep your browser up-to-date: This is critical, as new patches are often issued to fix existing vulnerabilities in browser software. This tip doesn’t apply only to browser software – it is critical to keep system software and any other software you have up-to-date for the same reason.
- Run anti-virus software: Even though Anti-virus software doesn’t cover a complete protection, it provides protection by scanning for and removing malicious files on your computer. There are many excellent options for virus protection software (both paid and free), so it is up to you to do a little research and select a program that best fits your needs.
- Inspect files before downloading: It is important to prevent downloading anything until you’re certain that it is secure. If you have any doubt that a file may not be legitimate or may be infected, scan it with antivirus software before downloading.
- Look out for phishing: Phishing attacks use online communications (usually email) to trick users into giving out their sensitive information. Often times these messages appear to be from banks, social media sites, shopping sites, or payment processers. Phishing messages frequently contain links that lead to counterfeit versions of popular sites. You can avoid falling victim to phishing schemes by ignoring unsolicited messages and not clicking on hyperlinks or attachments in emails (type or copy/paste the URL as it appears instead).
- Avoid reusing passwords: Using the same password for multiple sites only makes it easier for attackers to compromise your sensitive information. Instead, keep track of your different passwords with a handwritten list that you keep in a safe place or come up with your own algorithm for creating unique passwords that only you would know. It is also recommended that you change your passwords every 90 days.
- Try Using HTTPS: The “s” in “https” stands for secure, meaning that the website is employing SSL encryption. Check for an “https:” or a padlock icon in your browser’s URL bar to verify that a site is secure before entering any personal information.
- Check privacy policies: Websites’ privacy policies and user agreements should provide details as to how your information is being collected and protected as well as how that site tracks your online activity. Websites that don’t provide this information in their policies should generally be avoided.
- Frequently observe your bank statements: Keeping an eye on your online statements will allow you to react quickly in the event that your account has been compromised.
- Keep away from public or free Wi-Fi: Attackers often use wireless sniffers to steal users’ information as it is sent over unprotected networks. The best way to protect yourself from this is to avoid using these networks altogether.
- Disable stored passwords: Nearly all browsers and many websites in general offer to remember your passwords for later use. Enabling this feature stores your passwords in one location on your PC, making them easier for an attacker to discover if your system gets compromised. If you have this feature enabled, disable it and clear your stored passwords.
- Enable your browser’s popup blocker: Popup blocking is now a standard browser capability and should be enabled any time you are surfing the web. If it must be disabled for a specific program, turn it back on as soon as that activity is complete.
Following these 11 practices will go a long way in protecting you from hackers, malware, and many of the other vulnerabilities that we encounter online