The Internet is a seemingly endless resource for obtaining new information, sharing ideas, socializing, shopping, and staying connected. With the rise of mobile technology, we are constantly connected to the online world, whether browsing the Web, shopping at our favorite online retailer, checking our email, streaming music, watching movies, or getting up-to-date weather forecasts from our home screen widget. The more we utilize technology in our daily lives, the more we take for granted the risks inherent in a connected world. Unfortunately, the more connected we all become, the more vulnerable we allow ourselves to be.
Viruses, worms, Trojan horses, malware and spyware are human-made software programs created to wreak havoc on personal computers and networks. Unless you exercise great caution, your computer will almost certainly become infected.
Your password is your prime defense against unauthorized access to your personal account. If you don't want someone reading your e-mail or reviewing your banking records it's important to choose passwords carefully.
Just like in the real world, parents must exercise supervision of their kids. Of course this is easier said then done, particularly when children may be more comfortable with computers than their parents. If this sounds like you, don't be intimidated by the technology.
Online shopping has never been more popular. Before you hit the virtual malls, learn how to save time, money and grief.
Data traveling over a network presents an opportunity for someone to intercept this confidential information. Encryption is the key to securing sensitive information.
Online shopping has never been more popular. The reasons are easy to see–buying online saves time and money. Before you hit the virtual stores, review our tips.
An unscrupulous practice, known as phishing, is a high-tech way to lure you into revealing your sensitive data, like bank accounts, passwords, credit card numbers, and PIN codes. Armed with this information, your identity and your money can be stolen.
Stealth software programs known as spyware can be secretly installed on your computer. These programs record what you do and send your private information to…who knows where? And it's done without your knowledge or permission.
To avoid becoming a victim of misguided pranksters or cybercriminals, take the time to examine the security of your personal data. Here are some recommendations, along with links to more detailed information.
Using a public computer to check your e-mail, pay bills online and make travel arrangements may be more convenient than lugging around a laptop when you're on the road. But it's also more risky. Here are some safety tips to follow before you logon.
Although the Internet is rapidly becoming the dominant medium for business and global communication, it still remains something of a frontier, because there is little regulation. The absence of regulations means that everyone who uses this essentially public network can be a target for anyone who has the technical know-how and the desire to invade their privacy.
Almost everything you do online, whether it's visiting a website, reading a blog, downloading music or sending e-mail, leaves a trail of personal data. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, you can and should control who sees it.
How often do you backup the data on your computer? If you're like most people, it's not very often, if at all. Yet the information stored on your hard drive can be incredibly valuable. What would happen if it all disappeared?
For savvy shoppers, online auctions may reward you with outstanding values. But you may also find yourself a victim of fraud. Unlike buying products in the real world, online auctions pose unique risks.
Regardless of what you’re doing online, remember to think critically of everything you see and read. The Internet provides a forum for free expression and the ability to interact with the entire world, but that freedom comes with considerable risk. Fraudsters are out there, ready to prey on the gullible or exploit any security flaw they find. Never share your personal information unless absolutely necessary. Never trust unsolicited emails, even if they appear to come for companies you trust. And never click on suspicious links.
The key to staying safe online is to educate yourself about the activities you are participating in and to remain vigilant for signs of trouble.
In the mobile age, we are constantly connected to the Internet. All the tips you have read about here apply just as much to your smart phone as your computer. Enjoy the Internet, but browse responsibly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there tools to monitor what my kids are doing online?
Absolutely. The simplest method for monitoring your kid’s behavior is to check their browser history. However, this will only let you know where they’ve been, so it may be too late to prevent them from going to unwanted sites. And a savvy teen will know how to delete his tracks. A better option would be to install some type of filtering software. Before subscribing to a service, check with your Internet Service Provider, as they may offer free family protection as part of your internet package.
How do I know if a website is secure?
One of simplest way to check if a website is secure is to look for a lock icon, usually to the left of the address bar, but some browser may also place this in the lower left corner of the screen. If you click on the lock, it should provide you with information about the security Certificate. Learn more about online security.
Is it safe to use public Wi-Fi?
That depends on how you plan on using it. For simple web browsing, the risk is relatively low, though there is always some risk associated with public internet connections. Never use a public connection to transmit sensitive data. That includes actions such as using a credit card to purchase something online or checking your online bank statement. Save that stuff until you get home. In general, use public Wi-Fi the same way you would use a public PC.
My operating system comes with anti-virus software. Do I need additional protection?
Many operating systems now include their own anti-virus protection, but there is considerable debate regarding the effectiveness of such solutions. In general, if you want the best protection, rely on a company that specializes in anti-virus software. Your operating system does not. However, there is typically a cost associated with the best anti-virus software, which may be inhibiting for some. Free protection is also available, but this often requires more work to maintain. If you’re looking for a free service that you don’t have to maintain, the OS-provided anti-virus software may be your best bet. You can learn more about anti-virus protection here.
Is it safer to shop online at well-known retailers?
Not necessarily. Yes, the larger retailers have more money to put toward their online security and more reason to need that security to work effectively. However, because of their size, large retailers are much more likely to be the target of a data breach. Your best bet is to shop with stores you trust, whether they’re massive retailers or small shops. Just make sure they utilize a secure payment system. For more tips on safe online shopping, check out our Smart Shopping guide.