Everyone and anyone who uses the Internet and social media needs to read this guide to stay safe online.
1. Secure your computer
This is the first step to ensure your online safety. Install an antivirus software and also make sure you stay up-to-date with your computer’s safety updates. Anti-spyware software and firewall tools can help prevent malicious spyware and viruses from getting on your system. You must also secure your tablets, Smartphone and other devices y using current versions of software and apps.
2. Use strong passwords
Always use strong passwords for your bank account, email, money transfer accounts etc. A good password consists of a series of letters (upper and lowercase both), numbers as well as special characters which are not connected to you in any way. For example, avoid using your kids’ middle names or your pet’s names which you have publically listed on Facebook. Keep your password safe and never tell it to anyone. Never write down passwords or ATM pins anywhere ;it is best to keep it memorized.
3. Be careful what you post on social media
This includes your profile as well as your daily updates. Write as little as possible on your social media profiles. Never mention things like dates on which your family would be going away on vacation etc. This is an open invitation to con men and burglars. Avoid putting your phone number and birth date on any websites.
4. Do not let anyone bully you on social media
This is especially important for kids and teenagers. Do not let anyone bully you or send you inappropriate messages or images. If someone is ‘stalking’ you on social media; you can ‘un-friend’ or ‘block’ them. If someone is threatening you or upsetting you any way, consult your parents, and if needed, the cops.
5. Avoid opening email attachments from strangers
The best way to stay safe online on emails is to avoid opening attachments from strangers which could download virus or malware on your computer. If you have anti-virus software installed; that should protect you from such messages. If you are getting emails from people you do not know, you can use the Block sender option. If someone you know is sending you threatening emails, then you must save them as proof.
6. Safety rules for online money transactions
Never send money online to people you do not know and this includes ‘friends’ who suddenly seem to be in trouble and ask for donations. Always confirm first before giving your account details. You might get emails from strangers asking for charity or even claiming that you have won the lottery for which you need to send them your account details. These are most definitely a scam.
7. Shop smart online
If you buy stuff online always do so from reputed retailers. Conduct your research about the website you are purchasing stuff from. Use safe payment options like Net bank transfers or credit card payments and also check for the security enabled symbol ‘https’. Always know the returns policy in advance prior to buying online.
8. Limit the business you do over public wifi
Never do business transactions over public wi-fi systems as these are very vulnerable to hacking.
9. Backup data
Back up your computer from time to time. You can buy a USB drive to do so.
10. Limit/monitor your child’s Internet usage
Educate your children about staying safe online. Monitor your child’s Internet usage and make sure s/he visits safe sites only. If needed, install firewall software to restrict your child’s web surfing. Make sure children are unable to guess passwords. Inform them about the dangers of cyber crime and ask them not to mention any details like birthdates, passwords etc on social media.
Use these 10 easy ways and stay safe online.