Although the internet has only been around for a couple of decades, nowadays, many could no longer envision living a life without it. After all, we depend on it for entertainment, to pay our bills, to do some shopping, to check up on our friends, and even to use it for work-related purposes.
But even though it has become so second nature by now, many pitfalls await on the internet, preying on the unwary. In other words, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could quickly find yourself on the receiving end of malware, personal data theft, or other sorts of mischief.
The great news is, most of these can be avoided if you take the time to do your due diligence. In today’s post, we’ll highlight what you need to do to stay safe online and give you the most important takeaways.
With that out of the way, here’s tip number one:
1. Always do your homework
When you’re about to sign up for a service online, keep in mind that not all of them are created equal. As disheartening as it may sound, not everyone has your best intentions in mind, so you should always double-check who you’re dealing with. For this example, let’s imagine you’re looking for some online casino entertainment, but you’re afraid of losing your hard-earned money to a shady operator.
The solution is to read some local reviews and choose the most suitable option based on your research. For instance, South African gamblers can use locally-tailored websites such as Zar Bonuses Finder to find the most reputable websites where they can safely place a bet, knowing their funds and personal details are in safe hands. The higher the ratings, the better, but you should also check how recent they are. The idea is to stick to the most reputable brands, which makes it very unlikely to run into any shady or unfair practices.
2. Don’t re-use your passwords
It may sound tempting to re-use the same password over and over for the sake of convenience and making it as easy on your memory as possible. But even though many people are doing this, it doesn’t make it a good idea. The reason is, if one of your accounts gets hacked, all of a sudden, the hackers will have access to all of your other user accounts as well. And you don’t want to find yourself in such a situation, ever.
Therefore, you should keep your passwords as complex and varied as possible and look into other ways of safeguarding them. As a general rule of thumb, you should design them to be longer than 12 characters (possibly even more than 16) and don’t forget to include capital letters and special symbols. As for storing them, try looking into password managers, a simple software solution that keeps all of them safe under one master key.
3. Steer clear of dodgy-looking websites
Although not every website out there is out there to get you or scam you (in fact, the majority are run by hard-working people who are just trying to make a living), that doesn’t mean you can just let your guard down automatically. If you’re careless enough to download every attachment or click on every link that comes your way, it’s only a question of time when you’re going to get infected by malware. And once the doors are opened for hackers to access your device, the damage can be irreparable.
So mind where you’re browsing and always judge every website (and its user) on a case-per-case basis. Tony Sloterman, the product owner at Casino Bonuses Finder, believes that no reputable website would shy away from displaying some sort of a certificate of authenticity, possibly in the most visible place for everyone to notice.
In the casino industry, such a certificate comes in the form of a gaming license that many casino owners display as a badge of honour. In other industries, at the very least, the website in question should utilise the HTTPS protocol (indicated by the lock symbol in your URL bar) and show signs of an active user base.
4. Keep your software up to date
Even if you’re careful when browsing online, you should never do so on an outdated operating system or without having any sort of cyber security software installed. The reason being is that hackers often tend to go after low-hanging fruit, which in this case translates to whoever is irresponsible enough to always click on “remind me later” whenever a system or software update prompt appears. At the end of the day, an outdated system is full of security holes and thus vulnerable to cyber attacks.
At the bare minimum, your should strive to keep it up to date, but your work doesn’t end there. Consider using other cyber security essentials such as antivirus software. That way, even if a virus manages to sneak past the radar and find itself on your hard drive, it will be able to pick it up and remove it before it does any major damage. A firewall is another great tool you should be using. In essence, it lets you monitor your network while alerting you of any suspicious activity.
When embarking on an online journey, you should never leave your better judgment behind. So stay vigilant, do what you can to stay safe, and never be afraid to question something if it doesn’t seem quite right.