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6 Safety Tips for Everyone Who Spends Too Much Time Online

 According to Statista, between November 2021 and October 2022, almost 16,000 cybercrimes took place worldwide. Intuitively, the more time you spend online, the higher you are at risk of becoming a target. Bad things that can happen to you include data theft, scams, and cyberbullying, to name a few.

Here are a few safety tips you need to know if you spend a lot of time online.

1. Use a strong password

While most cyberattacks do not come from people you know personally, having easy-to-guess passwords can put you at a high risk of losing your data. Some of the people involved in stealing personal information use quite sophisticated methods to achieve their objectives and might know more about you than you suspect. As such, don’t use passwords based on your birthday, name, or any other details that might be publicly available. Also important, don’t use passwords that can be easily guessed by default, such as 0,1,2,3 or 1,1,1,1.

For stronger protection, passcodes can be complemented with two-factor authentication (2FA). This step typically involves a code sent to your mobile device. By enabling 2FA, you make sure that an account cannot be hacked as long as the associated mobile phone is in your possession, even when someone has managed to discover the account’s password.

2. Update your software regularly

We are used to receiving software update notifications from our devices’ operating systems, as well as from most of the apps we use. While constant update requests can be bothering at times, they play an important role in ensuring the software we use contains the most recent security patches. New cyber threats are discovered every day, meaning that the more you postpone updating an application, the more vulnerable it becomes.

For the reasons exposed above, you also want to update antivirus and anti-malware as regularly as needed. You can think of these programs as your digital guardians that can only function properly if you take proper care of them. Having your antivirus software up-to-date along with your apps and operating system should ensure that your overall risk of becoming a cyber victim is low.

3. Don’t readily respond to emails from unknown senders

If you have ever checked your spam folder, you know it’s full of all sorts of messages that are trying to persuade you to engage in specific actions. Typical spam messages include product promotions from unknown sources, suspicious prize reward notifications, and even marriage proposals.

Some of these emails are very dangerous, as they may contain links that, once clicked, will redirect you to pages with software meant to harm your computer and/or steal your data. For this reason, it is best practice to never click on links from unknown senders.

Other types of emails don’t contain links but request you to provide them with your sensitive information. For example, the email might inform you that you have won a prize and need to provide your credit card details to receive it. Such emails are always scams, and you should report them as phishing.

4. Investigate the people who contact you

Some people underestimate just how easy it is to pose as someone else over the Internet. For example, you might get contacted on social media by someone pretending to be your friend you haven’t seen for a while or a distant relative.

Alternatively, you might receive an email from someone pretending to be a representative of any organization. Such emails will often contain the name of the organization in the email address, but a careful inspection of the address should tell you that the sender is likely someone else. For example, a company will usually have a professional email that ends in a format that resembles @companyname.com. Any email sent from a personal email address (e.g., one ending in gmail.com or hotmail.com) is a red flag.

While you should never provide credit card information or other sensitive details to strangers, you can use people search websites to find out whether someone is who they say they are. On Nuwber, you can find anyone’s phone numbers, addresses, criminal records, social media profiles, and other useful details.

5. Be careful with cookies

Cookies are text files stored on your device by websites. Many of them serve useful purposes, such as remembering your login details or site preferences. That being said, companies mostly use cookies to find out information about your preferences so they can serve the content and ads that are the most likely to resonate with you.

Some people see cookies as an invasion of their privacy, and many sites make it possible to only accept the necessary cookies. By learning more about them, you can decide for yourself what data you are willing to share with third parties and what data you aren’t.

6. Only make purchases on secure websites

To make sure your payment information is not exposed to third parties, never make purchases on websites that do not use SSL encryption. Today, most, if not all browsers, will inform you if a site is secure or not and warn you against making payments on one that isn’t. The simplest way of knowing if a site is using SSL is by looking at whether the URL starts with https or not.

Bottom line: It’s better to be safe than sorry

Protecting yourself against cyberattacks and other online dangers may occasionally require a bit of effort from your side, but it’s well worth it. By regularly updating your software, using 2FA, and avoiding providing sensitive information to third parties, you are likely at a low risk of contributing to the statistical values provided at the beginning of this blog post.

Last but not least, don’t forget that as the online world evolves, so do ill-intentioned tactics. In other words, it’s not only your phone or computer’s software that needs to be up-to-date, but also your mental ‘software’. The world is changing fast, and the better prepared you are for potential threats, the more likely you are to fully enjoy the new perks that come with technological development. 

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