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Internet privacy and security has always been important, but it’s fair to say that it’s more important ...
Internet privacy and security has always been important, but it’s fair to say that it’s more important now than ever before.
The simple fact is that the average individual now conducts a significant portion of their life online and, as such, there are far more opportunities for cyber criminals to exploit unsuspecting or careless individuals.
Some might say that if you haven’t been the victim of some kind of online fraud, it’s only a matter of time until it happens—but there are a host of things you can do to protect yourself.
Nowadays, many Internet threats are essentially confidence tricks. People send out emails that look like they’ve come from your bank, or trick you into accessing fake sites that request your personal details. Make suspicion your default mode whenever you’re online.
You haven’t won thousand dollars in a competition you never entered; there isn’t a parcel waiting for you that you didn’t order, and it’s highly unlikely that you need to attend a court case you know nothing about. Don’t be fooled into opening email attachments that are sure to contain viruses.
It’s now widely known that sites like Facebook track your online activity for the purposes of ad targeting. If you’re uncomfortable with this, consider using an ad-blocking utility like AdBlock Plus, which can prevent companies from getting the information they’re after.
Antivirus (or Internet Security) software is not a luxury—it’s an essential. Always use it with Windows, and keep it up to date. This isn’t the place to debate whether you really need it on a Mac, but if you’re security conscious you should at least consider it.
You may not know this, but if you don’t use full disk encryption on your laptop, all your data is there for the taking if your laptop is lost or stolen; all a thief need do is remove the hard drive and plug it in elsewhere. If you keep private or client information on your laptop, use an encryption solution.
There are sometimes spates of criminals phoning and pretending to be from Microsoft in an attempt to gain remote access to your computer. Microsoft will never phone you. Hang up.
Public Wi-Fi networks are useful, but they should be used for casual browsing, not your monthly Internet banking session.
Websites don’t suggest you use complicated passwords just to annoy you. Mixtures of numbers, letters, and punctuation make passwords much harder to crack. Strong passwords reduce your chances of falling victim to online crime.
Once you know your way around Google, you’ll quickly notice that there’s plenty of pirate software out there for the taking. Don’t give in to the temptation, as this software often has a sting in the tail in the form of viruses and malware. If you need software, do the right thing and pay for it.
When you’re online, it’s best to assume that the authorities can see everything you do. If you wouldn’t be happy to share certain information with your grandmother and the local law enforcement agencies, then don’t post it online!