While a lot of people stay away from computers entirely once they hear of the dangers of identity theft and computer viruses, others use them with reckless abandon. It’s as if they are completely invincible to any of the risks that are actually out there. One nasty pop-up or fake virus warning that is clicked on can lead to either one of two things:
- A nearly unusable machine with files you may never see again; or
- Stolen personal information
It sounds scary (and it should be) but it is not unmanageable.
Use Strong Passwords
Whether you are worried about the dangers of Internet browsing or merely want to prevent them from affecting you again after a bad experience, you can take some simple steps to keep yourself safe. Having strong passwords is at the top of the list. A good password is as unique and cryptic as possible. Stay away from anything common or something that could be easily figured out like birthdays. And please, make sure you don’t just use “password” as your password!
Use a Different Password for Different Accounts
A long series of letters (some of which should be capitalized) and numbers may be difficult to remember. However, you can also use some strange word that isn’t easy to figure. It can be a pain, but you should also make sure your passwords for every service you use (e-mail, bill payments, social media, forums, etc.) are all completely unique. A lot of these platforms may use the same security service to store user information, and if any of them should be compromised then someone may well have access to many of your accounts all over the web. The only way to be safe is to ensure all of your passwords are unique, and change them every few months if you can.
Other Effective Strategies
Strong, unique, and regular updated passwords are really only the tip of the iceberg. You will also need to take additional preventive measures:
- Pick a web browser that has access to effective pop blockers and antivirus software
- Hover your mouse over links to make sure the URL that they lead to is trustworthy
It may all sound like a lot of work, but in time, practicing good Internet security is easily worked into your everyday computer routine. Only with proper Internet security will you be able to browse the Internet worry free.