Top 15 Internet Safety Rules for Everyone
Internet safety rules for digital users like you and me need to be followed as technology advances at a rapid rate. Today, the Internet has evolved from a lovable pet into a potentially dangerous beast so online safety tips should always be at the forefront of your mind.
Who could have predicted that opening a Facebook profile would result in the sale of personal data without your knowledge? You already know that the Internet is no longer a safe place. But, don’t be scared: you can tame the monster and make it work effectively for you by following our online safety rules list.
1. No connection is your best protection
In other words, keep confidential data offline. This could be at the cornerstone of the Internet safety rules. Cybercriminals cannot get your information if it can’t be found online. Some data - such as your Social Security Number - should never go online. Storing important documents offline is the best way to protect it. However, when you have to share some information, send it as an attachment to an email. Also, feel free to encrypt the file before sending.
2. Embrace your right to stay anonymous
Only sign up to reliable websites. How do you know if a website is reliable? First, look at the address line: it should have a little padlock at the beginning - that means the connection is encrypted.
Second, review the look and feel of a website. Here are some features you should look for when checking the reliability of a website: if the pages look neat, are free from misprints and bad grammar in the text or address line, images fit correctly and ads don’t overlay the main content, then it is likely to be safe to use. If the website design looks somewhat awkward or last century, it’s better not to sign up. Instead, do whatever you need without creating a profile. In case the website’s database gets compromised, you won’t get affected.
3. Use handy security for your online accounts
Using strong, unique passwords and two-factor authentication offers good protection, but it comes at a price. First off, it can be a challenge to remember all password combinations. Plus, waiting for confirmation messages can sometimes take some time. However, there's a compromise: use your fingerprint to log in when possible as almost all mobile gadgets have a biometric sensor.
Keeping in mind habit #2, you should be safe enough. For laptops and desktops that don’t have the sensor, use a password manager or just benefit from the native password saving option of your browser. This way, you can set up passwords as complex as you want, and still log in fast and effortlessly.
4. Read carefully and click wisely
There’s a certain kind of online content you should avoid: suspicious links from untrusted sources and spam emails, click baits, online quizzes, tabloid headers, ‘free’ offers or unsolicited ads. They are easy to recognize: all will urge you to click or open them. If it is a malicious email attachment, the text will not mention the file, instead saying ‘open the attached file and let me know what you think’.
On a website, make sure both text and accompanying link are about the same subject. If you click a link to read more about polar bears and instead of seeing the Arctic, you get a ‘success story’ about a celebrity who lost weight or gave up smoking overnight, then it’s better to leave the page.
5. Free is almost never good or safe
Free downloads, online services or Wi-Fi networks are the most common sources of problems. If you decide to go for a free solution, make sure it has a reliable reputation: research the name of the service or software and you will probably find some feedback on how it works.
Using free Wi-Fi is not safe, but sometimes we need to go online urgently. Remember that you should not access your bank accounts or complete purchases via free Wi-Fi. If you do need to do this, use VPN software to get some protection for the data you send over the unsecure network. In other cases, it’s better to postpone important operations until you get home.
6. Updates are important - don’t underestimate them
It’s important that you use the latest versions of your operating systems and apps. Especially the apps that contain your payment, health or other sensitive info as developers are constantly working to make products safe. They monitor the latest threats and roll out security patches in case there’s a vulnerability. So, accept their work, update and stay safe.
7. Brevity is the soul of wit
When you create a profile on a website, it’s okay to leave some fields empty. Only complete fields marked as obligatory. Remember that some information - such as your date of birth or your pet’s name - can be an answer to a security question, so it’s better to keep them private. In addition, you can choose a funny avatar and a gender-neutral nickname instead of your real photo and name. Staying anonymous means you’re better protected.
8. Those who ask questions don't lose their way
If a website or service asks you to provide unusual personal information in exchange for providing a service, don’t be shy to ask how the data will be treated, stored and protected. Explain your concerns and ask for an alternative to providing information you’re concerned about. If the requesting service has nothing to hide, they will give you an overview of what they will do with your data.
9. Learn the online safety tips for parents
Nowadays, knowing online safety rules is probably as crucial as knowing how to be safe when crossing the street. When you teach your kid to avoid taking sweets from strangers on the street, give them advice on staying safe on the Internet too.
Online bullying, inappropriate adult or violent content can confuse your child. Make sure you build a relationship of trust between you and your kid so they are not afraid to talk about anything they find upsetting online. Explain to your offspring that those online may not be who they claim to be so there is a need to be vigilant when interacting and connecting.
10. Think critical and double check online information
It’s easy to get lost in the flood of online information we receive everyday. In many cases, in the process of reposting and re-writing, the facts can get distorted. If you find something questionable, do your own research to find out the truth or - at least - make up your own mind on a matter. It’s probably quite naive and unsafe to trust everybody on the Internet, so don’t jump to conclusions too fast. Reliable websites should have references to the original information source while the suspicious pages don’t offer any references at all.
11. It's easier to trust when you can verify
12. Be careful with what you post to social media
Photos of tickets with bar or QR codes and documents with your address or other sensitive data should never go on social media. If you are excited about the show you’re going to, it’s always better to post a picture of the celebrity or artist in question. You can tag them, write a few words about what a huge fan you are and how you’re looking forward to the event.
13. Respect others so that they respect you
If you’re about to post an angry message on Facebook or Twitter, think twice before sharing and consider its impact on your online reputation. Remember, even if you remove a post after cooling down, other users can take screenshots of it and use it however they want to.
If you’re not satisfied with a service or product, write to those responsible so they hear you from you directly. If you’d still like to post on social media, include only essential facts and avoid biased or offensive comments.
14. Mind your Internet etiquette
People evaluate each other by their online activity and sometimes several seconds is enough to make up one’s mind on whether you want to get to know someone better. Sometimes you have to write an email to a person you’ve never met in real life and you’re unsure of the style you should use. In this case it’s better to start in a formal style, then adopt an informal tone if appropriate. Being polite is always better than being rude.
15. Learn safety tips for online dating
Social media is designed to connect people and an online friendship can grow to a really close and long-term relationship. Sometimes, a completely unfamiliar person sends you a friend request and you don’t know who they are or why they’re interested in you.
It’s not completely safe to meet your online friends in real life: you never know if the person you’re texting is who they claim to be. However, you can look for some mutual friends and check their profiles to have an idea of the identity of your friend-to-be.
We hope our Internet safety rules will help you enjoy your digital life without fear of any data breaches. Now you know more on how to stay safe online, find out more about what we call “The Internet of Us”.
Meanwhile, at Clario we’re hard at work on creating a first-class tech solution for your digital safety, combined with expert human support on call 24/7. We’re eager to help and support you, so stay tuned for more updates!
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