Top 15 Internet Safety Rules for Everyone
Most of us rely heavily on the internet to enjoy social media, online education, remote work, and all sorts of entertainment. But widespread use doesn’t equal widespread understanding.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to stay safe when online. To help, we’ve brought together some of the best pieces of advice here.
Let’s go through the top 15 internet safety tips for kids and adults to follow.
1. Keep your confidential data offline
Cybercriminals cannot access your information if it’s nowhere to be found online. This is why storing important documents offline is the best way to protect them
Some data - such as your Social Security Number - should just never go online. However, when you still have to share it, be sure to send as an email attachment. Also, feel free to encrypt the file before sending.
2. Check a website’s reliability
Only signing up to reliable websites is best practice. But how do you know if a website is reliable? First, look at the address line: it should have a little padlock at the beginning - this means the connection is encrypted.
Second, review the look and feel of a website. Below are some criteria to indicate if a website is safe to use:
- pages look neat and are free from mistakes
- grammar in the body text and address line is consistent
- all images fit the screen’s width correctly
- ads feel organic and don’t obscure the main content
If the website meets all this criteria, then it is likely to be safe to use.
3. Use a strong password
Using strong, unique passwords offers good online protection. Strong passwords should contain at least 12 symbols and feature a mixture of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and special characters.
If you don’t want to think of a combination of symbols for your password, you should try using one of the online password generators.
4. Use two-factor authentication
2FA or two-factor authentication is used to provide your account with additional protection. When you sign into your account with 2FA, you must not only enter the correct password, but also an additional code generated earlier or sent to your device. If someone just gets a password for your account, they will not be able to access your profile without entering this additional code.
5. Avoid suspicious online links
There’s a certain kind of online content you should avoid: suspicious links from untrusted sources and spam emails, click bait, 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 the message will just say something like ‘open the attached file and let me know what you think’.
On a website, make sure both text and accompanying links are on 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 quickly leave the page.
6. Keep your computer updated
It’s important you use the latest versions of your operating systems and apps. Especially if these apps contain your payment, health, or other sensitive info. Developers are constantly working to make products safe, monitoring the latest threats and rolling out security patches in case of vulnerabilities. So, accept their work, update your software regularly, and do your bit to keep yourself secure.
7. Beware of free Wi-Fi and downloads
Free downloads, online services or Wi-Fi networks are the most common sources of online security 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 always safe, but sometimes we need to go online urgently. Remember to avoid accessing your bank accounts or completing 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 unsecured network. If it’s not urgent, then it’s better to postpone any important transactions until you get home.
8. Double check online information
It’s easy to get lost in the flood of online information we’re exposed to everyday. 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. Reliable websites should have references to the original information source. Suspicious pages won’t offer any references at all.
9. Secure your internet connection with VPN
A VPN makes your internet connection private by changing your IP address. It also hides the sensitive data you send over, including bank details when you’re shopping online and other private information that can be compromised.
10. Use cybersecurity software
Clario provides you with additional privacy benefits to help you avoid being monitored. It also protects your information from being leaked or shared. With Clario, you will be instantly alerted if your personal data goes public, so you can quickly re-secure it and protect yourself from identity theft.
Now that you know how to protect yourself online - it’s time you shared some basics with your kid (s). These security lessons are also good for other family members who may be less familiar with the internet (such as elderly relatives). So, here they are.
5 rules to teach your children on staying safe online
- Explain to your child what a digital footprint is. Together with your child, search for the information about yourself or an actor they like, and discuss the results. Talk about what others may learn about you from these results and how we leave a digital footprint on the internet - consciously or not.
- Create family rules for shared content. Clearly define for the whole family what content should and shouldn’t be shared online. Photos and personal information such as your home address and phone number should be among the first on the list.
- Help your child detect phishing. Explain to your child how to avoid messages, links, or emails from strangers asking for account information or featuring a weird attachment.
- Teach your child to create strong passwords. You can tell your child that an effective password must contain different characters and warn that it should not be shared with anyone.
- Encourage positive communication online. Explain to your child the importance of behaving politely online and to treat others the way you want to be treated. Just like in the physical, offline world.
Bonus: checklist on how to stay safe on the internet
In today’s world, we should look to behave online as safely as possible.
For any questionable situation that occurs when surfing the internet, let’s rewind our top internet safety rules:
- Keep your sensitive data offline
- Check the reliability of a website
- Protect your accounts using strong passwords and 2FA
- Avoid clicking suspicious links or attachments
- Do not open attachments from unknown senders
- Keep your device and applications updated
- Use public Wi-Fi wisely
- Double check the reliability of information online
- Use VPN to hide your activity online
- Use specific software to keep your information secure
- Explain to your kid about digital footprint online
- Create shared family rules for the internet
- Talk about phishing with your children
- Teach your kids to protect their online accounts
- Talk about online etiquette
Pro tip: by using the multiplatform Clario security app and following the basic internet safety rules above, you'll be well placed to avoid many of the cruel surprises that can potentially occur online. Good luck and stay safe out there!