How To Stay Safe in the Internet Age
We live in the digital age. Today, the internet has permeated almost every aspect of our lives, often in ways we don’t immediately realize. Staying safe online is important. Unfortunately, cybercrime is a reality we all must face.
When you think of this issue, you may at first think of a hacker trying to break into your computer and steal your financial information. However, there is far more to these threats. Additionally, many malicious actors’ methods are far more sophisticated than most people realize.
This can make the question of how to protect yourself online a challenging one to answer. Before even beginning to address this concern, you must first understand what constitutes these threats.
Detailed Information about Cybersecurity
What Is Cybercrime?
The term refers to any criminal activity that happens either entirely or primarily online. This includes crimes such as gaining unauthorized access to a device and/or data. For example, identity theft is a cybercrime when perpetrated using the internet.
The definition can also include fraud, stalking, harassment, sharing information without permissions and child abuse. So many interactions are possible via the internet, so a massive array of crimes are also possible.
As well, many criminals and terrorists conduct activities online. Thus, even though their primary crimes may be offline, they often commit cybercrimes as secondary offenses. In other words, it is a far-reaching concept.
Types of Cybercrime
While many crimes can be committed online, most of us are concerned primarily about protecting our information and access to our families. People are most likely to be affected by compromised software, data taken from social media and online harassment. Here are some of the common threats:
- Malware: When thinking of cybercrime, this is likely the first thing you think of. Malware is software created with malicious intent. This encompasses viruses, adware, trojans and more. Even software officially supported by companies can be considered malware if it acts against the user’s interests without his or her knowledge.
- Phishing: This type of threat seeks to gather information from you by tricking you into providing it. For example, a phisher may send you an email including a link pretending to be a trusted source. That link prompts you to log in to an account, thereby giving the phisher your credentials. Phishing can take many different forms, and some schemes are quite sophisticated.
- Cyber-Stalking: Today, people share a lot of their lives online. This may seem completely innocuous, but it allows bad actors access to a great deal of information. They can stalk someone entirely through the internet. Furthermore, this may result in graduating to other crimes, including harassment, assault or worse.
- Harassment: Many positive social interactions occur over the internet. Unfortunately, the same tools that allow these interactions can also enable harassment. Online harassment is essentially the same pattern of unwanted contact, aggressive behavior or intimidation, only perpetrated through the internet. This is a particularly common issue for children.
There are many more types, but these are the most common threats that individuals need to be wary of for themselves and their families. Fortunately, a few simple techniques can help keep you safe.
How To Protect Against Cybercrime
Now that we know what it is, the big question is how to protect yourself from it. Online criminals can be creative and tenacious. High-profile targets often need to invest significant effort into protecting themselves. Fortunately, most cybercriminals targeting individuals and families tend towards the low-hanging fruit. You can protect yourself and your loved ones with a little consistent effort:
- Install Internet Security Software: Antivirus and firewall software can help a great deal in protecting against malware and keeping you safe online. High-quality security software protects you in real time while also helping you remove potential threats from your devices.
- Practice Powerful Password Policies: Strong passwords are essential. Avoid repeating passwords to make phishing efforts less effective. Additionally, try to use at least 10 characters. Consider a password management application to help keep everything straight.
- Protect Your Network: Use a strong password to protect your wireless network. Additionally, consider a virtual private network to encrypt your communication outside your network.
- Update Your Software: Your operating system and security software can do a lot to protect you. However, they are less effective when out of date. Make sure to update frequently.
- Talk With Your Family: Your family members, especially children, may be targets for cyber-stalking and harassment. Talk to them about avoiding malicious websites and encourage them to speak up if they have negative experiences online.
- Change Social Media Settings: If you allow public access to your information, change your settings. Some social networks allow contacts of your contacts to see your information. You may want to limit what is available to that group. This can go a long way to protect against identity theft and cyber-stalking.
- Know How to Respond: If you believe you have been a victim of cybercrime, take it seriously. Report it to the authorities. Additionally, change your passwords the same way you would change your locks after a break-in.
- Maintain Healthy Suspicion: While there is no need to be paranoid, you also shouldn’t be overly trusting. If an email seems odd, for example, check where it came from before clicking any links.
- Stay In the Know: Keep yourself informed about security news. If you at least know about major breaches, you can be prepared for potential problems.
While these techniques won’t provide perfect protection, they will make you a more challenging target for cybercriminals. One of the best things you can do to stay safe is to stay vigilant. Keep yourself informed and watch for anything that seems suspicious. For example, if you start getting unexpected popups, chances are your computer has some malware that needs to be removed.
Unfortunately, the signs of cybercrime are not always so obvious. However, if you monitor your interactions, those of your family and keep on top of financial data, you can be ready to respond to threats.
Staying Up to Date on Cybersecurity
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