Internet safety 101: 10 Simple Rules to Keep You Safe [2023]

edited August 2023 in Lifestyle

Thinking of getting a computer for the first time? The internet is a powerful tool that offers endless opportunities for learning, entertainment, and communication. But as we spend more time online, it's important to remember that danger can lurk on the internet. Read on to discover ways to secure your data and keep viruses, malware, and hackers at bay.

To help keep you and your loved ones safe while surfing the web, we've compiled a list of 10 simple rules for internet safety. From knowing how to spot phishing scams to setting solid passwords, these tips will help you confidently navigate the online world and protect yourself from potential threats.

10 simple internet tips to keep you safe 

1) Use antivirus software 

When it comes to internet safety, using reputable antivirus and anti-malware software is a must. These programs work by scanning your computer for known threats and blocking or removing them if found. But with so many options on the market, how do you choose the right one?

First, stick to well-known brands that have been reviewed by independent testing organizations:

Don't forget to keep your software up to date to ensure it can protect you against the latest threats. But remember, having antivirus and anti-malware software is just one piece of the puzzle.

2) Keep your software and operating system up to date 

Staying on top of software and operating system updates is crucial for keeping your devices and data safe. When developers spot a software vulnerability, they release updates to fix it. And these updates do add new features and harden security. So, installing them as soon as they become available is essential.

For example, your operating systems, such as Windows or mobile devices, have updates regularly to fix vulnerabilities and improve the system's overall security. And it's also crucial to keep the software you regularly use up to date, such as your web browsers.

Turn on Windows auto-update feature to automatically update the software and operating system without needing you to do it manually. Not only will this protect you from known vulnerabilities, but it'll also improve your device's performance and give you access to the latest features.

Keep your devices and data safe by staying on top of updates. It's a win-win situation.

3) Practice safe browsing 

While the internet is a fountain of knowledge, it is also the hiding place and hunting ground for those who prey on anyone coming their way. The internet is a virtual minefield of scams, malware infections, trojan horses, ransomware, and other online tricks to get your personal information or your money.

  • Be cautious when visiting websites. If your browser or virus protection software warns you that a site is unsafe, take heed and stay away. And when it comes to offers and deals that seem too good to be true, trust your instincts and proceed with caution. 
  • Be sensible rather than impulsive when browsing the web. If offers or deals seem too good to be true, they probably are. Take the time to research a site or offer before you hand over any personal information or money.  
  • Check the site's security before entering personal information. Look for https at the beginning of the URL and the locked padlock icon in your browser's address bar. Don't enter personal information on a website that isn't secure.

Follow these simple tips to help protect yourself from online dangers and enjoy a safer, more secure browsing experience.

4) Stay safe while shopping online 

Online shopping is a breeze, but it's not without its risks. To keep your personal information and financial data safe, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Buy from reputable companies that offer money-back guarantees. If you're unsatisfied with your purchase, you can return it for a refund. 
  • Verify Sellers. Use the Better Business Bureau to review companies. Always check for verified badges or seller ratings to ensure you're buying from a reputable seller. 
  • Use PayPal. Use a third-party payment service like PayPal for online purchasing. This keeps your bank details from being shared directly with the seller and makes it harder for hackers to access your financial information.

5) Use strong passwords 

The simplest way to stay secure online is to use passwords that are difficult for anyone to guess. This means choosing passwords that are long, complicated, and unique. Writing down passwords is a dangerous proposition — they should be committed to memory — and sharing passwords with anyone, even friends and family, is likewise damaging.

  • Use complex passwords. Don't use 'password' or your date of birth for a password. Instead, use at least 10 letters, numbers, symbols, or special characters. Generate unique, random passwords with Secure Password Generator.  
  • Use different passwords for different sites. Unique passwords are critical, preventing a single data breach from compromising all of them. 
  • Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is an important security measure and can be used to help protect accounts from unauthorized access. By requiring a second step of authentication, such as a code sent to your phone, it becomes much more difficult for hackers to guess your password and gain access to your accounts. Fortunately, many popular websites and online services offer two-factor authentication. It's a simple yet powerful tool to help keep your personal information safe. 
  • Use a password manager. If you need help remembering passwords, use a secure password manager to create strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts and automatically fill them in when you visit the website. This means you don't have to remember any passwords apart from the original one. This also makes it just about impossible for a hacker to guess what your password might be.

6) Be careful about downloads 

Downloading apps and software can make life a lot easier, but it's essential to be on your guard against malicious downloads disguised as harmless programs. Cybercriminals often disguise malware as:

  • Popular games 
  • Traffic monitors 
  • Weather reports  
  • Banking apps

Not all apps are what they seem, as scammers use these downloads to infiltrate your computer and install malware, which can be incredibly damaging and compromise your personal information or networks. 

When downloading, think about the following:

  • Download from a reputable source. Always download your apps or software from a reputable company that you trust. 
  • Consider the required settings. For instance, why would a weather app need access to your camera? If registration is required, why would you need to provide your mother's maiden name to catch a bus? 
  • Watch for adware. Read the window before you click, and then read the one that opens to ensure you download your intended item. Be on guard for adware or other unwanted items on the same page as the software you are after, just in case you download the wrong thing.

7) Be wary of phishing emails and online scams 

Phishing emails are a common online scam and are especially dangerous if personal or financial information is involved. These emails may be disguised as legitimate messages from banks or other trusted companies — such as Amazon — telling you that there is an issue with your account, and prompting you to click a link to access it.

However, this link takes you to a malicious website that looks exactly like a legitimate one but is actually an imitation designed to capture your login information and passwords. When you log in, the hacker copies your login details and can then steal your money or personal information.

To protect yourself:  

  • Don't open an attachment or click on links in an email unless you are sure it is real and necessary. 
  • Don't click on a link if you don't know where it will take you.  
  • If you are unsure if it is safe for you to provide the information or open attachments, contact the company and ask if it is standard practice 
  • Check with the Federal Trade Commission, which lists the latest scams.

8) Protect your personal information 

When using the internet and social media, you must be wary of the personal information you make available, such as:

  • Address 
  • Phone number 
  • Social Security number 
  • Mother's maiden name

Tips to protect your personal information: 

  • Don't overshare on social media. Identity thieves may harvest your social media posts to hack into your accounts, gather personal data, or steal your identity. So you must be mindful of what information you share. Keep these personal details private and off the internet.  
  • Avoid Personal Usernames. Avoid personal information like your family name or date of birth when creating a screen name.

Being judicious and keeping personal data out of the public eye is a great way to stay safe and protect your privacy.

9) Treat DMs suspiciously 

Direct messaging (DM) apps have become a staple in our daily communication, but it's important to remember that they come with risks. To keep yourself safe while using DMs, protect yourself by:

  • Be wary of links, files, and messages from people you don't know. Even if the sender seems legitimate, verify their identity before providing any personal information.  
  • Ensure your app is always up-to-date. Newer versions often include security updates and bug fixes that can protect you from malicious attacks. 
  • Implement two-factor authentication. This adds an extra layer of security to your accounts, making it harder for attackers to access your personal information.

Following these simple steps can help ensure your safety while using IMs and defend against malicious attackers. Stay vigilant and stay safe while communicating online.

10) Be careful who you meet online 

As we spend more time online, it's important to remember that not everyone we meet online is who they claim to be. Fake social media profiles are a common tactic used by hackers to gain access to personal information and steal from unsuspecting users. To protect yourself, be as cautious and sensible in your online interactions as you are in your in-person interactions.

When meeting people online, be cautious about the information you share. Even if you've been chatting for a long time, be careful before sharing personal information, photos, money, or other items. And if someone you've met online seems too good to be true, it's worth taking the time to investigate their identity and background.

Also, be aware of the signs of a potential scam, such as requests for money, personal information, or pressure to make a decision quickly. By staying vigilant and cautious, you can help protect yourself from online scams and enjoy a safer and more secure online experience.

The internet is a wild, wonderful place, but it's not without its hazards. From hackers to scammers, plenty of bad actors are out there looking to take advantage of the unwary. But don't worry. Stay safe online with these 10 internet safety rules. You'll be able to surf the web confidently and avoid the nasty surprises that lurk online for the careless. 

*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.

About Robert Stark: Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech. 

Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.


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