Like Little Red Riding Hood walking through the dangerous woods to grandma’s house, cable internet users have to be careful to avoid falling prey to wolves. The internet is full of dangerous people who want to steal your information. Phishers, scammers and hackers are the internet equivalents of the big bad wolf, but if you follow a few basic tips, you will be much better equipped to handle cyber threats.
Run firewalls and antivirus
Even the most innocuous clicks can be dangerous. That link from grandma that looks like one of her not-so-funny web comics might pose a bigger threat than it seems. Savvy users can generally separate fact from fiction, but until you have eyes for spotting a scam, it is better to be safe than sorry. Firewalls keep hackers and malware from accessing your files remotely, and antivirus software can keep you from accidentally installing viruses that can impact your computer’s performance or steal your personal information. Viruses can even force you to participate in illegal behavior by running invisible scripts from your device that send out scam or phishing emails. A good firewall and antivirus combo will help protect you and your home internet service, no matter what you encounter in your browsing.
Maintain multiple emails
This is a good tip for general internet usage, not just security. Depending on what you use the internet for, you should create more than one email account. Most people have a work account, which is typically linked to your employment. However, it is a good idea to maintain a separate, personal email for correspondence with friends and family.
A personal email is good for using with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, but should not be linked to less reputable websites. For instance, if you want to use Craigslist to sell or buy from people in your area, you might want to consider creating a second email that is not linked to any of your personal information.
Establish multiple passwords
There are many charlatans on the web promising everything from get rich quick schemes to free video games. However, many of these sites merely pump you for information in an attempt to get ahold of valuable personal data, which can be used to access your email, Facebook or even your bank account.
Try to keep several passwords, so if a cyber criminal gets his or her hands on one of them, they don’t get access to everything. As an extra measure of security, you should maintain separate, highly-encrypted passwords for things like your bank account, your private email and anything that is linked to your credit card. For less important accounts, it is acceptable to use shared passwords, but this is still risky.
It doesn’t take much to protect your online identity, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.