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Staying safe online: 4 essential tips on staying protected while surfing

The internet is considered by many to be the number one greatest invention of mankind, and for a good reason. As we move forward with technology and digitalization, the number of things that we wouldn’t be able to do on the web are more and more reduced.

Having entered the third decade of this century, we can observe activities, businesses, and entire industries transitioning to the online world. From the entertainment industry, through finances and banking to retail and shopping, more and more aspects of our modern lives are comfortably accessible with the help of a smartphone or personal computer. The widespread usage of said devices allows a large chunk of the world’s population to engage in various online activities and propel the world toward technological progress.

The risks

As many possibilities as all this carries, we cannot soar past all the risks and danger that inevitably come alongside our obsession with the internet. The negative side of the online world includes well-known hazards, such as cyber-attacks, cyberbullying, invasion of privacy, decreased personal security and identity theft, among others. Alongside the more experienced internet users, the elderly and the very young are at an increased risk of being taken advantage of online, just for being more gullible and less able to assess risk. However, this doesn’t mean that proficient internet-users, such as university students wouldn’t occasionally face the dangers the online world poses. This is why this list of tips that may help you stay safe and protect your information can come in handy.

The personal should remain personal

Utilizing some of the services and options offered by the internet requires users to share personal information, such as birthdays and addresses. With the recent escalation in popularity of online shopping, information about our credit cards are bound to end up on the internet. Something you should always keep in mind is to share as small of an amount of this personal data as possible, and refrain from ever distributing it to people, sites or institutions online that you aren’t 100% familiar with or trust. Protect your passwords at all costs and always use safe internet connections, as hackers might be able to extract personal data from your devices if you are not careful enough.

Secure shopping

Closely connected to the previous point are the risks posed by online shopping. Although this activity is extremely convenient, especially in unprecedented times like this, the threats are just as easy to come across. Be sure to always shop from verified and secure online stores, never give out credit card information on a website that isn’t endorsed by a big, well-known online payment processor or bank. There are obvious signs (such as ‘http’ instead of ‘https’ in the link) that might strike you upon coming into contact with a website that is a scam, and in these cases, leave it as fast as you can. These usually try to lure people in with unbelievable discounts and prices, and can look quite convincing at first, so constant vigilance is advised.

Watch out for scams

Scams are probably as old as the internet itself, because there have always been people who want to take advantage of the naivety and innocence of others, and always will be. Members of Gen Z are instinctively more confident and familiar on the internet, making them far less susceptible to online scams. It can happen to anyone, however, and it is also advised to inform family members, especially those who are older (and much younger) about the danger of online scams, making it sure that less people fall for these dubious tricks.

Antivirus and VPN

There are several programs and built-in features that are designed to keep you safe from the internet’s hazards. Having the latest version of browsers, antivirus programs and operating systems greatly reduces the risks of falling victim to any of them, as these are usually equipped to protect your personal information and provide security. VPN services have also become very popular in recent times, as they are a great tool to use when you want maximum protection on the internet. Virtual Private Networks can secure your connection to networks and protect your activity from those who might try to abuse their access to it. It also masks your identity and location, giving you an advantage over data-miners and similar objects on the web. VPN services usually cost money, but it might be a good choice to invest if you spend a lot of time on the internet to conduct more important business than just surfing.

Safe surfing!

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  - Emily Brontë


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