Secure Cyberspace: 4 Pointers for Working Online
The internet is a central feature of modern life, and with good reason. It’s a seemingly endless source of information and entertainment. If you’re considering taking charge of your own future, the internet also provides many work opportunities, such as free-lancing, blogging, and e-commerce. But the internet can also be dangerous with its growing subculture of hackers and scammers. Here are some important steps to staying safe while you work online.
Anybody can hack your internet accounts if they can guess your password. Always change default passwords that are provided to you. Simple passwords are easier to remember, but also easier to guess. Strong passwords include a random mix of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and special symbols. Come up with scrambled but meaningful phrases that are easy to remember. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts, and change your passwords every few months.
Most people sooner or later will download useful apps they come across on the internet, especially if they’re free. But most scams work by pretending to be great deals. Even if the app works well, it may be bundled with things you didn’t want, like adware, or potentially dangerous code like spyware. Before you download, read the fine print. Take the time to open another page and Google the site name. If anything at all looks suspicious, don’t take the chance.
Phishing scams are common, which pretend to be from trusted sites like PayPal or Amazon, but are really trying to trick you into divulging account information, passwords, or debit or credit card numbers. Never click on a link, visit a URL, or even open an email that looks suspicious. Use separate emails for your work and personal activity. If you have or can get filters for your email accounts, use them. This helps prevent email scams from making it to your inbox. Check out sites like Top 10 Jungle for information on current scams going around.
Be certain that you have anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, encryption, and firewall software in place. There’s no such thing as too much protection, and it won’t slow down today’s computers. Be sure to keep your software current with new updates that are released to counter the latest threats. Never share any purchase information with a site that isn’t SSL-protected.
You’ll find some amazing opportunities online, from free blogs to college degrees. But it could also be catastrophic if you don’t take steps to protect yourself.