Some people see the web as a digital frontier full of exciting opportunities and chances to meet new people and learn about crazy new things.
For others, the Internet is a very scary place — a Wild West fraught with danger and sneaky hackers set on making off with credit card numbers and banking information. And it’s true — there are crooks out there.
That’s why it’s important to protect your privacy when using the Internet. Following these four basic strategies can ensure that your web surfing experience is a safe one.
First, use malware protection software that clearly highlights websites with bad reputations. Here’s the advantage: whenever you complete a search using Google, Bing or some other search tool, the sites that are safe will be carefully separated from the sites that could result in your personal information being leaked to hackers. Most security software products will openly advertise this feature if it’s included.
Second, use a different login name and password for every single service you use online. Then, download or purchase a software tool (such as “KeePass“) that protects this information and keeps track of all of your different login details. It might sound complicated, but it’s actually really simple to use this method. And if anyone ever hacks into your Gmail account, you’ll know that they can’t use that same information to access your Facebook or bank accounts.
Third, be careful what you put out there. Don’t attach your name to anything unless you’re comfortable with a hacker, angry ex or boss using it against you. That means locking down social networking profiles so that only your closest friends can view pictures of that beer pong party that somehow resulted in everyone getting bikini waxes.
Finally, set strong passwords on all of your accounts. ‘Password123′ and ‘Pword’ are easily guessed by hackers. Don’t use your name, your home city or your favorite sports team. In fact, don’t use whole words at all — instead, try a combination of letters and words that will be easy for you to remember but tough for a stranger to guess.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll feel a whole lot safer venturing into the World Wild West.