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10 Internet Tips to Keep You and Your Family Secure

Family security is important to you and we know it.

We can use it to learn, stay connected with friends and family across the globe, conduct business affairs, access information on any subject imaginable in seconds…the list goes on. But the internet can be a very overwhelming and scary place to navigate.

There is lots of bad stuff out there like malware, scam artists, identity theft/fraud, and more. So, how can you and your family be safer while browsing the internet?

Here are 10 internet tips to keep you and your Family secure:

1) Update Your Computer and Keep it Clean

Keep your computer updated with antivirus software at all times. You might not realize that new viruses will appear every day, so you must update your antivirus software regularly. It’s best practice to update both your operating system (i.e., Windows updates) and your antivirus software (i.e., Norton, McAfee).

Get rid of any software that you don’t use anymore. Computers can become slow when cluttered with apps and files you don’t need, so keep them streamlined to increase the productivity of your device’s speed!

If you do not know if an app is safe or not, look at reviews on the internet or contact someone who knows before installing anything new on your device.

2) Watch Out For “Phishing” Scams

Scammers will create fake websites that look like the real thing to steal personal information such as usernames, passwords, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers. Use an up-to-date browser and type in the web address of the site rather than following a link from an email.

Phishing scams will often come through emails claiming to be from well-known companies like Netflix, Windows, or billing departments from financial institutions (i.e., banks, credit card companies). The emails will most likely ask for personal information or have a link to click on. If you are not expecting an email from that company, do not open it or click on the link inside of it.

3) Be Careful Who You Give Personal Information To

Just because someone claims to be providing free stuff (magazines, contests, etc.) does not mean they are legit. 

You should not give personal information to anyone unless you know exactly where it is going and why they need it. The rule of thumb is: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

It’s important to teach your family this rule as well. Chances are that even a young child can tell if a solicitation seems fishy or not, so sit down with your family and be sure everyone knows this rule.

4) Change Passwords Often

Having strong password etiquette is important for family security online.

Never use the same password twice, include numbers and symbols if available. Do not share this information with others; change them often and never save them on your computer.

Also, don’t use the same passwords for all of your accounts. This way, if someone does break into one account, they won’t have access to all of your accounts!

5) Beware of Scams on Social Media

Scammers will use social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to create fake profiles, to befriend you to get personal information. This can lead to phishing schemes or identity theft.

Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know, don’t click on links or download attachments from people you don’t know, and remember to report anything suspicious immediately.

6) Be Cautious of the Links You Click On

It is best practice to only visit web pages that you already know and trust. If a link pops up in your newsfeed, be sure to research it before clicking on it as it might lead to a scam website.

If possible, avoid using public computers for important activities such as banking and shopping as there might be keyloggers installed. These are special programs that can harvest your passwords and personal information when typing them in.

This is where using a VPN can come in handy.

7) Use a VPN at Home

A VPN, or virtual private network, will encrypt your data while browsing the internet. This creates a safer browsing connection for you and your family. This is a great way to protect personal information while using public WiFi networks at places like coffee shops and airports. 

If you are on a public network, your sent information is easily accessible by anyone else on that same network, so stay safe! VPNs are great for encrypting your digital identity.

To learn more about how VPNs work, check out this useful guide.

8) Be Aware of Downloads

When downloading files from the internet, avoid opening attachments in emails, even if they appear to be harmless. 

Downloads can contain viruses, so it is best practice to only download items that you trust and know where they came from. Also, go into settings on your computer browser and disable the automatic running of downloaded files, as this will increase your protection against potential viruses.

You can also find malware in torrents and freeware programs. To keep your computer protected, avoid visiting illegal/pirate sites, and use trusted antivirus software.

9) Use Reliable Anti-Virus Software

There are many free or inexpensive quality antivirus programs out there. Make sure your antivirus software is always up-to-date with the latest virus definitions.

It’s also better to have more than one program protecting you, especially if you have a Mac which doesn’t typically come equipped with an antivirus program.

Having something, even if it is a bit cheaper, is better than having nothing.

10) Use Discretion When Posting Online

The easiest way to keep your family secure online is by using discretion.

Don’t post photos or personal information about yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone else to see. Also, beware of the info that others post about you. In a worst-case scenario, people might use this information against you. 

If something troublesome does happen, contact the social media platform to have any personal information or photos removed.

Keep Your Family Secure Today

Using these 10 tips, you can keep your family secure on the internet. The most important part is to be smart about the information you share and always be aware of what you may be sharing.

For more technology tips, check out a few more articles in the Life section of our blog.

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