The virtual world presents plenty of potential dangers to those who are not familiar with online safety and privacy concerns. Some choose not to use the Internet for things like shopping or social media at all for fear that they may end up compromising their personal lives or having their identity or financial information stolen. However, there are various straightforward steps that you can take to help protect your personal and financial information online allowing you to take advantage of the Web and everything that it has to offer.
Be Mindful of What You Share on Social Media Sites
Social networking has become an inescapable part of everyday lives for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Whether you use it for nothing more than keeping in touch with friends or for sharing your favorite holiday photos, social media still presents major privacy concerns. When you post or share something on sites like Facebook, consider it to be open for the entire world to see, regardless of your security settings. Be even more mindful of sharing things relating to others whether it be pictures or a simple post. If you don’t want something to become public or you feel that you might regret it somewhere down the line, don’t share it.
Use Stronger Passwords for Online Accounts
Many people are in the habit of choosing a password, often something as simple as the name of a pet or a date of birth, and using it for all of their online accounts from Internet banking services to email to social networks. Avoid this habit and instead use different passwords, particularly for more important services and those with which you provide financial or personal information. Strong passwords contain both letters and numbers rather than simple words or phrases which are relatively easy to guess or hack.
Use Up-to-date Antivirus Software
Identity theft and other forms of online fraud are often the result of getting malicious software on your computer. While you should never take antivirus software for granted, no matter how good you think it might be, it is always important to have an up-to-date security solution installed and running in the background on your computer at all times. There are both paid and free solutions, although the freeware Microsoft Security Essentials for Windows 7 and the improved Windows Defender software that ships with Windows 8 are adequate for most. Ensure that any antivirus software is allowed to automatically update itself as new updates are released.