Avoiding Cyber Predators

How to Stay Safe Online

ISeveral finger printsn this digital age, more and more of the work we do is done in the cyber world. But while this is more convenient for us, it also makes it easier for hackers, phishers and social engineers to get a hold of your personal information. Use these tips to ensure your information stays under lock and key, and away from cyber predators:

  1. Create strong passwords.  You want to create passwords that are difficult for cyber predators to hack. Use a combination of capital letters, numbers and special characters to make a complex password. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and passwords that are easy to hack (such as your last name or birthday).

  2. Be on the lookout for phishing scams. Today’s hackers have gotten a lot more sophisticated, and can easily craft an email that looks just like it came from a trusted source. If you receive an email that asks you to share or verify any personal information, is chock full of spelling errors and/or uses a domain that looks “phishy,” look the other way. Remember, cyber predators can only bait you if you respond.
  3. Be on your guard when shopping online. One of the beauties of the Internet is online shopping. But this 21st century convenience can spell disaster for your finances if someone gets ahold of your information. If you do find yourself wanting to make a purchase online, make sure the vendor you’re dealing with is known and reputable. If you have your suspicions, use a third-party payment processor such as PayPal or Google Checkout instead of giving your money directly to the vendor. Also check to make sure the vendor’s payment form url begins with “https:”, this means the url is encrypted and can prevent a hacker from getting access to your information.

  4. Be careful what you download. When you download an application from an unknown source, you risk loading malicious malware onto your computer. Cyber predators will sometimes hide malware in seemingly benign applications, leaving you open to an attack. Unless the download comes from a trusted source, think twice before downloading it.

  5. Use your own computer. Always use your own computer if you’re going to be doing anything like checking your bank account or making an online purchase. If you use another computer, you have no way of telling how secure the connection is, or the types of securities it has in place. You also run the risk of the computer being hardwired with malware or spy software, leaving your personal information free for the taking. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to use a different computer, always delete any temporary files and clear the browser history when you’re done.

Cyber predators may be on the prowl, but if you take the appropriate steps you can stop them dead in their tracks. Follow the tips above, and you can surf knowing your information is safe and secure!