Being a responsible netizen (that’s short for internet citizen) involves as many common sense precautions as being a responsible home-owner. You wouldn’t leave you door open at night with your laptop on the counter; similarly, you shouldn’t leave your laptop on an unencrypted network with your business spreadsheet and credit card data open on your computer’s desktop.
Web security begins with a simple understanding of what the web is. Put simply, it’s a network, and networks connect different nodes (people) to each other through overlapping pathways (phone and cable lines). That’s great for information you want to be able to send to anyone as efficiently as possible, but it also means that anyone has an efficient route to your electronic front door. You can check our must have free security softwares to make yourself more secure. So first things first, you need a front door: a firewall.
A firewall is an electronic barrier. Just like it sounds, it is not easy to get through. Firewalls are software that can be downloaded and installed for free; many computers come with them pre-loaded. The firewall tells neighbors and visitors to your computer that if they want to get inside they have to have a name-tag and take off their shoes and have brought pie–or an encryption signature.
Once you have a firewall installed, the next step is to use a safe browser. A browser is the software which allows you to interact on the vast network of the internet. It’s like your windows, in a way, because it gives you a vista on the entire world. That’s great, when those windows are triple-paned and have locks. But if you have open windows, your house isn’t very secure. A good browser, like Mozilla’s Firefox browser or Google’s Chrome browser will allow you to access the internet but won’t let the internet access you and your information, at least not without permission. You can also use security addons for firefox to make your browser more secure . I’d give Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser a better grade, but it’s simply such a target for hackers that using it always entails a higher risk.
Ok, you have a front door and windows. How about keys? Did you make extra copies and give them to your friends? Do the fisher-price keys that come with toy cashier sets fit into your locks? Passwords are your keys. You use passwords to enter secure areas, and it is important that your passwords be unique and not over-replicated. Your password, simply put, should be something that only you know and that only you could guess. Also, it should be something that only you would even think of. The most common passwords, like ‘peace’, ‘love’, ‘hope’, ‘mother’, etc. might make you feel good and be easy to remember, but they’re also easy to guess. Check our guide on how to make strong password .
Here’s an example of a better password: Love1984#2!, which is the date you met your second and current husband. It’s long; it has symbols; it has numbers. No one could guess it just by combining a top list of dictionary words. Speaking of passwords, don’t write down your passwords and leave them posted to your laptop or office desk. You should also know about how to protect your passwords from hackers . Having a nuclear-warfare grade key is pointless if you leave it on a park bench. All of your passwords should be stored in an encrypted spreadsheet, loaded into a specialized program, or locked in that safe inside your head.
Here are three other tips for your consideration. Lock your doors by using wireless encryption, set your alarm by keeping anti-virus and security software active and up to date, and don’t invite strangers into your house by visiting dangerous websites or downloading unknown software. Your doors are great, but if you leave them open, they don’t do any good. Having a great computer security system but then browsing over the internet on a wireless network which is not encrypted means that anyone can take a look inside to poke around. If you are a gmail user then you must follow these security tips to secure gmail account .
Free anti-virus and anti-malware software are your alarm system; they will tell you when someone who doesn’t belong has access to your computer and will remove the stuff they left behind. But they only work if you install them, run them, and update them. Check our list of top 10 free antiviruses for Windows 7 and if you happen to be online for most of the times you can also check our list of online virus scanners .
Finally, don’t invite shady characters in. When someone you don’t know sends you an email, or you visit a website that has warnings all over, don’t do it. When you give approval to that software or site to access your computer, to share your info or to run a file on your computer, you have just let danger walk right past all of your precautions.
Web security is as simple as that. You already have the house: get a front door, good keys which you don’t leave lying around, lock the door, install secure windows, get an alarm system and set it, and don’t invite in strangers. That’s it. Common sense will keep you as safe online as you feel inside your danger-free abode. Good luck!
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