How to Stay Safe and Secure Online
The Internet has changed the way we live for the better. A wealth of information, or a listening ear, is never more than a click away. There’s a downside to such availability, however, with privacy being compromised by criminals taking advantage of this new avenue for crime.
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to choose a strong password, introduce you to the WhiteHat Aviator browser and explain the difference between a secure and an unsecured website connection to help you stay safe when surfing the web.
Choose a Strong Password
Choosing a strong password is crucial to keeping your private information, well, private. What constitutes as a strong password, however, is debatable, although the following guidelines are generally considered to be of good practice.
- Create a password that has a eight characters or more
- Include numbers, punctuation and symbols to strengthen the password further
- If the password is case-sensitive, use a combination of upper and lowercase characters
- Avoid using personal information such as a name, location or birthday
- Never use the same password twice
Remember, the longer the password, the more secure it is likely to be, so take your time to choose a password that is both memorable yet of a reasonable length. Additionally, change your password every 30 to 180 days in order to limit exposure to misuse.
If you're having trouble remembering a new password, enlist the help of a password manager such as 1Password or LastPass. Not only will a password manager securely store an ever-growing password collection, it can also be used to generate a strong password for each website, too, leaving you safe in the knowledge that every password you enter is virtually bulletproof against attack.
For more information regarding password managers, read the tutorial Remembering Just One Password is Easier and Safer.
Ensure the Connection is Secure
Before entering any private information online, ensure that the URL, Uniform Resource Locator , of the website you are accessing has HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) displayed in the address bar of the browser, instead of HTTP.
HTTPS indicates that the website you are viewing has a secure connection, therefore rendering it safe to enter your debit or credit card number. HTTP, on the other hand, is deemed unsecured, meaning that your data is vulnerable and may be intercepted by a third party.
Considered to be the most secure web browser around, WhiteHat Aviator was developed with online safety in mind, blocking advertisements and invasive tracking software by default to maximise your privacy.
While browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are secure to use, WhiteHat Aviator takes Internet privacy to another level entirely by destroying every trace of your browsing history at the end of each session in order to prevent unwanted access.
Additionally, WhiteHat Aviator uses open-source Chromium code, meaning you can add any Chrome extension to the browser for a more enhanced experience, making it an excellent solution for those looking to up their online privacy yet still have a modern and fully-featured web browser.
Beware of the Scammer
Although it is certainly a nice thought that a complete stranger would like to send you a large sum of money after only exchanging and email or two, chances are that you are the potential victim of an Internet scam.
Furthermore, scammers are now impersonating businesses such as popular online payment service PayPal, for example, to trick you into entering your username and password via their own server, granting them access to your name, address and bank account information, which is a process known as phishing.
While it may seem like an official email from your bank at first glance, look closer and you will most likely find that the message itself is littered with incorrect spelling and grammar, broken images and illegitimate hyperlinks.
To identify whether an email is legitimate or not, simply click the name of the sender and check the address that the email originated from. If in doubt, enter the website URL into your browser manually rather than clicking the hyperlink provided, and remember to report any spoof emails you receive to the company it is impersonating to help combat fraud.
Create an Offline Backup
iCloud is a convenient way of backing up your data without having to lift a finger but no online service is immune to an attack and so it makes sense to create an offline backup of your data incase of said attack or in the rare event that the server is experiencing downtime and you need to access your work.
Invest in an external hard drive to keep your data safe and establish a solid routine of regularly backing up your work.
Whilst on the subject of iCloud, refrain from uploading personal information such as a copy of your bank statement and other private files to the Internet for safe keeping—just in case!
In this tutorial, I have shown you how to choose a strong password, introduced you to the WhiteHat Aviator browser and explained the difference between a secure and unsecured website connection to help you stay safe when surfing the web. If you have a question regarding Internet security, ask it in the comment section below.