Cybersecurity: How to Stay Safe Online

Our lives are becoming more and more digital as time passes. With the advent of new technologies, more data being stored digitally, and the shift from analog to “smart” devices, we are leaving bigger and bigger footprints online.

This has many amazing and wonderful benefits, that we see the rewards of every single day. For instance, you can share data at a moment’s notice through cloud storage. This allows you to quickly transfer and backup files that otherwise could have been susceptible to damage or destruction.

That is, of course, if you have the internet speeds to support large file transfers to and from the cloud storage service of your choice.

Another great benefit of the internet is simply the convenience of being able to do important things digitally. This means you can donate to any charity in the world at a moment’s notice, check up on your relatives across the globe, and even deal with important banking information without having to go all the way out to a branch of your bank.

Nowadays, you can even do government work online. Voting machines are now digital, although not necessarily “online”, and in some countries, you must deal with draft information and correspondences through an official government website.

Heck, everything from grades to bank data, to what you ate for breakfast can probably be found somewhere on the internet.

Because of this, it is important now more than ever to know how to stay safe on the internet. Not just because you don’t want your wife to find out you have been spending too much time on online casino South Africa, but because of the very real danger of having your actual life affected.

So, it is important for anyone who spends any amount of time on the internet to know some essential tips in order to keep safe on the internet. This could not just be about privacy, but possibly the wellbeing of yourself and your family!

Check Your Links

Links are found everywhere you go on the internet. From social media websites to your bank website, to your email. Links are the hallways, gates, and doors of the internet. They are an address that tells your browser where you want to go.

Now, although most links you will come across are more than innocent, that does not mean you should be complacent. There are malicious links you will come across on the internet, and they could have some serious consequences if you aren’t safe about them.

So, there are a few essential steps you can take to stay safe around links on the internet. This is going to be broken up into two categories. The first category is going to be how to stay safe with links on a PC, and the other will be on mobile devices.

Trusted Links

To begin, let us talk about staying safe with links while on your PC. The first thing to do is think logically about the link. Can the source of this link be trusted?

If the answer is yes, then you can probably click the link with no problem. For instance, if your friend sent you a link to the school project you are working on, it is safe to say that you won’t have to worry about him sending you malware.

This can even apply to websites such as Reddit, Instagram, and Facebook. However! When I mean “trusted source” for websites such as these, I am talking about links given by the website itself!

For instance, all the navigation tabs that lead you around the site itself. These links are part of the site! Any links sent by a person, or left in a comment should be considered untrustworthy.

Now, how do you know whether you can trust a link or not? Well, the first step is to read the URL. What does it say? Does the person say they are posting a picture of a cute puppy yet the URL seems to indicate it leads to some website you have never heard of? Don’t click it! It is probably unsafe.

“But Mr. Article Writer Man…” I hear you say, “What if the link is embedded and you can’t see the full URL?” Great question!

On a PC, you can very easily see the full URL of an embedded link. You simply hover your mouse over the link without clicking it. In most browsers, you will see the full URL displayed in the bottom corner of your screen.

Make Sure It Is Correct URL

So, you can now read the full URL and see if it is a site you can trust. If it is, you can feel safe about clicking the link and going about your business.

Now, when reading a URL, you want to pay extra special attention. Sometimes, a link can be very similar to the site you trust but is not the site you wanted.

For example, make sure the URL has the proper domain for the site you wanted to visit. Make sure you are going to Website.com and not Website.net. This is one of the many ways someone can make a link look real when it isn’t.

When it comes to checking links on a mobile device, it is a little bit more tricky. You have no mouse cursor, so you can’t hover over the link to see its URL.

However, there is a way to check the URL without going to the site. All you need to do is touch and hold on the link. This will give you the usual prompts of copying and pasting, but you will also be allowed to “Copy Link Address” or something similar.

So, from here, you can simply paste the link into a search bar or text editor and you can read the link without traveling to the website.

Internet Scam

One of the most common ways for you to get scammed on the internet is through email. You will usually get some sort of really surprising email that will tell you one of a couple of scenarios that you should look out for.

The first and one of the most common is an email saying you have won some sort of prize. All you need to do is send them some money to allow the money transfer to go through and you’ll get a grand prize!

This is, of course, a scam. Nobody is just giving away money, and as the old saying goes, “if it is too good to be true, then it probably isn’t.” Emails like this can simply be ignored and there will be no harm done.

Another kind of scam I’ve seen is one that is meant to scare you. You will get a popup or email saying that your computer has been hacked and you need to click some link to get tech support.

This will either let a virus onto your computer which will do God knows what, or you will actually be put on the phone with a “tech support agent.” This person will simply remote into your computer, pretend to fix the imaginary problem, and then have you pay them.

So, if you ever get a popup saying you have been hacked, or an email saying you have been hacked, you can safely ignore it. This is unless it is from an official email for a company telling you they have had a security breach.

The ultimate thing to know here, is if you ever have a doubt, call whoever the scammers are trying to impersonate. If it is your bank, call your bank through their official number. If it is your internet service provider, call them directly.

IRS Scam

One more kind of scam I would like to talk about is the IRS scam. This is another kind of scam that is meant to scare you out of your sense. Usually, you will get an email saying it is from the IRS telling you that you owe them some sum of money for taxes and if you don’t pay you are going to be arrested.

This is once again, a scam. The IRS would never send you tax information digitally and does everything through Snail Mail. If you really have a serious doubt, then simply call the IRS. If you owe them money, they will probably be more than happy to tell you.

One last thing other than using your sense is that you can check who the sender of an email is just like you can check a URL. When an email is sent, it will say who it is from along with their email address.

So, if the email address does not match who they say they are, then you can rest assured that they are trying to scam you out of your hard-earned cash. Oh, and one last thing. Most professional companies aren’t using a Gmail or Yahoo account. Look for official email addresses.

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