10 Things you need to know before going online
What is common sense and how do you define it?
And the most important question is:
How can you use common sense to keep you safe online from advanced pieces of malware and cybercriminal masterminds?
Though security tools are not to be left aside, without deeper knowledge and understanding of Internet security, going online without protection is like driving a car without a license.
Common sense is vital, so here are the 10 common sense guidelines you need to be aware of before going online.
1. Copyright is important.
The World Wide Web contains various types of content, like music, images, text and so on, that may fall under copyright rules.
Since Internet content is easy to access, we are the impression that we have total freedom online. Nevertheless, there are rules and laws that do not allow using someone’s content without permission.
Have you ever used a text or an image in a certain context? Make sure you give credits to the owner. Usually, as long as you admit and indicate the original owner and location, there should be no problem in using a specific piece of content.
Using content protected by copyright without permission may lead to legal actions against you and could also endanger your credibility online.
2. Be careful when dealing with emails from unknown sources.
Have you ever received an email from an unknown source? Do you frequently receive emails from people you don’t know?
First, don’t trust emails that come from people you never met, especially those that ask you to take an action.
It is not very difficult to spot this type of phishing emails which demand immediate action and contain words like “confirm now“, “take action now“, “discover now“, “pay now”, etc.
To fool the potential victims, the latest trend in cyber crime is to deploy spear phishing attacks, using emails that appear to come from well-known individuals or service providers, such as banks, telecom companies or even the local post office.
How do attackers find out information about your friends or companies you usually deal with? They simply launch an identity theft operation to target and steal your sensitive information.
So, when you receive such an email, make sure you:
don’t reply to the email
don’t click the (malicious) attachment
don’t click the dangerous links in the email that could download malware on the system.
- Don’t click that link or online ad!
It is a link and you want to follow it, no matter whether it is in an email or in a web page.What could go wrong? The answer is simple: a lot of things could go wrong.Just by clicking a link in an email or a pop-up window, you could connect and enroll your system into a botnet network and have your computer used in online attacks and malicious actions that target financial data and personal information.You may think that you are safe from all these dangers because you are using a good antivirus product, but today traditional antivirus protection is not enough anymore and you need additional weapons in the fight against online dangers.
4. It’s a free program, so that’s good, right?
Well, it depends on the program. What do you know about that program? Have you or others used it before? If you are not sure about a software that you want to download and run on your system, just Google it!
You should find some information on that software or, in case it is a malicious software, you should discover users that complain or security programs that have been created to remove that threat.
Another major danger posed by free programs is the additional drive-by downloads that are installed without our knowledge and bring on the system security exploits that target our software vulnerabilities.
Make sure you use a program that automatically updates your vulnerable software applications to save time, effort and to get this issue solved once and for ever.
5. Do not reveal sensitive information online.
It is not easy, especially today when everybody has a social media account and it’s normal to simply go online and comment, blog or share.
And among so much information we make public, we forget that personal names, contact details or private interests are also displayed to unknown people.
As I have already mentioned above, these are the elements that are used to deploy identity theft activities. So, be a bit skeptical about people you meet online and about their intentions. It is a well-known fact we all exaggerate our real lives on Facebook, but sometimes social media dangers may create real issues for us if we add the wrong people to our circle of friends.
6. Keep your credentials for yourself.
Our credentials for online accounts, user names and passwords, are probably the most important pieces of information in the online environment.
For this reason, there is nothing more important than keeping them safe from prying eyes and cybercriminals.
Remember: Even though you may have set a strong password, if you use it more than once and in more than one online account, in the unfortunate case hackers discover it, your other online accounts are in danger.
7. Report illegal activities or offending content.
If you notice aggressive online behavior, like cyber-bullying, hate speech or any form of harassment, do not hesitate to report it immediately to law enforcement officials.
It is much better to take action sooner than later, because it all starts from a simple verbal attack that may develop into something much bigger, especially for a child.
Though it may not happen to you, it doesn’t mean that a friend or a family member won’t be affected by what you choose to ignore.
8. What you post online stays online forever.
We post photos, remarks, location updates and similar content, which we think is only seen by our close friends.
But, from your 200 or 300 friends, how many of them do you actually know?
And you may think that your posts and comments are usually ignored or don’t receive much attention, but they still remain there and you never know when they come back at you. Not to mention the fact that search engines save and classify your content on so many online servers.
To keep it short, follow a few simple guidelines:
think twice before you publish or post it.
will you still feel the same about the content you shared over the years?
could your content affect your personal or professional life in the future?
Stay social, but stay safe.
9. Use antivirus protection BEFORE you go online.
Don’t go online until you have the best antivirus protection that money can buy.
You may think that avoiding adult websites and that sort of thing will keep you safe, but did you know that hackers now hide malicious code even in legitimate websites?
And it’s getting worse! Even if you have a good antivirus product, you may still get infected by advanced malware.
And in this case, you really need the best tools out there.
10. Create back-up copies for your important stuff.
Though you may have all the security protection in the world, disaster may still hit your system and your valuable files.
It may be a system crash, a hard disk failure, a ransomware attack that encrypts your entire operating system or it may be a human mistake.
There are so many reasons something may go wrong for you and your sensitive information, even if you followed all the common sense in the world.
Thank you for sticking with me until the end!
There is a strong connection between common sense and knowledge.
If you need to follow a set of security guidelines to stay safe on the Internet, the same thing is valid for common sense online behavior. In the end, knowledge and common sense become the two sides of the same coin: Internet protection.
By Meneh Lekie
Melek Int’l Co.
Cyber Security & Social Media Consultant