Internet Safety Month: Protect Your Future

Internet Safety Month

Did you know that this June 2019 is Internet Safety Month? Would you like to protect your future on the Web? I have been on the Net basically since it started, and certainly since the Web era. On two different occasions I’ve experienced successful attacks. One was an early email phishing attack in which email recipients were enticed to click on a link. This was early days, before such attacks became well known. The consequence? Email addresses that I had interacted with all then received the same request. Since then we have all learned to be suspicious of unsolicited requests to “just click this link.”

The other attack was on the Futurist.com web site itself. This one involved a spoofing attack. Using a flaw in a WordPress plugin, the attacker was able to place a page hidden within the Futurist.com database on the cloud server. This page looked just like a national bank page, a well-known brand, and that page could be sent to email addresses obtained elsewhere by the attacker in order to ask recipients to “confirm their account information.” This attack was noticed by the Bank in question, who contacted the web service cloud company, which took Futurist.com off-line until the hole in the plug-in was fixed. It was an easy fix, the phony page was deleted, and the site was back up quickly. But it was a major lesson in web site safety.

Now, in this blog we offer some advice on staying safe on the net, assisted by some research from a Symantec connection. The future Web will continue to challenge us in terms of maintaining the level of privacy and security that you want. The advice here will be familiar to you – the question really is how often you actually follow these best practices.

Safe Internet Best Practices

We want to highlight the importance of Internet Safety Month. What does this mean exactly? This means that it’s time we address the general concern around privacy on the Internet and how we can modify the way we use the World Wide Web. We’ve compiled some best practices to keep in mind for a safer Internet experience comprising of various categories:

Basic web browsing

  • Always be aware of the websites you’re visiting. Do they have an excess amount of pop-up ads? Are they asking for your email? Or full name? Is the site making your computer speed slower? If something looks unsafe, trust your gut and exit the website immediately.
  • If the website URL starts with https (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) it means you’re using secure communication over a computer network. The communication protocol is encrypted using Transport Layer Security (TLS). However, if a website URL begins with just http, any data could be intercepted by a third-party source. This includes passwords, names, and any other personal information you enter into a website’s fields.
  • Look into using antivirus software. The best way to prevent a cyber attack is to do your research and invest in software that will protect your devices from malware, cyber criminals, and other dangers. I have used many different such tools over the years. Whatever you use, it is critical to keep it up to date.

Mobile Internet use

  • Mobile devices (cell phones, iPads, tablets) are prone to just as many threats as larger devices. This includes malware, spyware, ransomware, phishing, and many others.
  • Be careful of harmful third-party apps. These applications are made by someone other than the manufacturer of the mobile device or operating system. Apple® AppStore and Google Play™ are the biggest app stores users have access to. Both stores are also loaded with millions of third-party apps that could pose risks to your device. Look for apps you know about, read reviews from sources other than the AppStore, and take some time to review the end-user agreement for clues about what the app’s true intentions are.
  • Connecting to a Wi-Fi network may seem harmless, but cyber-crime waits for no one. A mobile VPN (virtual private network) can guard your personal information so other members on the public network cannot view it. This is especially important when you’re logging in to see financial or confidential personal information on a public Wi-Fi network. Securing your internet connection to be private will shield you from potential cyber threats.

Using passwords

  • While many of our accounts have passwords saved, take the time every 3 or 4 months to spruce up your everyday passwords. This should include social media apps, banking accounts, emails, and any other accounts you use on a somewhat daily basis.
  • Never include basic information about yourself in passwords. Stay away from middle names, birthdays, ages, etc. All of that information about you can be found online which makes it easier for hackers to uncover your passwords.
  • At their recent WWDC keynote, Apple announced a new dummy email login system. This means all of your accounts and logins for various websites will appear to be logged in with your Apple ID and password. Your actual email will be received by the system but will also be protected with encryption. Not only does this seem safer, but easier for users to only have to remember their iCloud information versus several other credentials.

Cybercriminals will steal an estimated 33 billion records in 2023. That’s according to a 2018 study from Juniper Research. Don’t let yourself be one of those records…Use some of these best practices and implement them on a daily basis to ensure you’re being the safest you can be while using the Internet.