We use the internet for almost everything these days. We use it to work remotely, collaborating on projects and sharing files. We use it to entertain ourselves, playing games and streaming media. We use it to learn about the world around us, staying apprised of the latest news and finding educational resources to help us develop our skills.
In other words, the internet has become a common resource, and this is mostly a great thing. It levels the playing field when it comes to information, for instance: anyone who wants to study new topics can do so at no additional cost. But a notable downside of this development is that we all take safe internet use for granted, assuming that we won’t encounter any issues.
In truth, we’re all in danger when we go online. The internet isn’t as safe as we tend to think, and if you want to protect your interests and the privacy of your data, you need to take action. Here are some suggestions to help you make your online activity safer:
Use antimalware software
Malware (standing for malicious software) is, as you’d expect, software that runs on your system without your knowledge and serves to exploit you in some way. Some malware will encrypt local files and require the user to pay to have them decrypted. Other malware will simply slow things down in an effort to push the user to purchase a particular software tool that’s part of the fraud.
Now, because malware can access your system, it can see all the activity that you might try to hide. Due to this, it’s important that you use antimalware software to guard against it. Modern operating systems have such software running by default, but it can be disabled (plus there are various alternatives on the market). To keep your browsing safe, confirm that you have antimalware software running, and consider using a well-reviewed paid service.
Use a VPN (particularly when on Wi-Fi)
To access the internet, the device you’re using requires an IP address, and this address can be used to track your activity if you’re not careful. This is where proxy servers become useful. (If you’re not familiar with them, WhatIsMyIPAddress.com provides information on proxy servers, so read through that guide and come back.) Using a proxy server, you can cloak your IP address so you can use the internet with greater anonymity.
Instead of doing that, though, you should use a VPN, or virtual private network. In addition to cloaking your IP address, it will encrypt all your online activity — and you can even use a VPN while on public Wi-Fi to achieve a safe browsing experience. There are free VPNs out there that can work, but if you want high speeds then you’ll need to invest in a paid VPN service.
Stick to known and trustworthy websites
Regardless of what other actions you take, it’s always sensible to be extremely careful about which websites you visit. Antimalware software (like Malwarebytes) is designed to work in the background to prevent things from getting access to your system without your permission, which is why many websites take the approach of actively seeking your permission (under false pretenses, of course).
Whenever something pops up to ask for your permission, read it carefully, and don’t grant your permission unless you’re absolutely sure that it’s necessary. If you stick to sites you know to be trustworthy, you’ll have a much easier time staying safe. And if you’re ever unsure about something but you don’t know enough about IT to figure out what’s going on, ask for help: you’re sure to know someone who can steer you in the right direction.
Find a suitable IT course to take
On the topic of IT knowledge, one great option that will help you stay safe online and enrich your life is taking a cybersecurity course. There are plenty of cybersecurity course options out there, so you’re sure to find something to suit your available time, budget, and preferences. Do you need to take such a course to be safe online? No, you can do perfectly well by heeding basic suggestions - but just think of how much more comfortable you could be if you really knew what you were doing.