We finish off our cybersecurity mini series with a round up of tips on how to surf the net safe and secure.
Pay attention to site URLs, and avoid clicking on unfamiliar or suspicious links. For example, let's say that you receive an email that contains the hyperlink www.bedrocktech.com, but when you hover your mouse over the link, it shows a slightly different URL: www.bedr0cktech.com. It's highly likely it's a phishing attack. Do not click the link, and delete the email immediately. Even a legitimate business website could be spoofed, take, for example, when Equifax was tweeting out a fake site.
Check a website's connection to ensure it is secure. Look for the lock symbol next to the website address. Alternatively, a secure website will start with HTTPS instead of HTTP. What's the difference? HTTPS is the encrypted and secure version of HTTP. The encryption prevents third-parties from intercepting information. You could also add the free browser extension HTTPS Everywhere for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, which automatically encrypts all of the websites you visit.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when using public WiFi. VPNs create an encrypted "tunnel" where data is transferred. It secures your device's internet connection. While VPN isn't the be-all and end-all answer to cybersecurity, it certainly adds a layer of protection. We recommend that anyone who regularly uses public WiFi consider using VPN. There are free and paid VPN providers.
Consider alternative browsers and search engines. For alternative browsers, you can download Firefox, which doesn't sell your personal information, and more interested in protecting your privacy. Firefox Focus is a private browser for iOS and Android. It won't remember your history and bock third-party trackers. While Google's search results tend to be more accurate, we understand some may be wary using Google or Bing as their search engines. If you need to do a sensitive search, you can use alternative search alternative DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo doesn't track, collect, or share personal information.
Incognito mode isn't private. Incognito or private mode is available on browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Simply put, it doesn't remember your browsing history and doesn't store cookies, however, it doesn't make your browsing invisible. Incognito mode only deletes the search and browsing history on your device. Your workplace, internet service provider, and websites can still track you under private mode.
Make it a habit to log out of your accounts when you're not using them. It's a best practice to log out of accounts and close browsers when you're finished in the event someone gains access to your computer.
While there is no 100% foolproof way to protect yourself online, it's still important to take the tips mentioned above into consideration to keep yourself---and your identity---safe.