There is an increased overreliance on the internet in the modern age. People use the internet to browse through social media, attend online classes, remote work, read news, and get all forms of entertainment.
The increased internet usage hit extreme heights during the pandemic and post-pandemic era as eCommerce and remote working took center stage.
According to internet live stats, there are over 5.2 trillion internet users today. Data from Wikipedia also shows that as of 2018, there were 81 internet users per every 100 people on the global scale. See more details about this report on the graph below.
However, the widespread use of the internet does not amount to its overall understanding.
As much as the internet brings lots of benefits to the users, it is also home to evils that range from cybersecurity threats, trolls, cyberbullying, stalks, violent images and videos, addictions, and fake news, among others.
Take the instance of a 19-year-old running for public office in New Hampshire who learned a lesson about the need for safe surfing on the internet.
His opponents pulled out sexually suggestive images from his social media posts and used them to reference past drug abuse. And just like that, his political career crashed even before takeoff.
This might be one in millions of cases that expose the rot on the internet. The Center for Strategic and International Studies recently published a list of significant cybersecurity incidents in the recent past.
Indeed, there is a need for safe surfing education. This article explains some of the things you must avoid while surfing the internet.
1. Avoid Giving Too Much Personal & Sensitive Information
One of the biggest mistakes you will make while surfing the internet is giving too much personal information. Most users often think that giving every detail about themselves will add value to prospects.
So they go ahead to display their relationship status, age, health records, and place of birth, among others.
But your prospects, customers, or employers do not require to know your relationship status, so you do not have to give such details.
Instead, stick to what is relevant such as your expertise and professional life. The less you give, the safer you will be.
2. As Much You Can, Avoid HTTP Websites
Before clicking on any website, you must first check its URL link. Web pages that start with HTTP are a red flag. On the contrary, HTTPS websites prove validity and authenticity.
There are two significant reasons why the HTTP/HTTPS factor matters when surfing the internet. First, HTTPS websites are secure because of their encryption capabilities.
HTTPS website has installed SSL Certificates that ensure the safe transfer of sensitive data between your browser and website servers. With SSL Certificates, attackers can never access your data.
You are not ready to expose your sensitive data to cybercriminals by visiting insecure websites.
Secondly, HTTPS sites act as proof of legitimacy. Before a certificate authority issues the SSL certificate, the Certificate Authority will first need to establish whether or not the organization or individual requesting the certificate is genuine.
The CA will not issue the certificate if it doubts the authenticity and validity of the individual/company. An HTTPS site proves that you are not visiting a hacker’s website after extorting money and data from you.
3. Never Turn Off Your Privacy Settings
Digital marketers will love to know as much as possible about you, and so do the hackers. Through your social media browsing and social media usage, marketers and hackers can see a lot about you.
However, network applications and websites allow you to take charge of your information by protecting your online privacy.
Furthermore, social media platforms such as Facebook will enable you to control what you want other people to see through privacy-enhancing settings.
However, some of these settings might be deliberately hidden because applications want your personal information for their marketing value. As a best practice, ensure you find these settings and enable them.
4. Avoid Using Unsecured Internet Connections
Wireless connections are significant culprits that could potentially harm internet surfing. According to research by Avast, over 79% of home WiFis are at risk of cybersecurity attacks.
When you go online on public WiFi, you lose control over your internet security. The most vulnerable endpoint on WiFi connections is your local internet connection.
It is always important to avoid using public WiFi when surfing the internet. But if you cannot prevent it, you should consider enhancing your security by using robust passwords and a virtual private network.
5. Avoiding Downloading Suspicious Apps and Attachments
One of the primary goals of hackers is to trick users into downloading malware programs, attachments, or applications containing malware.
They will disguise the attachment as a legitimate app or software and lure you into downloading it.
The best strategy here is to avoid downloading attachments from sources that look suspicious. Instead, you can take it upon yourself to confirm the authenticity of the attachment before proceeding with the download.
6. Avoid Using Weak Passwords
According to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, over 80% of successful data breaches result from weak passwords.
Indeed, passwords have been termed one of the most fundamental cybersecurity protocols to protect your accounts from malicious attackers and cybercriminals.
However, despite their significance, most people still hold to unsafe and weak password practices that put them on the edge of cyberattacks. Good passwords must be complex, lengthy, and unguessable.
The more complex and lengthy a password is, the better it ensures a safe browsing experience.
Apart from passwords, I highly recommend using the extra authentication layer- two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication leverages additional authentication features to enhance the authentication process.
With 2FA, even when a hacker succeeds in bypassing your passwords, your account will remain secure because the hacker will lack the second authentication factor.
7. Be Careful With What You Post
The story of the 19-year-old candidate from New Hampshire teaches us that the internet does not have a delete key.
Any copies, comments, and posts you post online will remain online forever because deleting the original copy will not delete other copies that people have made.
So, there is no way you can take back a remark or comment you wish you had not posted.
Similarly, there is no way you can take back an embarrassing selfie you wish you had not made. In a nutshell, avoid posting things you would not want your parents or employer to see.
8. Do Not Turn Off Your Antivirus Software
Antivirus software is vital because it helps scan your network and detect and remove impending viruses and malware.
Therefore, they help provide an extra security layer to protect your system from malware attacks.
It is in the best interest of your web application and data that you keep the malware software running because you never know when hackers will come knocking.
9. Avoid Using Old or Outdated Software and Operating Systems
The infamous Equifax breach that occurred in 2017 is an excellent example of why it is important to keep your software updated.
The breach resulted from a software vulnerability that a software update had addressed released a few months before the attack.
Software upgrades are necessary because they address security vulnerabilities in previous versions. As a best practice, you must ensure you conduct software updates frequently.
The global increase in internet usage has attracted many vulnerabilities. Today, the internet is considered an unsafe place to stay. It is an abode for hawk-eyed hackers, cyberbullies, fraudsters, and stalkers.
As such, safety is of great essence when surfing the internet. You must avoid several things if you want to stay safe on the internet.
This article has explained some of the things we should avoid when surfing the internet.