Being online has multiple risks - identity theft, sexual harassment, credit card fraud, computer damage, etc. - but with these safety tips for the Internet, individuals can feel secure as they surf.
Using the Internet
With many different threats becoming greater concerns to computer users, some people may decide to stay off the Internet altogether. This is a classic overreaction, however, and there are many tools available online that can be completely safe and valuable. The Internet lets users check local and distant weather, catch breaking news updates, shop from the convenience of home, share messages, files, and photos, research an infinite number of topics, stay connected to family members and friends and more. From kids to teens to adults, the Internet is a valuable tool for all ages and these safety tips are designed to maximize that value while minimizing personal risks.
Safety Tips for the Internet: From Logging On to Logging Off
For proper Internet and computer safety, users should follow safe practices at every stage of computer use - from the moment the computer is turned on until it is turned off.
Internet safety begins with a safe computer and a safe way to access the Internet.
- Install protection software on all computers that will access the Internet, including spam blockers, anti-virus programs, pop-up blockers and firewalls.
- Create different profiles on an Internet-connected computer to protect personal information for each user.
- Choose secure passwords that are a combination of letters and numbers, and do not share passwords with unauthorized users.
- Avoid using the same passwords for multiple accounts.
- Set parental controls and filters if available to screen questionable Internet content.
Surfing the Internet
Once users are online, some simple safety tips can keep both a computer and the user's personal information secure.
- Only visit reputable Web sites rather than personal pages from unknown individuals.
- Use only one credit card for online shopping to avoid exposing multiple cards to fraud or theft.
- Monitor children's Internet usage including the sites they visit and how long they are online.
E-mail, Chatting and Messaging
Sending and receiving e-mail and instant messages can make a computer user vulnerable, but these safety tips for the Internet can help keep accounts protected.
- Report and delete any spam messages.
- Avoid e-mail scams that ask for money, credit card information or other personal details.
- Do not give out e-mail addresses indiscriminately.
- Do not open e-mails with unexpected attachments or from unknown senders.
- Choose an anonymous username if possible to avoid identifying details such as age, school, gender or location.
- Observe proper online etiquette when chatting and report offensive behavior to chat moderators or other authority figures.
- Do not send pictures to unknown individuals.
- Properly log off accounts when using a public or shared computer to avoid unintentionally giving another person access.
- Never agree to meet anyone in person whom you've only met online.
What looks like an innocent file download may actually be a virus or other damaging program, but proper Internet safety can help users avoid troubling downloads.
- Only download from reputable, authorized sites.
- Run a virus inspection program prior to installing or using any downloaded files.
- Limit the amount of downloads to minimize potential risks.
- Install and uninstall programs properly to keep the computer running smoothly and efficiently.
Your Own Space
- Choose a username without identifying details.
- Limit personal information in a profile and avoid too many details that can help someone uncover an identity.
- Do not use a child's full name for a domain or user page.
- Opt to keep a profile or other personal information private if possible.
- Avoid posting questionable material or pictures that could be seen by employers or other authority figures.
- Report offensive behavior and vandalism to the appropriate authorities.
- Do not put a personal Web address in an e-mail signature that may be forwarded to many people.
There are many ways to use the Internet as an effective and efficient tool as well as a great social liaison, but all computer users should heed the proper safety tips for the internet to ensure their online behavior does make them vulnerable to fraud, theft or other criminal acts.