Image Credit: Shutterstock
Image Credit: Shutterstock
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In the world today, the number of internet users continues to grow exponentially, not with this ease of executing daily tasks! We shop, pay utility bills, read the news, check on friends and family & even keep track of our health and so much more online. With a greater internet penetration, comes bigger concerns of internet safety among both children and adults. This has necessitated the ongoing dialogue about internet security and internet safety.

Internet Safety has been defined as the knowledge of maximizing the user’s personal safety and security risks to private information and property associated with using the internet. Internet Security on the other hand Internet security relates with security of your browser, network and on a more general level as it applies to other applications or operating systems on a whole. While most talk of internet safety sounds like grave paranoia, people who have had to obliterate horrible experiences of cyber bullying, cyber stalking, online predation and internet scams from their minds know otherwise.

Today we celebrate Safer Internet Day & we want to see to it that we all stay safe while making things happen at a click of a button. Some malware and malicious or criminal websites can be detected by basic instinct or common sense while you might have to look out for some of the following things while browsing the internet;

  1. If an advert flashes on your screen prompting you to go ahead to win or claim a brand new iPhonee6 Plus or some other fancy gadget or shoes. It looks too good to be true, and it probably is. Slow down, before you click!
Image Credit: 4.bp
Image Credit: 4.bp

2. Be wary of websites that are advertised in unsolicited email updates from strangers and even on social media.

3. Roll your mouse pointer over a link to reveal its true destination, displayed in the bottom left corner of your browser. Check that it is not different from what is displayed in the text of the link from either another website or an email.

4. Check for a padlock in the browser window or ‘https://’ at the beginning of the web address to signify that it is using a secure link. “s” stands for “secure”. Without this, do not enter personal information on that website be it a social network or a simple sign-up for a newsletter or some kind prize.

5. If you suspect malicious activity on a website, check for an address, phone number and/or email. If still in doubt, send an email or call to establish authenticity.

6. Beware of “pharming” my simply checking for correct spellings in website’s addresses, for extra words, and make sure the address displayed is exactly what you’re looking for.

7. Beware of websites that hype investments for fast or high return and seek professional advice whenever you plan to transact online.

8. So much can be said about Cookies (files on your computer that store information about you between web browsing sessions, so that you don’t have to sign into sites every time you visit or create quicker searches), and you can read about these in websites’ privacy policies.

9. Protect your gadgets with up to date security software programs like anti-virus before connecting any device to the internet.

10. Endeavor to download and upgrade your browsers as often as you can in order to access the latest security protocols that are inbuilt like the automatic detection of malicious and fraudulent websites.

10.Endeavor to download and upgrade your browsers as often as you can . Image Credit: imgur
10. Endeavor to download and upgrade your browsers as often as you can . Image Credit: imgur

Since the shift from very official use of the internet to its lifestyle approach in our daily lives and the advent of social media, the advancement of cybercrime and an influx of predators online have been realized. This is a call to be cautious about your daily use of the internet especially when it requires you to submit personal data and protect your children too. Play your part.

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  • Dan Atuhaire

    A few more things I would like to add;

    1) Check for and activate any extra security features (aside from the SSL already mentioned) that may alert you in case your profile is in danger of being compromised. These include email login alert for social media sites like facebook, as well sms notifications.

    2) Try to maximize privacy features on any sites that have these options. Again, social media appears to be the biggest culprit here. Some people put their bio-data out there for every Tom, Dick and Harry.

    You go to someone’s profile and they have crucial information like phone number, date of birth, email and their spouses exposed to everyone. Only people you consider close enough should have access to this information.

    3) Certain streaming sites (news, sports) contain multiple adverts that may either be malicious or time wasting. Most of them have an actual option of closing them without necessarily visiting the link (usually masked or shown as a very small “x”), which the hoax close option appears more prominent.

    4) Turn off location update when posting your social media status unless you are travelling to some place you don’t know the place. It may be used by someone trailing you.

    5) Regularly change/update personal security information such as passwords. Social media is awash with a number of applications and games that require the user to supply their passwords. You never know from which application someone will access your password.

    6) Apply strict filtering on your email accounts to avoid running into spam emails.

    7) Avoid using the same password on all the sites you use – email, social media, forum subscriptions etc.

    8) Install and regularly update a strong anti-virus. Regular checks on trending anti-virus ratings may help. There was a time when Avast was the in-thing, then came AVG, f-secure, Kaspersky, Semantic and many others.

    9) Avoid download links that go through 3rd parties. What do I mean? I have seen phones that cannot, for example, do direct Whatsapp installation. So the app (or its update) has to be downloaded via a PC first and transferred via bluetooth before it can be installed on the phone.

    In some instances when a user just types “Whatsapp free download” (as an example), they may land onto some “softonic” site that will require them to download a third party application first. Some are even hoax download links.

    10) Take note of warnings about add-ons that affect some browsers. One example here is Internet Download manager. Some add-ons affect browsing sessions and may temporarily hang or crash a browser. This may happen when one is in the middle of a composing some long email and the person will end up losing their (unsaved) data.