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Protecting your internet connection is extremely important, especially if you work or perform many of your daily tasks online. With cell phones, tablets and laptops having internet capabilities, people have begun to do all sorts of tasks online. Their lives follow them everywhere. They can perform bank transactions, email friends and family, even watch their favorite television programs. With all of these capabilities it’s incredibly important to think about internet protection. Making sure your internet connection is secure is a must, especially when your devices store all of your personal and confidential information.

The Importance of Passwords

Passwords are used to protect your accounts from unwanted intruders and keep your data secured. A password must be something you can remember easily without using personal pieces of information that can be easily guessed. There are several things that can be included in a password to make them harder to decipher. A few of them are:

  • Including both letters and numbers
  • Including both upper and lower case letters
  • Add symbols
  • Never use the same passwords in a specific rotation
  • Change your passwords frequently

When choosing passwords, it’s acceptable to repeat them occasionally as long as no pattern is established. The rule of thumb with most internet and IT professionals is to change passwords once or twice a month.

Unsecured WiFi

When a person travels away from their home or office, they leave the security of their individual WiFi behind. As they travel, their cell phones, tablets, laptops and other electronic devices pick up signals from other WiFi networks. If the signal is unsecured, the device will pick up the signal and remain connected to it as long as the signal remains strong enough. To avoid this automatic connection, a person must reset their connectivity preference to manual. This prevents the device from picking up open signals that may be used by hackers or scammers.

Unsecured WiFi from fast food restaurants and other public places offers little to no internet protection. If a person plans on using any unsecured WiFi connection, it is in their best interest to put an anti-virus program on their electronic device. Cell phones, laptops and tablets all have the capability of picking up WiFi whenever they come in contact with an unsecured signal. Anti-virus programs are now available for all types of electronic devices and work to protect them just like those that are designed to protect personal computers.

Secure Home Connections

Home networks are open until the owner sets a password. Networks for the home are normally used for personal and private use. Many people store their confidential information on their home computers and laptops. Because of the sensitive nature of much of the information, many home networks are passcode protected using either the serial number of the WiFi router or a personalized password chosen by the homeowner. Anyone attempting to access the wireless network must have the appropriate passkey to gain access.

Home internet connections are not impenetrable. With the right equipment, hackers can override security pass codes and gain access to protected internet connections. It is for this reason that most IT professionals recommend backing up all of a person’s personal and private files on a separate hard drive or set of discs.

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Remove Private Information from the Cloud

Cloud storage has become all the rage, especially for individuals who must store massive amounts of data. Storing information in an offsite location is convenient and frees up storage on a person’s laptop and electronic devices. On the other hand, the third party location can be compromised by hackers and spammers who can infiltrate the cloud and peruse through much of the information that is stored there.

Information that is stored on a digital cloud can remain untouched indefinitely. The main problem with this scenario is that the longer the information remains in the cloud, the higher the risk of it being stolen or hacked. If a person chooses to leave their information stored in a cloud, the best way to protect their personal and private information is to remove it and store it elsewhere. Purchasing a separate external hard drive is a much better option for storing confidential and highly sensitive information.

Keep Your Primary Email Private

Many hackers and spammers will generate mass emails using huge lists of email recipients. Most of these lists are generated through tracking lists that record every website a person visits while surfing the web. One of the ways to make sure an email is protected is to only share it with a small number of recipients, for example, work associates and close family members. When a person is finished checking and sending their emails. They should log out of that account and log into a secondary account that is used for miscellaneous activities.

The primary email can be set aside and used exclusively for online purchases and banking, in addition to private correspondence. Like any other account, the password on a primary email account should be changed at least twice a month to make sure it remains secure. Only use a primary account when sending confidential information. Secondary accounts will be more at risk for hacking if they are used to search the internet on a regular basis.

Purchase An Internet Security Program

One of the best forms of internet protection is anti-virus software. There are several types available online from several different manufacturers. Some are rather basic and just protect the basic systems on whatever device it is downloaded to. Others are quite sophisticated and are capable of scanning existing files, checking emails and blocking viruses that sneak in through attachments or websites. Internet security programs can also contain malware and spyware programs.

Computers are normally sold with an anti-virus program already installed on them. That program, however, can be removed and a different one installed in its place before attempting to connect to the internet. Without an effective anti-virus program a computer or any other electronic device is susceptible to viruses, worms and any other type of malicious file that is lurking in an email or embedded into an attachment.

Avoid Inadvertently Disclosing Private Information

A key factor in internet protection is safeguarding a person’s private and confidential information. Many people divulge private information without even thinking about what they are doing. They include their birthdays, middle initials and various other tidbits of data in passwords, email addresses and screen names. Even security questions can contain important pieces of information that can be used as possible identifiers.

Instead of using personal information, try using the names of favorite authors, books, cars or other items. Many people choose screen names that have to do with their hobbies or things that they like to do. One of the most important things to remember is to never offer private information to new online acquaint or people you don’t know. When ordering merchandise online, always make sure that financial transactions are made over a secured internet connection.

Take Precautions When Surfing the Web

There are several precautions that can be taken when a person surfs the web. One of the first things to do is to make sure to sign out of all email accounts when surfing the web. This means the only piece of information that can be tracked is the computer’s IP address. This also keeps emails from being included on automatically generated lists that marketers buy to use in the promotion of their products

Another precaution that can be taken is relatively new. Search engines will often highlight or rank websites that pull up once a person completes a search. When the symbol beside the name of the website is green, that means there is little risk of a virus or other malicious program being attached or embedded within the site. If the icon is yellow, there is a moderate risk associated with the site. Any icons that appear in red, should be avoided altogether. They have been shown to be high risk and could possibly have sometime of harmful files or programs attached.

Most internet protection software have applications that send out a notification when a website is visited that may have malicious software. A message is displayed that asks if the user wants to continue on to the site, even though there may be a risk of harmful or malicious files. If the website is blocked by a firewall or filter within the anti-virus program this means that something bad was detected and the program has shut the website down before any harm could be done to the device.

Parental Controls

Computers manufactured today also include several parental controls that can be set so children and teenagers are prohibited from visiting websites that contain questionable material. Computers can be set so that everyone who has access to a computer has a separate sign on and password. Depending on who is signed on to the computer, the settings for that user will determine what sites can be accessed.

Tablets have a unique feature in which a parent or guardian can not only determine what type of websites are visited but also how much time can be spent on the device itself. Settings can be easily changed from one user to another, depending on their age. There are also features that can disable instant messaging and video chat options.

Internet protection has turned into a verifiable science of sorts. As technology continues to advance, it becomes increasingly difficult for hackers to break through a system to steal a person’s information. However, for as much as technology progresses, hackers are always only a few steps behind. They can quickly catch up and learn new ways of getting around new features that are designed to protect a user’s personal, private and confidential information.

With today’s ever-expanding use of the internet, people must learn to protect not only their electronic devices but themselves as well. Properly securing their internet connection can mean the difference between keeping every bit of information safe or losing it all to hackers. With all of the technological advances available today ,data can easily be backed up and stored in a secure and protected environment.

Taking the necessary steps to protect your electronic devices fulfills two main objectives. It prevents financial loss both by keeping the device in good working order and protects vital financial information from being lost to hackers and spammers. Secondly, with the device adequately protected and in good working order, parental controls can be used to protect children and young adults from visiting websites that are inappropriate for their age group. This can also prevent unwanted visitors from communicating in any way with children under the age of 18.

Protecting the internet connection that is used to drive the web to a device is imperative if one wants to protect their family and any other individuals who use their network.

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Sources: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2052813/3-essential-techniques-to-protect-your-online-privacy.html, https://www.eff.org/wp/effs-top-12-ways-protect-your-online-privacy, https://www.staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/keep-a-clean-machine/securing-your-home-network

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