How to stay safe online: tips and advice

We live in a fast evolving world. We surround ourselves with the technology to make our life easier every day. While in the past it would cause a great amusement, today we don’t even blink an eye when seeing someone hanging on their device, being online at any place, any time. The Internet became a common part of our lives, yet many of us are not completely aware of threats awaiting there.

We should never underestimate the value of our privacy, as it is easy to lose and hard to get it back. As Gary Kovacs said: “Privacy is not an option, and it shouldn’t be the price we accept for just getting on the Internet.”

With the purpose to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices, on January 28 we celebrate Data Privacy Day. National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is one of the biggest organizations encouraging all Internet users to be more vigilant about practising safe, online habits. Here are general tips & advice suggested by NCSA:

Keep a Clean Machine

  • Keeping your device clean involves keeping the security software current. Make sure you have the latest security software, web browser and operating system. That’s the best defence against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  • Protect all devices connecting to the Internet. Not only computers, but also smartphones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices need protection from viruses and malware.
  • USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Scan them with your security software to stay safe!

Protect Your Personal Information

  • Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email or banking. Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code on your device.
  • A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love sci-fi movies.”).
  • Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. Try at least separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.

Connect With Care

  • Links in emails, social media posts and online advertising are favourite ways how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.
  • In case of Wi-Fi hotspots, limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
  • When banking and shopping, check if the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.

Own Your Online Presence

  • Value and protect your personal information. Information such as your purchase history or location has value just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps and websites.
  • Be aware of what’s being shared. Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.
  • Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it could be perceived now and in the future.

In recent years, data protection became a hot topic, largely thanks to data leaks in big companies you could hear about from media. European Union responded with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – a regulation with an intention to strengthen and unify the data protection for all individuals inside EU. That’s another indicator how valuable our data is. Let’s not forget about that!


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