Whether you are banking online, checking your email, or using a social networking site; there are many things to be cautious of while using the internet. The last thing you want to deal with is someone stealing your password or possibly even stealing your money or your identity. In order to protect yourself, there are many things you can do. We think it's better to be safe than sorry, because it's a lot easier to prevent the problem than to be thrown into a situation where you are frantically trying to get your life back.

Tips to Protect Your Online Accounts and Data

Make Sure Your Computer is Protected

using firewall on computer

The most important thing you should do before even going online is have some sort of firewall and security software installed on your computer. Make sure your security software includes protection against spam, viruses and spyware.

Double check that your computer is running the latest version of security currently available. This can be done by either manually checking for updates or changing the settings on your software so that it will do this automatically for you.

Also Check : Keeping Your Personal Computer Secure : 7 Security Questions You Need to Ask

Be Careful What You Download, Click and/or View

While it can become easy to think of the internet as a safe place if nothing off the wall has ever happened to you; it's always a good idea to think twice before downloading anything, clicking on links or even going to certain websites. While it's impossible to be 100% sure if something is safe or not, do your best to keep away from things that seem suspicious.

If you receive an email (for example) that says, "Click Here to get a free computer" or "You have been selected as the grand prize winner of a brand new car", it's always a good idea to stay away. Do not even open the email because this can automatically download a virus without you even realizing it and steal information from you.

If you are signing up for a service, online contract or website where you are going to share the sensitive and personal data then, try to look if it is having the electronic signature feature or not. Electronic signatures are safe to use and to share your details.

Basically, think of everything on the internet as you would in real life. If someone were to walk up to you and say you had been selected to win something, would you hand them your ID, social security number or passwords? Probably not. Protect yourself online as you would offline and you should be golden.

Also Check : Top 5 Free Antivirus

Use a Network You Trust

While using public internet networks can provide you with the same amount of access you have at your home secured network; it can prove to be troublesome. These types of networks are very easy for someone to hack into and sometimes your information may be extremely easy for anyone on the network to access. When first connecting to a public network (if you must), make sure you let your computer know it's public; this way your computer is going to change its settings to make it a little bit tougher for people to get their hands on your personal information.

When Using Public Computers

How to Protect Your Online Accounts

As much as we hate to admit it, public computers; no matter their location, can be dangerous. People can easily put spyware on a computer at your local library, for example, and get quite a bit of information about you such as your name, passwords, phone numbers or banking information.

If you absolutely need to use a public computer, be careful what you are viewing. It is best to save certain things for when you get home. If you can avoid it, do not check your online banking account while on a public computer and if you do, it's never a bad idea to go home and change your password just to be safe. The same goes with your email, Facebook or anything else you may be doing.

Also Check : Tips For Safe Online Shopping

Steps to Protecting Yourself in Public

Worried about potential spyware? You can use the site Webroot.com as a way to scan for spyware before you do anything personal on the public computer. Also, pay attention to those around you. Sometimes we are so caught up in the task at hand that we do not realize the potential dangers. Make sure no one is looking over your shoulder and possibly getting personal information from you.

Selecting a Great Password and Protecting It

Too many people create passwords that are too simple for people to guess. Think about what type of information you have about yourself online, or what people know about you. If you have pictures of your dog everywhere, then do not use your dog's name as your password. This is going to make it extremely easy for people to figure out. Come up with something that is tough to figure out, yet easy for you to remember. Try to incorporate numbers, letters and both lower as well as upper case letters. The trickier your password, the less likely you are to getting hacked into.

Also Check : HOW TO : Choose A Secure and Strong Password?

Do Not Share Your Password with Others

how to choose the strong password

No matter how much you think you can trust someone, do not make the mistake so many people around the globe do; do not give anyone your password. What if the person loses your password and someone else finds it or you have an argument and they decide to use the information against you? This isn't meant to scare you but things like this happen all the time.

Update your passwords frequently

Many people change their passwords at least twice a year. Even updating all your passwords once a month wouldn't hurt. This is going to greatly decrease your chances of someone being able to get a hold of them. Also, do not have your passwords the same on every website you are a member of because then if someone is able to figure out how to get into one of your accounts, they instantly have access to all of them.

Also Check : 5 Tips For Using Social Media Safely

PayPal: A Great Way to Protect Your Money

For millions of people around the world, PayPal is a great way to access your money. You can receive money from others without needing to give them anything more than your email address. Signing up is fast, simple and completely free.