Cyber Security and You: Better Browsing Practices

Image Credit: Nedroid Compizza

The second part of this series will be on internet browsing and protecting yourself from scams as well as misinformation. The internet is a fantastic resource with nearly any service or idea at your fingertips. However, it can also be a very dangerous place, with multiple websites serving as a front for malware. You can protect better yourself by following some of these tips:

1. Update your Browser:
If you want to browse the web, you will first need a web browser. Windows computers come with either Internet Explorer or Edge already installed; whereas Apple computers come with Safari preinstalled. You can also download and use other browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. No matter your preference, make sure your browser is using the latest version available. You can do this by checking the browser’s about page. Look under the help menu, if you have trouble finding it.

2. Useful Add-ons or Extensions:
There are many add-ons and extensions that can help make your browsing experience easier or more secure. Web of Trust is an extension that provides security alerts for suspicious sites and prevents travel to potentially harmful sites as well. However, it is not perfect. Some trustworthy websites are sometimes flagged as suspicious due to previous bad practices or opposing web users. Overall, it is still a very useful tool. Electronic Frontier Foundation’s HTTPS Everywhere enables encryption for most websites. This extension enables the same security protocols that are used to protect your information in store checkout pages. It too suffers from a drawback: sometimes the extension will block some plugins and content that are not malicious.

3. Common Sense:
A little common sense and skepticism can go a long way on the internet. Do not take everything at face value, phishing scams are common as ever. Even the most prepared, and tech savvy can fall for these schemes. Phishing.org has 10 tips to help you avoid becoming a victim. Fake pictures, like sharks swimming down flooded streets, and phony news stories, like reports that The Office television show will be returning in 2018, are as numerous as fireflies in the summer on the internet. Snopes has been a reliable fact-checking source for many years and has a good record of separating fact from fiction.

Whether you are a beginner or an expert at browsing the internet, there is always more to learn. Here are a few selections from our shelves on Internet browsing that might pique your interest:

The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy: Practical Tips for Staying Safe Online by Violet Blue

The Internet for Dummies by John Levine and Margaret Levine Young

“Is this thing on?”: A Computer Handbook for Late Bloomers, Technophobes, and the Kicking & Screaming by Abby Stokes with illustrations by Michael Sloan and Susan Hunt Yule.

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