Using the Internet more securely (Part 1) – An introduction to using the internet safely when you’re away from home

How many times do you turn on the news only to learn about another data breach at a major corporation? Someone hacked into their network and obtained private information about millions of people.

Do you wonder sometimes if someone would try to hack into your system or steal confidential information from you? After all, you’re just one individual. Major corporations are targeted for attack because of all the information or data that’s potentially available to the hacker. Individuals are targeted en masse. Hackers look for people who leave themselves vulnerable – a laptop that has minimal security protecting it, an unsuspecting person browsing the web who has little knowledge about viruses or a tablet that’s been left on the restaurant table while the owner approaches the buffet table.

Nowadays, most people, when they’re away from home, connect to the Internet over a wireless network – the one at the local coffee house, the airport, or maybe the hotel they are staying at. In most cases, these networks are unsecured where hackers, with easily obtained tools, can steal the information you send over the Internet or gain access to your device and all the information contained on it unless you protect it and your transmissions.

Think about it for a second. What information could a person obtain from your web browsing, e-mails and such? What if they obtained your credit card information or compromised your personal information. What if you’re on vacation and you have to contact your credit card company about canceling your card and obtain another one. Do you have the company’s contact information? How will you contact them – by phone? Do you have their local number for the country you’re traveling in? Their 800 number will not be a toll free call from a foreign country. So, how much will this cost you in just phone charges? How long will this take you to clear up? How long will it take to get a replacement card? Do you have a way to pay for your next meal or even your hotel bill in the meantime? You’ll probably get it all sorted out in time, but do you really need this aggravation when you’re on vacation and just looking for a little rest and relaxation?

Accessing the Internet in public is much different than connecting to it in the privacy and security of your home. Your Internet network at home is most likely a more protective environment than you’ll find at the airport or the bed and breakfast in Thailand you’re staying at. Wherever you go, you’ll most likely be using an “unsecured” wireless network to connect to the Internet.

Are you taking the precautions to protect yourself? Do you even know what precautions to take? It would be a shame if you’re not utilizing the security precautions available on your device. It’s not rocket science. It’s pretty easy to give yourself a good level of protection.

With the Internet and the devices used to access it constantly changing, the risks you face and the options for protecting yourself seem to be a moving target. How do you keep up with best practices? Whether you like it or not, it’s your responsibility to keep up to date with this information? No one’s going to do it for you.

Take a few minutes, each day this week, and follow my Weeklong Series and learn how to “Use the Internet More Securely” from the experts in this area. Some of these tips might just be the reason you stay out of harms way when you’re browsing the web while you’re sipping your favorite drink at the local coffee house. At the very least, it will be a great refresher course.

Over the next six days in this weeklong “Using the Internet Safely and Securely” series, I’ll:

  1. Identify many of the risks that you face when you are using the Internet away from home – whether you’re at the local Starbucks or halfway around the world in a small bed and breakfast.
  2. Tell you how to prepare your devices before you leave home
  3. Show you how to browse the web more securely
  4. Provide a list of good Internet browsing habits regardless where you’re connecting
  5. Discuss how you can secure the information contained on your phone, tablet or laptop
  6. Indicate how to secure your device

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Until then, have a great day.

Be sure to read the next article What Are the Risks You Face When Using a Wireless Network Away From Home, which is Part 2 of our weeklong series Using the Internet More Securely.

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