Common Tips to Stay Safe on the Internet


So several times a month I get the question “OMG.  My Web Browser is slow!  Why is my Internet so Slow?”  along with “Why did my Web Browser give me Viruses?”

I generally have a prepared text file of several items that I just copy and past, but this time I decided to post online my Common Sense Tips to Internet Safety.

Item #1 (AKA “Why did my Web Browser give me Viruses?”)

Ok, so.. No.  Your Browser did NOT give you viruses.  You gave it to yourself.  A PC Virus is the Gift that causes all kinds of hell, all because a User did something risky.  One such thing is (that I hear way to often) I just downloaded Firefox from Firefox.SomeRandomWebsite.com.org.co.uk.tk.  Ok, first of all, I will provide OFFICIAL links to the major 4 Browsers.  Only download a new/existing Web Browser from the Official Website.  That is the safest way to go.  Some sites re-direct to Host servers, and that is good also. (Links Below for the Official Sites of IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera)

Item #2 (AKA “Do I really have to update my Web Browser? It takes So Long! I DON’T WANNA!!!”)

YES. Always update your Web Browser.  If the app shows up with a pop-up, a notification icon, etc, saying “New Version available, Update?” or such, then YES, update.  Unless you are filing for a class-action lawsuit online right then, no matter what you are doing, update your Browser then.  Trust me, Facebook/Twitter/Wherever will still be there after the update is downloaded and applied.  Oh, and make sure after the update is done, restart (that is, close out completely) the Web Browser, and then start it again.  This helps ensure that you are using the newest version.  besides, the latest updates MAY actually help speed up the Web Browsing…

Item #3 (AKA “But I like going to these sites, they have so many good apps for me for free!”)

Ok, Morally, and Legally, Pirating is Wrong.  Having said that, going to suspicious sites of any nature is a bad idea.  Because some sites have code in them that allows for tracking cookies, etc… And really, you don’t want people tracking the Illegal Downloads, or Porn that you are downloading, do you?

Item #4 (AKA “What? Another Virus definition update? I just did one yesterday!!”)

YES. Do Daily Anti Virus updates.  Some OSes REALLY need it (WINDOWS), some are good with casual updating (Mac) and some never even need it (Linux).  If you have Windows then a good Anti Virus should download updates NIGHTLY.  Most allow for scheduling of updates at specific times, saw, when the average human being is asleep (say, 2AM).  Make sure to have this enabled.  Surfing the Web without an Anti Virus is about as bad as using a 10-year-old web browser still, in this modern-day and age.

Item #5 (AKA “I have the same password for all of my sites I go to! I am so secure, teehee!!!”)

Again,  NO.  Every website that you go to should have a different password. Again, let me repeat that. EVERY WEB SITE = DIFFERENT PASSWORD.  This is to keep cracking down on a truly minimal level.  Say your Twitter account gets cracked… Well, yes, they now have the account, but because that account has a different password than all of the other sites that you use,  then those other sites should not be compromised.

Item #6 (AKA “12345  is the best password EVAR!”)

NO. NO NO NO NO NO. Come up with an original password.  Make it atleast 10 chars long. Include Uppercase and Lowercase letters, and also add in “symbols” as some call them.  That is, make sure you have at least one of these in every password. ~!@#$%^&*()_+=  (if the site allows them, some are not allowed)  Pretty much Shift + the number key row is a what you want.  Passwords like how I have just described making cracking almost impossible.

Item #7 (AKA “I will visit my Facebook on this public, un-encrypted, no protection at all McDonald’s WiFi! It will be great!”)

Don’t make me scream “No” again, ok?  Most modern Web Browsers have a “stealth” mode, be it Private Browsing, Incognito, etc…  If you have to log in on an open, un-encrypted public free wi-fi, use that mode.  The Web Browser will cover its tracks for you, meaning that it is harder for people to get your information.  Yes, you MAY have to re-enter that password again, but whats worse, 10 seconds of typing, or having your account stolen?

Item #8 (AKA”Some one emailed me asking if this pic of me, and I don’t know this person. I should so click that link…”)

If you DO NOT know the sender, and it has an email with an attachment (usually represented by a paperclip) or if it has a link in the email, don’t open the email. Delete it. Don’t even preview the email/message.  Some messages have built-in scripts that just upon the Previewing them, can compromise your security by was of a tracker cookie, link bomb, etc…  Again, if you DO NOT know the person, DELETE IT.

Item #9 (AKA “I want to purchase this nice Purse, it’s a Guaranteed Brand Name Item, at NicePurse.omgIwannaRobYou.com! I have to get it!”)

Look at the address bar.  If you are trying to buy something online, and the name seems not to match up (say, getting a Hugo Boss Wallet from Hugo.hacker.org.co.tk), then don’t do it.  A lot of frauds happen because you can easily enough copy a website’s look and feel, put it on a fake website, and profit, because no one ever checks the address bar.  Be Smart, waste 2 seconds of looking at whatever Obviously Fake and Ripoff items up at the address bar.  If it looks suspicious, then it really is.  Leave that site.  Also, newer Web Browsers (that is, in the past 5 years) will notify you if the site is “Secure” for doing transactions.  If the site does not have HTTPS or if it does not use SSL, then leave.  Dont buy anything or send any money. AT ALL.

Item #10 (AKA “Why is this so SLOW?!?!?!”)

Ok, well, several issues come in to play here.  Maybe the Internet Provider is doing something to the system.  Maybe a line is down somewhere.  Odds are, it is nothing that you can do.  The general advice is “clean your cache”.  And while this is good advice, the drawback to this is that cleaning the cache will force the Web Browser to have to re-download the websites from the internet, instead of using the already downloaded cached copy.  However, if the cache gets to large, then it will take longer to search and find the needed site, so yes, cleaning the cache works in this instance.  My advice in the case of a slow-moving website (if it is just one website, and not all of the internet for you) if to press Control + F5 on the problem site.  This tells the site to get just that website new from the internet, replacing it from the cache.  Also, if it is just one site, and not every web site, then that site may be having issues, as updates, new layouts, whatever.  Patience works well on the Internet.

Link to the Big Four Web Browsers (In this recommended order)

Google Chrome – Chrome is almost always the Reining King of Web Speed.  https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/

Firefox – Not quite as fast as Chrome, but it has, arguably, a bigger user-base, meaning more add ons, support, etc…http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/

Opera – The FIRST web Browser to implement “Tabbed” websites, some love this browser, some, well, don’t even know it exists.   http://www.opera.com/

Internet Explorer – IE is usually good and useful for Microsoft websites, and downloading any of the other three web browsers, listed above.   http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/ie.aspx?q=internet+explorer

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