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Tips and Tricks For Staying Safe Online

Feb 11 2014 - 12:39pm

It's Safer Internet Day [1], so we gathered out best tips for keeping your computer and Internet life safe, secure, and totally private all in one place. Nothing is worse than having your digital world hacked into, your personal information stolen, or becoming a victim of fraud. Take charge of your online well-being with these tips and how-tos.

Clear Google Search History

Your Google account is integrated across all of the web giant's many online properties. If you'd rather not have your web search history combined with information gathered from other products like Google+, YouTube, and so on, then you'll want to delete your web history posthaste. Follow our guide for clearing your Google search history [2].

Manage What Personal Info Appears Online

Five bucks is all it takes for a stranger online to find out your phone number, your family members, and your complete location history online. What did you do to authorize this information? Nothing. All of it is public record, and sites like Spokeo and PeopleSmart are making this personal information available on the web for a small fee.

Use our how-to on opting out of these people directories [3].

Report Online Scams and Phishing Emails

Don't sit back and let your web presence get inundated with suspicious emails and scams. Report hackings, Internet fraud, and dubious emails to the US government.

Hacking or a computer virus

If you suspect you've become a victim of hacking or have had a computer virus installed on your machine, then you can report the incident to your Internet service provider (like Comcast or AT&T) or directly to the FBI [4].

Internet fraud

If you've been shopping online and think that you've been scammed, have had your identity stolen, or notice fraudulent activity, then you can report the offender to the FTC for investigation [5]. Then check out the FTC's resource for what to do next [6] and how to protect yourself.

Spam or phishing emails

If you suspect you've received spam or phishing emails (that are trying to scam you for private information like log-ins and passwords), then forward them directly to the FTC's database for spam [7] with the full header information, or send to the Anti-Phishing Working Group [8].

Source: Instagram user mizzbuzz [9]

Enable Private Browsing on iDevices

But there are two very easy steps you can take in order to ensure that no one tracks your browsing history ever when you're using an Apple product.

  1. Head to your iPhone or iPad's General Settings. Scroll down to your Safari app, and then find the area marked "Private Browsing." If it's not already, then switch that to "On."
  2. Then click on the "Accept Cookies" section and switch it to "Never."

Shop Safely Online

Have an online shopping addiction? Be sure you follow these general rules so you don't become the victim of an online credit card scam!

Keep Kids Safe Online

Between tablets, smartphones, and the ever-present home computer, kids are pretty tech-savvy these days. Still, keep any online dangers at bay with some practical safety measures.

Password Safety

Outwit potential hackers by staying password smart.

  • Don't be fooled by emails: I've been asked to reply to my "banking institution" with my account login information before. The email is formatted to look legit, but if you check the sender's address, most likely it's from a third-party account like Gmail, Yahoo, or MSN. Be diligent, and never reply to emails with your bank logins or passwords, and always check where they are coming from first! When in doubt, call instead.
  • Reset passwords often: Too often, people have some pretty lame passwords [11], which allow their accounts to get hacked even without a phishing scam. Make sure your passwords are tough to guess, and try to change them every few months.
  • Get some password help: There are sites out there that can help you choose a hacker-proof password [12], but just don't go writing it down [13] in an easy-to-find place soon after you settle on one!
  • Never forget your password again: You can use a device like Roboform [14] to store your passwords digitally, and then all you have to do is insert it into your computer's USB port for access. Just keep that sucker under lock and key!
  • Socialize Shrewdly

    When joining the latest social network du jour, follow these best practices.

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