Staying safe online

Protecting yourself, your information, and your devices by staying safe online with these cybersecurity tips.

Back to Smithville Smart: Digital Fluency Series

Cybersecurity is the practice of keeping yourself, your information, and your devices safe from potential online threats when using the Internet. These threats often come in the form of cyberattacks, which can lead to unauthorized access to your data, identity theft, or financial loss.

Types of cyber threats

Malware: This describes software that is designed to harm or compromise computer systems, networks, or other data. Malware can be introduced to a system through fraudulent email attachments, malicious links, infected downloads, and more.

Spam emails: Although some spam emails are sent for advertising or product promotions, some spam emails can be fraudulent. These types of emails often include attachments or links to malicious software that can infect the recipient’s device if opened or clicked.

Online scams: This includes fake accounts impersonating someone you know, fraudulent offers that are too good to be true, requesting personal information, sending malicious links, and more.

Phishing: This happens when an individual is tricked into revealing sensitive and confidential information, such as login credentials, personal information, or financial details. It is a play on the word “fishing,” as attackers bait individuals with fraudulent messages or websites.

For more information about phishing, watch the video below!

Recognizing red flags online can help individuals to take proactive measures when dealing with cybersecurity threats and stay safe online. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Spelling and grammar errors
  • Urgency or pressure
  • Unfamiliar senders
  • Requests for personal information
  • Impersonating a trusted person
  • Unsolicited emails
Tips on protecting your data
  • Use strong, unique passwords for each account
  • Be cautious of suspicious emails or links
  • Keep your software and anti-virus up-to-date
  • Regularly back up your data
  • Enable two-factor authentication

Online shopping

As the popularity of online shopping continues to grow, consumers need to be aware of the vulnerabilities that come with making transactions in the digital world. Cybersecurity awareness and best practices play a crucial role in protecting personal and financial information. With thousands of online sites to shop from, it can be intimidating to know which ones are safe. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Unsecured Wi-Fi networks: Shopping on a public network can expose your personal and financial data to hackers. Make sure you are on a secure and private network when shopping online.

Insecure websites: Some online retailers may not have secure websites, making your personal information vulnerable to hackers. Ensure the website is secure by checking if the URL starts with “https://.” 

Fake apps: Some malicious apps imitate legitimate apps to steal your information. Be cautious of downloading shopping apps from unofficial sources.

Tips for online shopping
  • Use reputable websites
  • Check for HTTPS
  • Keep software up-to-date
  • Use strong, unique passwords
  • Be cautious with promotional email links
For more information about online shopping, watch the video below!

Digital footprint

A digital footprint is the collection of data and information that is generated by an individual’s online activities and interactions. In other words, it is a record of a person’s presence and actions on the Internet such as social media activity, online searches, website visits, online purchases, location data, emails, and more. Whether you’re sharing on social media, making purchases online, surfing the Internet, or enabling location services—it’s important to be mindful of what you share online and how to protect your privacy.

Personalization: Oftentimes, after searching for a product on the Internet, you may see a sponsored ad for that product in your social media feed. This is because companies use your digital footprint to personalize content, advertisements, and recommendations based on your interests and behaviors. Another example is watching a few videos from a specific creator, and then seeing more of their videos in your feed.

Reputation management: It’s important to be cautious about the consequences of your online activities as they can impact your personal and professional reputation. Whether it’s the content of your social media posts, what profiles you engage with, or your privacy settings—it’s important to manage this presence effectively. Although a digital footprint isn’t necessarily permanent, it can be challenging to erase completely.

Security risks: Hackers and cybercriminals can use the information you share online to carry out acts of identity theft, phishing, and other malicious activities. To mitigate these risks, be sure to delete unnecessary information from your online accounts, use a private Internet connection for online purchases, and limit the personal information you share online.

For more information about cybersecurity, watch the video below!

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