With recent news that Microsoft just claimed 50 domains owned by hackers, 2020's off to a very fast start. As technology gets better and better, so, too, does the evil that lurks behind just about any and every website we visit.
So how can you stay safe while browsing your favorite sites this year? Turns out it's simpler than you may think. By following a few best practices, you can avoid many common pitfalls and clever traps the bad guys use on unsuspecting victims with ease!
Avoid websites without "https"
It's now 2020, and every reputable company should have a secured website. That security is indicated by an "https" designation-- and in short, it's what gives you the go-ahead to browse the site. The secured designation of a site means that any private information you enter there will remain private, even on that website's server. So if you enter a username and password to login, need to share your email address in order to claim an offer, or share your credit card information when you're ready to purchase, the owners of the site will not be able to duplicate that information and use it for their own gain. If you're unsure about where to find "https" in the address bar, just look for the lock icon on the left hand side.
Don't download from questionable websites
This may sound simple enough, but there are some crafty websites that entice even the best of us with offers we feel like we just can't refuse. When in doubt, refrain from clicking any download links (even if it's just to a harmless PDF). Clicking the wrong link can download a virus to your computer that can wreak absolute havoc. If you trust the site, download only what you feel is necessary. If you don't, refrain from clicking and exit the site as quickly as is safely possible.
Make good use of antivirus software
There are a number of cost effective anti-virus programs out there that can help you secure your web browser with ease. In fact, several of them are free. A quick Google search of free anti-virus programs can help you whittle down your options to the few that will be most compatible with your browsing habits, computer model, memory, and other specifications. Once you've made your choice, download the software and, if possible, equip it to run a scan of your drive at regular intervals. This will help you stay up to date with anything that may have downloaded to your computer without your knowledge (unfortunately, this happens way more often than it should), alert you to any potential issues before they become full-blown problems, and keep the drive in top condition and virus and malware free. For an investment that usually costs next to nothing, antivirus software is about as solid of a choice as you can make.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, these simple tips can help you stay safe while browsing, keep your information secure and out of the wrong hands, and give you a little more peace of mind!