How can you protect yourself while online?

When sending confidential information over the Internet such as usernames, passwords, or credit card numbers only send it securely. To verify this look for a small lock (Internet browser security lock) in the bottom right corner of your browser window or next to the address bar (as shown below). If visible, this lock should also be in the locked position and not unlocked.

Internet Explorer 7.0 secure address bar
Internet Explorer 7 secure address bar

We also suggest making sure the URL begins with https as shown above.

While the lock is in the lock position, data is encrypted, which helps anyone from understanding the data if it’s intercepted. When no lock is visible or in the unlocked position all information is plaintext and if intercepted could be read. If a web page is not secure, such as an online forum, use a password you wouldn’t use with protected sites such as your online banking website.

E-mail is not encrypted

Websites should not transmit confidential data over e-mail, such as passwords, credit card information, etc. E-mail is not encrypted and if intercepted by a third-party could be read.

Be aware of phishing scams

Familiarized yourself with phishing scams and techniques, which are used to trick you into divulging your account information. Online banking sites, Paypal, eBay, Amazon, and other popular sites that require logins are popular targets.

Use a safe password

Websites that store confidential data, such as an online bank site need to use strong passwords. Also, it is highly recommended that you use a different password for each website that requires a login. If you need help remembering your passwords consider using a password manager.

Use caution when accepting or agreeing to prompts

When prompted to install any program or add-on make sure to read and understand the agreement before clicking on the Ok button. If you do not understand the agreement or feel it is not necessary to install the program cancel or close the window.

Additionally, when installing any program watch for any check box that asks if it’s ok to install a third-party program, toolbar, etc. These are never required and often cause more issues than good. Leave these boxes unchecked.

Be cautious where you’re logging in from

Business

Your place of work can install key loggers or use other methods of monitoring the computer while online. Someone who has access to this information could read these logs and gather usernames and passwords. Also, do not store any passwords in your browser if your computer is shared with other coworkers.

Wireless network

When on a wireless network realize that all information being sent to and from your computer can be intercepted and read by someone nearby. Prevent this from happening by only logging into a secure network using WEP or WPA. If this is a home wireless network, make sure it is secure.

Friends house

Be concerned when logging into an account from a friends computer. A computer or network you are not familiar with could intentionally or unintentionally log usernames and passwords. Finally, when logging into any site on a friends computer never save the password information on their browser.

Be aware of those around you

While at work, school, library, or anywhere that has people around who could look at the monitor be cautious of anyone shoulder surfing. Someone could watch you type in your password, which would give them access to your account.

If you need everything displayed on the screen to remain private, consider a privacy filter for the display.

Update Internet browser plugins

Often many attackers find security vulnerabilities through browser plugins such as Adobe Flash. Make sure all installed Internet plug-ins are up-to-date.

Secure saved passwords

Make sure to store passwords and login information in a secure area. Never write login information on a sticky note or in a text file that is not encrypted.

To save your passwords we recommend using a password manager, which stores all login information and securely encrypts and password protects that information.

When saving password information in a browser, it may be visible by anyone who has access to your Internet browser. For example, without a master password setup in Firefox anyone can see all stored passwords.

Use a third-party service to confirm the safety and security of a page

We recommend the free Web of Trust (WOT) tool to verify the safety of all websites on the Internet.

Top Internet tips and tricks

Here is a list of best top internet tips and tricks can used in our daily internet activities.

You don’t need the http:// portion of a web page

When entering an Internet address you do not need to type http:// or even www. in the address. For example, if you wanted to visit Computer Hope you could just type bigsweb.net and press enter. To make things even quicker, if you are visiting a .com address you can type bigsweb and then press Ctrl + Enter to type out the full https://www.bigsweb.net address.

Quickly move between the fields of a web page

browsersIf you are filling out an online form, e-mail, or other text field you can quickly move between each of the fields by pressing the Tab key or Shift + Tab to move back a field. For example, in the example form below you can click in the “First Name” field type anything and press tab to switch to the next field.

Quickly move between the fields of a web page

If you are filling out an online form, e-mail, or other text field you can quickly move between each of the fields by pressing the Tab key or Shift + Tab to move back a field. For example, in the example form below you can click in the “First Name” field type anything and press tab to switch to the next field.

First Name:



Tip: This tip also applies to the buttons, if you press tab and the web developer has designed correctly the button should be selected and allows you to press the space bar or enter to push the button.

Tip: With a drop-down box that lists dozens of options you can press the first letter to scroll down to that letter. For example, click the drop down box below and then press “u” to quickly scroll to Utah.

Know your Internet browser shortcuts

Internet browsersThere are dozens of different shortcut keys that can be used with Internet browsers. Below are a few of our top suggested Internet browser shortcuts.

  • Press Alt + D to move the cursor into the address bar.
  • Hold down the Ctrl key and press the + or – to increase and decrease the size of text. Ctrl + 0 will reset the text.
  • Press the backspace key or press Alt key + left arrow to go back a page.
  • Press F5 to refresh or reload a web page.
  • Press F11 to make the Internet browser screen full screen. Press F11 again to return to the normal view.
  • Press Ctrl + B to open your Internet bookmarks.
  • Press Ctrl + F to open the find box to search for text within the web page you are reading.

Take advantage of tabbed browsing

Take full advantage of tabbed browsing on all Internet browsers. While reading any web page if you come across a link that interests you open the link in a new tab so it doesn not interrupt your reading. A new tab can be opened by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking the link or if you have a mouse with a wheel press down on the wheel to use it as a middle mouse button to open the link in a new tab.

Use Internet search engines to their full potential

Get the most out of every search result. If you are not finding what you want try surrounding the text in quotes. For example, searching for ‘computer help’ without quotes returns results with “computer” and “help” anywhere on the page. However, if you search for “computer help” with the quotes it only return pages with “computer” and “help” next to each other.

Tip: In every search box you can press enter instead of using the mouse to click the Search button.

Try alternative browsers

Most computer users use the default browser that comes included with the computer, with Microsoft Windows this is Internet Explorer. There are many great alternative browsers that are all free to download and use and may have features your current browser does not include. Below are a few of our favorites, try one or try them all.

Install plugins and add-ons

All of the above alternative browsers also have a large community of volunteers who develop add-ons and plugins that can be added into the browser. Each of these browsers has hundreds of thousands of these add-ons that can do such things like the current weather in your browser window, changing its color, and adding additional functionality.

Make sure your browser and its plugins are up-to-date

An Internet browser can have many plugins that give it additional functionality. For example, Adobe Flash is a great way to bring movies and other animated content to the Internet. Keeping these plugins up-to-date is vital for your computer stability and also security. Using the below tool you can quickly verify if your plugins are up-to-date and get links to where to download the latest updates.

Use online services

There are hundreds of free online services that can help make using your computer easier, more productive, and more enjoyable.