As mentioned in our previous stories about getting back to the basics of online security and privacy, it’s not all that difficult to stay cyber secure. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Keep a clean machine
  2. Protect your personal information
  3. Connect with care
  4. Be “web wise”
  5. Be a good online citizen
  6. Own your online presence

Last time we talked about protecting your personal information. This time we’re looking at connecting with care.

Connecting with care

“Connecting with care” is all about taking an extra moment to think about security and privacy, before clicking a link, opening an email, connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot or using certain online services. It’s about recognizing that each time you do any of those things, you’re making the decision to trust whoever (or whatever) is on the other side of that connection.

So, how do you know you can truly trust the connection you’re making? How do you know the website you’re visiting isn’t a phony look-a-like of the real website? How do you know your Wi-Fi connection is safe and secure? Start simple with these three tips:

Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots

Most Wi-Fi hotspots don’t encrypt the information you send over the internet and aren’t secure. Unless you’re on your own secure Wi-Fi network, you cannot assume your information is protected as it passes to and from the internet over a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Limit the type of business you conduct online through untrusted and public Wi-Fi hotspots. The Federal Trade Commission offers more guidance for getting savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots here. You can also learn more about securing your own Wi-Fi network here.

Be sure about a site’s security

When you’re dealing with sensitive information online—banking or shopping, for instance—make sure the website has enabled security protections on their end. Look for website addresses with https:// at the beginning. This means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. Site addresses starting with http:// (without the “s”) are not as secure. Look for https:// on every page you visit, not just when you sign in.

When in doubt, throw it out

Links in email, social media posts and online ads are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. These links appear to be leading you to a reputable website to login or make a purchase, but sometimes they are not legitimate. Once your login information or credit card number is entered into these fake sites, the cybercriminals have it! Play it safe: even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it. Learn more about how bad guys attempt to phish personal information from you by reading our earlier post, or check the Federal Trade Commission’s phishing information site.