Instead of beaver fur, the digital frontier is trading in stolen credit card information and hijacked passwords. Old fashion duels with pistol in hand have been replaced with keyboards and complex coding. And robbing identities has become more exciting than robbing banks.
It doesn’t seem like anything is getting better, either. Every time security advances, digital threats find some new, innovative way to be more malicious than ever. The two are constantly neck and neck; while no one ever truly wins, people do lose.
So to make sure you never end up unarmed and friendless in the Wild West, here are a few basic steps to maintain internet vigilance.
Excuse me, have we met before? Stick with ol’ reliable. This is the most effective way to stay safe while browsing (although it is slightly unreasonable). If you remain on sites from known companies like Amazon, Etsy and Wal-Mart and widely used and accepted sites like Google, Pandora and Business Insider, your vulnerabilities probably won’t be so open to exploitation.
However, there will be times when you decide to venture further into the unknown—you’ll want to read a blog you discovered 12 pages deep into a Google search or purchase a T-shirt from an obscure website you heard about from a friend of a friend.
So if you do decide to willingly meander off into the Wild West, make sure you’re armed.
Are you letting the Wild West slip in? Keep your devices up-to-date with the latest security patches and browser extensions. Never, ever postpone them. Your device is prompting you to update for a reason and they remind you over and over for a reason. Many times, they’ll even try to force it on you (your device will shut down in the next ten minutes unless you postpone).
Take the hint.
When you delay critical updates, you create holes. The longer you wait, the larger they become. Holes are wonderful opportunities for hackers, viruses and worms to slip through.
Well, howdy there HTTPS. If you’re entering in your credit card information somewhere, glance up tothe top left of your screen. If you notice http and not https, you need get out of there.
Https means your data will be encrypted and harder to intercept by hackerscamping out in the middle somewhere. Http, on the other hand, may leave your data vulnerable during a transfer.
There’s a new sheriff in town and he goes by Browser Extension. When you take a whirl in the digital sector, you should stay as safe as possible and adding a few browser extensions will help. There are many different forms of extensions, like ad blockers, anti-tracking and anti-cookie. These extensions encourage privacy and keep you more secure when you’re off exploring the dark corners of the web.
To nudge you in the right direction, here’s a list Lifehacker compiled of popular browser extensions.