As more and more areas of our lives and work move into the online sphere, cybercrime becomes a bigger threat.

“It’s important that every Internet user is aware of safe online practices,” said Doug Hogue, VP of Business Development, of Cloud Solutions, a division of the Eric Ryan Corporation. “It is important that you educate yourself about this in order to be the best first line of defense against hackers. More than any other software, your own Internet usage can be the best defense against cyberthreats.”

Read on to learn some key strategies for securing your online safety.

Use a “Think Before You Click” Policy
When you visit your inbox, get in the habit of always double-checking for suspicious content prior to following any embedded links or downloading any attachments. Cybercriminals are adept at phishing attacks and work hard to convince targets that they are to be trusted. Most people know to avoid opening emails from strangers and clicking on odd looking links; fewer people, however, are aware of how sophisticated phishing attacks have become. These days, hackers are adept at posing as a person you know who might legitimately be requesting sensitive information. It is always wise to get verbal confirmation of any email requests for sensitive data.

Secure Your Devices and Accounts
When it comes to your devices and online accounts, employing best practices regarding setup and maintenance can go a long way in keeping you safe online. When you initially set up a device or account, be sure to use strong passwords, enable two-factor authentication, if it is an option, and take advantage of any available privacy settings. On top of that, be sure to regularly check for updates, as they often contain important security features.

Secure Your Data
Be smart with your data. First, make it a habit to regularly back up all your files—having a backup copy will save you from a big headache in the event of either a cyberbreach, or simply an accident involving your device. Second, be smart about how you use and store financial information online. When making online purchases, be sure that you only do so from secure websites (double check that the URL says “https” rather than just “http”). And while it is very convenient to keep your credit card information stored on sites from which you frequently purchase, we recommend against this practice. Finally, only access the Internet using secure Wi-Fi; avoid connecting via unsecured public wireless Internet.

Educate Yourself and Your Loved Ones
Take the time to make sure that you and your family are aware of the critical roles that you play in protecting yourselves online. Awareness can go a long way in keeping you from falling victim to cybercrime. Make sure that you always:

  • Keep any personal information you put online professional and limited
  • Practice safe browsing
  • Take notice of what you download
  • Stay informed about the latest scams and the tactics that they employ

When it comes to staying safe online, you are your first—and best—line of defense. Education, staying alert, and smart practices are the key to protecting yourself online.