[-- Read Time: 2 mins --]

With the rise of the internet, it’s become a lot easier for cyber criminals to steal your personal information. Although installing security software on internet-enabled devices can help keep you safe, there are some ways you may be unknowingly putting yourself at risk. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while you surf the web.

Use encrypted websites

When sharing personal or financial information online, make sure the website is encrypted for your protection. How do you know if a website is encrypted? Easy, the web address will begin with “https://”. The “s” is the key to knowing a site is secure. Be careful, some sites only use encryption on the log in page, leaving the rest of your session open to harm. The “https://” must appear on every page in order to be safe.

Avoid using weak passwords

If you have “123456”, “password” or “qwerty” as your password, you’re not alone. These are three of the most popular passwords also making them three of the weakest. The more unpredictable your password is, the safer your account will be.  Choose a password that’s 10-12 characters long and contains a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts because if they crack your code for one account, they’ll be able to gain access to all of them. Be sure to keep a record of your passwords, but not in a place that’s accessible to others. Your password records should be encrypted or kept in a safe place.

Do your research

Don’t assume that every advertisement you see is from a legitimate company. Before sharing your information on any website, do your research. Search for the company or product name followed by terms like “review” or “scam”. If the results aren’t good, take your business elsewhere.

Stop posting everything on social media

Want to know if you’re sharing too much online? Do a web search of your name and see what comes up. More than likely your results will contain pictures, social media accounts and past addresses. Be careful what you share online because some of the information may be beneficial to identity thieves. For instance, bragging about a car you just bought may help them answer one of the security questions needed to access your bank account information.

Back up your files

You never know when your computer will break down or be infected by a virus so you need to back up your files on a regular basis. This can be easily done by copying the important documents and placing them on a flash drive, removable disc or cloud storage service.