1 Defend your computer
- Strengthen your computer’s defenses. Keep all software (including your web browser) current with automatic updating. Install legitimate antivirus and antispyware software. Never turn off your firewall. Protect your wireless router with a password, and use flash drives cautiously.
- Don’t be tricked into downloading malicious software. Think before you open attachments or click links in email or IM, or on a social network—even if you know the sender. Confirm with the sender that the message is authentic. Don’t click links or buttons in pop-up windows.
2 Protect sensitive personal information
- Before you enter sensitive data, look for signs that a webpage is secure—a web address with https and a closed padlock ( ) beside it.
- Never give sensitive info (like an account number or password) or call a number in response to a request in email or IM or on a social network.
- Think carefully before you respond to pleas for money from “family members,” deals that sound too good to be true, or other scams.
3 Create strong passwords and keep them secret
- Make them long phrases or sentences that mix capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Use different passwords, especially for sites that keep financial information.
4 Take charge of your online reputation
- Discover what is on the Internet about you and periodically reevaluate what you find. Cultivate an accurate, positive reputation.
5 Use social networks more safely
- Look for Settings or Options in services like Facebook and Twitter to manage who can see your profile or photos tagged with your name, how people can search for you and make comments, and how to block people.
- Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard.
- Be selective about accepting friends. Regularly reassess who has access to your pages, and review what they post about you.
6 Take extra steps to keep kids safer online
- Make online safety a family effort, a mix of guidance and monitoring. Nego- tiate clear guidelines for web and online game use that fit your kid’s maturity and family’s values. Pay attention to what kids do and who they meet online.