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Here's how you can make your internet experience that little bit safer

As it’s Safer Internet Day it’s worth brushing up on the different factors to keep your info safe.

Image: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

IF YOU HAVEN’T heard already, today is Safer Internet Day, dedicated to educating people and remind everyone to adapt best practices

Except the internet is far more than just our computers or smartphones, it’s practically a way of life now. And while you should be taking precautions with your information, it’s always good to remind yourself of what you can do to ensure everything is safe.

Some things to keep in mind

  • Always make sure the site you’re viewing uses ‘https’, as a way to ensure your data is kept safe. If it’s not, make sure you’re not entering in any private or sensitive information, especially if it’s financial.
  • Consider what you’re posting online. If it’s public, would this be something you want to be referred back to you again?
  • Don’t click on a shortened link unless it comes from a reputable source and can be clearly identified. If you have to, use a service like Long URL to check its source. 
  • Don’t accept requests from anyone you don’t know. Also, just because your friends accepted them doesn’t mean you should.
  • If you have to enter in personal information, keep it to a minimum. If you’re entering in a phone number for example, does it have any relevance to the service (two-factor verification, instant messaging, contact details for service, etc.).

Read up on the T&Cs

A task that’s easier said than done, but you’re entitled to know what privileges and limitations each site has when you use it or sign up to its services.

A handy way of checking this is through Terms of Service;Didn’t Read, a site which breaks down the T&C of every major site and shows you what you should be aware of. It also ranks them based on their policies as well so you get a clear idea of what’s happening.

ToS;DR Source: ToS;DR

Know what app permissions mean

All apps ask for permission to access certain phone features so they can function properly. For iPhone and iPad, these permissions are asked for once you start using them but for Android and Windows Phone, you’re asked to confirm before you download. It’s worth knowing what each one means so you’re not allowing apps more access to your phone and online data.

In certain cases, you can control permissions after you’ve installed an app.

ios-push-notifications-630x459 Source: iOS

Check what services you’re still signed up to

Chances are if you have a smartphone, you’ve signed up to a number of services through apps. It’s likely that this The most popular signup methods are email, Facebook, Twitter and Google (either Gmail or G+). All of them have sections which show what apps you’ve signed up to allowing you to quickly check what you’re still signed up to.

The exception here is email which requires you to search for them manually, but we found that searching for “welcome” usually picked up most services.

Check your presence online

It can sometimes be tough to control what exactly appears online but you can take steps to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. Googling your name and related terms is a good way of finding out how the world sees you, and can reveal pages or information you may not have been aware of originally.

Check security and privacy features

All major sites include security features to keep your data private. Some allow you to micromanage them, while others allow you to hide your profiles completely, only allowing approved people to see them.

Knowing what’s visible is important if you’re using Facebook, for example, as you don’t want everyone to see your holiday albums or your last night out.

Activate two-factor verification

Everyone has a phone and that can easily be used to give your accounts an extra layer of security. What two-factor verification means is that anyone who tries to sign in to your account will have to have to your phone as well to receive a second sign-in code.

This is entered on top of your usual password and username, and can really enhance the safety of your accounts. This is especially handy if your account has financial information included.

google-2-step-verification-gif Source: Google

Use a password manager

Should you have a large number of accounts, it’s worth taking the time to check your accounts and see what services you’ve signed up to.

There are a number of benefits when using a password manager – most security breaches tend to be weak passwords instead of hacking – not least it gives your all your accounts complex passwords while you only need to remember one.

Read: ‘The early days of social media were mostly carefree – now mistakes can be like a bad tattoo’ >

Read: Are Samsung’s Smart TVs really listening in on your conversations? >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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