11 tips for safer surfing

It is hard to be completely anonymous on the Internet, but if you are smart you certainly have a better chance of avoiding prying eyes. Here are 11 tips that will make you safer.

Tip 1: Log out of everything

One of the simplest and most effective things that you should make a habit of doing is always logging out of any services after using them. This applies both to social media and email services, as well as forums that require passwords. Many of the services follow you as long as you are logged on and they see that you are logged on to several sites at the same time, which makes it easier to identify you. If you log out, you make it a lot harder for them.

Tip 2: Check your settings in social media

Social media is not only a great way to keep in touch with friends, but also an excellent forum for advertisers who want to find out everything about you. Hackers and scammers are also attracted to the networks, whose services we pay for with our privacy instead of our credit cards. You should obviously review your privacy settings on all social media services that you use. Get to grips with it; decide who can see what and how they see it. Being careful about what photos and links you share is just as important, of course. Consider sharing information as if it was a tattoo: it is something that you get lumbered with for a long time and which you will have great difficulty removing if you someday change your mind.

Tip 3: Think before you search

The search engines you use might have a complete control over you. They probably know more about you than your family and your friends do. How is that possible? Well - they can see what you have searched for and can easily form a detailed picture of who you are. You may think you have nothing to hide, but remember that everything you do leads to targeted advertising. Consider what you are searching for and make sure you are not logged on when you are searching.

Tip 4: Hide your IP address

The device that you use has its own "personal number" in the form of an IP address. Your IP address shows which browser you are using, as well as where exactly you are browsing from. It is not uncommon for websites to save your IP address, allowing them to identify you the next time you visit. These websites know what you do when you visit and how long you usually stay. You cannot hide your IP address, because your address is required for communication with websites and services. However, it is possible to anonymize it. Solutions such as a VPN give you that protection.

Tip 5: Keep all software updated

The most common reason for software updates are the faults that have been found in the software. The updates are designed to fix these faults. Common faults are security flaws that hackers can exploit to take control of your files and your computer. So make sure you always keep all software up-to-date on your device. If it is possible to set up your computer so that you get these updates automatically, do so.

Tip 6: Turn off cookies

Cookies are the most common method that websites and services use to keep tabs on you. Cookies are small files that keep track of what your particular computer does on the server. We often readily accept cookies and rarely read the terms of use. Cookies may seem harmless and they are certainly used to give you a personalized and seamless experience, but they are often also used by third parties. Many services sell information about what you do to the so-called ad networks that are often also allowed to install their own cookies. You can opt out of receiving these third-party cookies by changing the settings in your browser.

Tip 7: Change your passwords

You probably already know that you should not use the same password for different services. If you do use the same password everywhere, stop doing so straightaway. Reusing your password can have enormous consequences, given the number of services we now use and the extent to which our lives are based on online accounts of various kinds. However, using different passwords is not enough. Passwords should be difficult to guess and they should also be changed on a regular basis. If this task seems overwhelming, there are a lot of solutions that simplify the password management, such as F-Secure KEY.

Tip 8: Beware of free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi networks that do not require passwords are common especially in airports, train stations, and other places where a large number of people pass through. These Wi-Fi services are often too good to be true. A reputable service requires a registration or a password. If it is too easy for you to log on, you might be on a fake network where someone is just sitting and waiting for you to enter your passwords or a credit card number. There are indeed services that encrypt information passing between your device and the router, such as F‑Secure TOTAL, which includes a VPN.

Tip 9: Check the rights that come with your apps

Apps are often underestimated as data collectors. That the app is on the Internet is not always obvious, which might give you a false sense of security. However, apps certainly also collect information about you. Apps use, for example, the hardware in mobile devices and use your camera, GPS, and calendar to pick up lots of information about you. You have probably already accepted a number of user agreements without giving them a second thought. Always read the license agreement before accepting and turn off location services for those apps that do not have an obvious need for this information.

Tip 10: Use a VPN solution

Anyone who uses a VPN solution is given a lot of protection. In short, a VPN gives you an encrypted connection between your device and the VPN server. When a so-called VPN tunnel is set up, no outsiders intercepting your connection can see the contents of your traffic. Not even your Internet service provider can see what kind of traffic is passing to and from your device. It can only see how much traffic there is. A VPN solution gives you an anonymous IP address, which means that the server is not able to identify the operator that you are using or the geographical area where your data is coming from.

Tip 11: Click with care

Not clicking on any odd links should be as obvious as not visiting any old place in the real world. But we do not often see it like that. We are often only too happy to click on links from the sources of which we know nothing about, or which are shared on social media by people who have no interest in sharing important thoughts or information. Sometimes the links lead to websites we would certainly have no wish to visit, and we may then be associated with the content of these websites as a result of our visit. In other words, it is always a good idea to be wary of most things that do not come from a source you trust. If you want to be sure that you are safe online, use an Internet security solution that protects you against malicious websites.

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