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Staying Safe Online

The internet provides you with the means to do almost anything. However, it isn’t always safe. Many people take online safety for granted, but it is important that you do everything you can to protect yourself and your information.

An important thing to keep track of is what websites you visit. Most websites are safe, but there’s never an easy way to tell. You could very easily go to a site that appears to be legitimate, but in reality, is actively installing spyware onto your computer. This is why I find it important to use an online security program that can screen the websites you are about to visit, such as Trend Micro or AVG. The program I use, Trend Micro, will “rate” links based on their trustworthiness, so you’ll never fall into a spyware trap.

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Now, most of these online security programs have another form of security accompanying them, usually, one that screens downloaded content for viruses and other malicious content that may already be on your computer. This is all great and will protect you from most malicious software, but there are still things that you should do on your own. For one, always make sure you know what you’re getting into when you give out private information online. Don’t enter any personal info on a website that you don’t believe to be trustworthy, or don’t give it away to anybody you don’t know.

The final piece of staying safe online is passwords. Many people say many different things about how to come up with the perfect password. Although, not all of these can be correct. The most common suggestion for creating a solid password (and the most commonly required formula) is to use uppercase, lowercase, and other random characters as well as numbers. Nevertheless, there are other alternatives that people claim to be better. Unfortunately, most websites don’t offer much of an option. Due to the popularity of the first option compared to the latter, most websites require you to use the random character method. But is that really the right choice? The problem is, there are far fewer computer characters and permutations of those characters within a 6-digit passcode than there are words in the English language. This means that a passcode following the standard guidelines will take thousands (yes, thousands) of years less to crack than three or four random words. A phrase like “hills complete downhill” is easier to remember than Ks34$5#@, isn’t it?

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Unfortunately, for now, we’ll just have to wait until these outdated policies get changed. Until then, stay safe on the web!