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Safely getting around online

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The World Wide Web is a great resource, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to take precautions, writes Sarel Lamprecht, MD of cyber insurance company Phishield.
Although the Web is 27 years old, newspaper reports abound of people being taken for a ride. There are, however, several ways to keep yourself safe online.
Never, ever post personal information, such as a cell phone number, home number, home address, or location on any social networking site or through mobile apps like Snapchat or Instagram. Post your holiday pictures after the event, not when your house is empty. It doesn’t take much work to find out where people live – even with a common surname, an IP address and online White Pages, you’re an easy hit.
Delete unwanted messages and use your e-mail spam filter. If you receive an automated e-mail that you did not subscribe to, do not respond or unsubscribe. This only signals to a spammer that you received and opened that email, which could make you an easy target in the future.
Be careful when opening attachments sent via e-mail. It can be risky to open e-mails that contain external or unknown files as these documents or photos could mask malicious actions. To avoid these, run a scan on any questionable e-mail received.
Don’t share your password, ever, and make it more complicated than Password1. That’s one of the easiest passwords to hack. Use different passwords for different accounts. The more passwords you have, the less chance a hacker or thief can access your various accounts.
To make it easier for you to return, many websites offer the option to remember your login information on the current computer you are using. Don’t allow this option if you are not using your own personal and secure device.
Make full use of privacy settings to limit information available to the public, and don’t accept any arbitrary friend requests. At the same time, make sure you have adequate virus protection installed, make sure it is on the right settings and is up to date.
Don’t ever download software without first double checking the source, and making sure it’s trusted and the certificate is up to date – Google Chrome or your antivirus software can help with this.
Sometimes, scammers will try and rip you off with a pop up on your screen that will say your PC is infected, and scam you into buying software you don’t need, and that will do nothing. Worse, the scammers will then have your credit card details, so you’ll have to cancel the card.
Don’t download anything that is compressed unless you trust the file, as these often come with viruses or other malware.
And, most importantly, use your common sense. If it seems too good to be true, it is.