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Whether you’re a casual internet browser, a parent teaching your children how to use the computer, or an experienced website designer, we all share the fear of losing sensitive documents or personal information to a hacker.

Fortunately, there are many online safety precautions you can take that don’t require too much effort. Here are 10 tips to help you stay safe online.

1. Use strong passwords

This tip is number 1 for a reason! Password security is vitally important to staying safe online and protecting your data. Do you know how secure your current password is?

Creating strong passwords:

  • The longer it is, the harder it is for a computer to guess.
  • A random mix of special characters, numbers, and letters are typically much stronger instead of easy to guess words like family names or dates like birthdays, graduations, etc.
  • If you’re worried about not remembering your password, use 3 random words that you’ll be able to remember. It will take a computer millions or billions of years to guess (see comic below.)

  • (Source: XKCD)

2. Use an antivirus program

To stay safe online, it’s often recommended to have multiple lines of defense against attackers. Antivirus programs can be very useful to help identify and catch threats you don’t even see before they get a chance to infect your computer.

Lists of the best available antivirus softwares can be easily found online if you’re unsure which to choose, and doing some research to find the best one in your price range can be more than worth it.

3. Don’t click that!

Avoiding careless clicking is regarded as one of the easier ways to stay safe online. It’s advised that you be sure you know what will happen when you click any link online. Spam emails, “free” offers, and 419 scams (aka Nigerian Prince scams) commonly ask you to click dangerous links that ask for personal information.

If you want to double check a link, one easy step is to copy the link and run a search for it (make sure you don’t just paste it into your browser’s address bar though!)

4. Be a selective sharer

Thanks to widespread anonymity online, you need to be sure who you’re talking to, before you share sensitive information like bank details, addresses, or passwords. Make sure sites you are sharing credit card information with are using an encrypted connection (HTTPS), and be sure you’re on the correct website.

5. Back up your data

In the unfortunate event your documents or information are compromised, it will be a lifesaver to have those files backed up and accessible. There are many services online that let you back up your data remotely, and it never hurts to have things backed up on an external hard drive as well.

6. Use two-factor authentication and sign up for login notifications

Two-factor authentication will tie your accounts to your phone number or email address, giving you an extra security net and adding another layer of protection against hackers.

Login notifications alert you when your account has been logged into at a location different from where you usually log on, which will help you detect potential attacks right when they happen.

7. Get HTTPS for your site and try to always use an encrypted connection (for developers)

If you’re building or already own your own website, it is beneficial to have an SSL certificate. More than 50% of the web is now encrypted, so don’t be the one lagging behind!

If you’re browsing the web, and especially if you’re buying things or exchanging sensitive information, make sure the website you are accessing is using HTTPS. Some browsers show this as a little green lock in your address bar.

8. Keep your software, scripts, and plugins updated (for developers)

Keeping the software and scripts you’ve installed on your website up-to-date is key to keeping it protected and safe online. If you built your site with WordPress, don’t just disable plugins that you’re not using, uninstall or delete them altogether.

Remember to also back up your data before updating software so you are safe in case something goes wrong with the update.

9. Ensure your file permissions are correct (for developers)

If you’re a developer or built your own site from scratch, be sure that you used the correct file permissions and double check who has access to each file.

10. Don’t store sensitive information in your database (for developers)

Credit card numbers, social security numbers, or any other highly valuable information, is vulnerable if stored in your database. It’s commonly recommended that you don’t store this information in your database.

No matter what level of computing skill you possess, there are threats online that could affect you or your website if the proper measures aren’t taken. Use these online safety tips as part of your protection strategy, and look to build on it as much as possible.

Once you’ve finished brushing up on ways to stay safe online, head to gen.xyz/giveaway and find out how you could submit your .xyz website to win 1 of 4 iPad Pros in our website building contest! Hurry though, entries close on July 31.

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