Browsing the Internet – Staying safe on the World Wide Web

Browsing the Internet – Staying safe on the World Wide Web

Here are some tips for safe browsing on the Internet, whether you use Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.

Checking the URL:
If you get to an Amazon login page, but you look at the address bar and see that the URL is not “www.Amazon.com”, you should know that something is wrong. This holds true for every website that you visit. One thing to watch out for are websites that have similar characters to the one you’re trying to visit, e.g.: www.amaz0n.com (Number 0 instead of letter O).

Get into the habit of quickly glancing over at the address bar before entering credentials or any sensitive information into a website form.

HTTPS Security:
If you’ve ever shopped online or used your banks online system, you may have noticed that your browser displays some form of lock either near the address bar or at the bottom of the window. “HTTP” is the method we use for browsing to websites, “HTTPS” adds the ’S’ for “Secure”. The image below indicates where each browser’s HTTPS lock icon appears.

browserHTTPS

What this lock symbolizes is that all of the sensitive data you are sending to the website (or receiving) is secured in a way that prevents someone else from just intercepting and reading the information. As you are banking, shopping online, or providing personal information, ALWAYS be sure to check for this lock. This signifies that the website is securing all of your data properly and keeps this information away from potential attackers.

Ad-Blocking:
Most websites generate revenue from displaying ads to their users, allowing them to provide content at no cost to the viewer. These ads usually are in the form of either an image on the website, or a popup. There are browser plugins that allow you to block websites from displaying ads in your browser (“Adblock Plus” is one such example). This can be extremely helpful when browsing to websites that you cannot fully trust. Ad-blockers can help to disable potentially  malicious ads and pop ups.

It’s recommended that if you use Ad-blocking software, you should disable it for the websites that you frequent. This practice, known as “white-listing”, allows the trusted website to display ads and continue to generate revenue.

Downloading:
The Internet is full of websites that will allow you to download applications and files. When downloading any files, always be sure that you are downloading from trusted websites.  You can almost always trust downloads from the original author’s website, for example: If I’m trying to install the Adobe Reader program, I want to make sure to grab this installer from the www.adobe.com website. Installers downloaded from random websites are not guaranteed to be safe, as they can contain viruses.