In this heavily computerized world we live in, one thing we can take for granted is the appearance of those who try to fool people less aware of the dangers of the online world to steal information and money or be harmful in a handful of ways. Over the past few months we saw how children became easy targets for hackers, how their new toys can be turned into weapons against privacy and how their favorite websites are being used by companies to spy on them.
Sadly, they are not the only targets, as many hackers attack the older generation instead, who are just now getting familiar with computers, and whose capability of understanding the whole digital world may not be the best. Given this, whether you’re an elderly internet user or know anyone who is, the following tips were just made for you:
Understand the Dangers
No list could start without telling you about the dangers first. Websites use so-called trackers to log every step you take in the online world and to later bring you targeted advertisements. For instance, if you visit an online shoe store or simply search for footwear using Google, the moment you visit any other website you’ll see ads about shoes or shoe stores. This will remain untouched unless you…
Clean Your Browser History
One of the most important aspects about surfing the web in a safe manner is to wipe those online footprints you left behind. Although getting rid of those footprints can seem quite tricky, it is actually very easy.
Here is how it goes: in your browser’s menus, search for the division with privacy-oriented settings, where you can clean such things as cookies, search history, saved usernames and passwords etc. Before closing the browser, wipe everything we just mentioned, so next time you open the web, it would be like starting with a clean slate. Certain browsers also allow you to command them not to memorize this data at all or to delete them automatically when you close the pages; this option is very useful and prevents you from forgetting to do the necessary deletions.
Use Safer Search Engines
Although Google, Yahoo, Bing and company seem to be the best search engines of the market, they often use the aforementioned tracking methods, meaning that you should consider a different and safer one instead. Still, many companies opt for better privacy solutions and develop their products accordingly. Fortunately, there are many search engines that neither track you around nor display annoying pop-up ads on every page you visit.
Pay Attention to HTTPS Websites
Ever wondered why some websites have HTTPS before the actual address and why others start by HTTP? This is more important than you may think: HTTP is short for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, which is basically the “language” your computer uses to display the page you want to access, while the extra S in HTTPS stands for Secure. Although many pages not featuring the S after HTTP are completely fine, you should always give priority to pages starting with HTTPS or, in lack thereof, check if the site is trustworthy. This is especially important with online retailers, since you have to let your guard down once and you might end up paying someone other than the entity you want to. The same way you wouldn’t purchase something in a physical store you don’t trust, always choose HTTPS pages when shopping online to avoid giving away your bank account data to wrongdoers.
Be Careful What You Tell on Social Media
Regardless of age and gender, some of the most visited websites are social media networks. Although many platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc. have their own share of users, nothing compares to Facebook, the most influential website of the world, and at the same time one of the most controversial ones in terms of privacy
However, not everything is rainbows and butterflies, as Facebook is also known for using the same tracking techniques we already mentioned. Therefore, be careful when posting online, since it’s pretty much impossible to permanently delete any comment, picture and such from the internet, and share only if it’s a must. But that’s not all: you have to visit your profile’s settings and make your profile visible to your friends only in order to avoid getting your information collected by other sites without your knowledge or approval. Also, don’t overshare pictures on the internet, starting with the ones where your family members, especially your children, are recognizable.
Use a VPN
Although all of the above options are more than enough to protect your precious online data, one of the most bulletproof methods to assure your online safety is without doubt a Virtual Private Network. Companies offering VPN services have servers spread across various countries, allowing you to connect whichever server you want by simply clicking on a button. Once it’s done, you become invisible to everyone, including your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Aside from granting you the aforementioned invisibleness via military-grade encryptions, many VPNs have so-called built-in ad-blockers too with which you can prevent being bombarded by targeted advertisements. With one of these solutions at your side not only you can navigate the web at will and purchase safely from online stores, but you can also access content that is blocked in your country.