The internet can be a wonderful tool when used safely. Please review the basic tips below to help you navigate the internet.

Avoid Viruses

A virus can harm your computer or access information on your computer’s hard drive. Use virus protection software (like the ones mentioned in this guide) and never download email attachments from somebody you do not know or download programs from websites that you do not trust. 

Avoid Pop-Ups

Pop-ups are ads that may appear outside of your internet browser window when you visit some websites. They may contain buttons, links, flashing lights, animation, or sounds. Avoid clicking on pop-ups. Use the “F6” key on your keyboard to close any pop-up windows. 

Be Mindful of Cookies

Some websites store your information using “cookies.” Cookies store your data and may recall your data whenever you visit a website. You have the option of adjusting your security settings to block cookies, but some websites do require cookies to function. 

Use Secure Web Pages

If you are providing sensitive information, such as credit card information or personal information, be sure that the website you are using is secure. Only enter information into websites that you trust. An easy trick is to double-check the website URL for typos and be aware of other red flags like blurry logos. 

Beware of Phishing

If you receive an email from somebody you do not know, use caution when responding. Be sure the email is legitimate and do not give out any personal information. If you are not sure about an email, try to find a way (call, or visit the company’s website) to ask the person who supposedly sent it if they really sent you an email. Check the URLs of any links provided to be sure they are legitimate (usually you can do this by hovering the mouse over the link). If you believe the email is not legitimate, do not respond. 

Avoid Scams

If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Use the same caution when interacting with strangers on the internet as you would interacting with strangers on the street. Avoid check-cashing scams, false offers of employment, or untrustworthy requests for personal information that are commonly found on websites such as Craigslist. 

Avoid Using Debit Cards

If you have a credit card, do not use your debit card when shopping online. It is more difficult to recover these funds in case of theft. Only enter your debit or credit card information on a secure website. 

Protect Your Personal Information    

When you receive a request for personal information, be cautious about sharing it. Never transmit your social security number on the internet, and be cautious when sharing information such as your full name, birthdate, address, or phone number. Only enter your credit card information on a secure website. 

Understand Your Privacy    

Information transmitted on the Internet should not be considered private. Use caution when publishing any personal information or pictures on social networking sites, websites, or blogs, because this information may be visible to others, including a family member, a coworker, an employer, or a total stranger. Once information is online it may be impossible to remove, so you should never share anything you would not want publicly shared.