eing a good digital citizen is vital to help you and your family stay safer online. Follow these six essential steps to protect your devices, information, and family on the Internet.
Defend your computer
- Keep all software (including your web browser) current with Microsoft Update.
- Install legitimate antivirus and antispyware software, such as Microsoft Security Essentials.
- Keep your firewall turned on.
- Protect your wireless router with a password.
- Don’t put an unknown flash (or thumb) drive into your computer. If it has a virus, it could infect your computer.
- Before you open an attachment or click a link in an email message, an instant message (IM), or on a social network, confirm with the sender that the message is legitimate.
- Don’t click links or buttons in a pop-up window that seems suspicious.
Learn more about how to defend your computer.
Protect sensitive personal information
- Before you enter sensitive data in a web form or on a webpage, look for signs—like a web address with https and a closed padlock () beside it—that it is secure.
- Never give sensitive information (like an account number or password) in response to a request in an email message, IM, or on a social network.
- Don’t respond to pleas for money from “family members,” deals that sound too good to be true, lotteries you didn’t enter, or other scams.
Learn more about secure websites, how to recognize phishing email messages, links, or phone calls, and how to help protect your personal and financial information on the Internet.
Create strong passwords and keep them secret
- Create passwords that are made up of long phrases or sentences that mix capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Use different passwords for different sites, especially those that keep financial information.
- Use our password checker to learn how strong your passwords are.
Learn more about how to create strong passwords.
Take charge of your online safety and reputation
Discover what is on the Internet about you and periodically evaluate what you find. Cultivate a positive reputation.
Learn more about how to manage your online reputation.
Use social networks more safely
- Look for Settings or Options in services like Facebook and Twitter to manage who can see your profile or photos tagged with your name, control how people can search for you and make comments, and how to block people.
- Do not post anything you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard.
- Be selective about the friends you accept. Periodically assess who has access to your pages, and review what they post about you.
Learn more about how to stay safer on social networking sites.
Talk to your kids about staying safer online
To make online safety a family effort, use a mix of guidance and monitoring with your children. Negotiate clear guidelines for web and online game use that fit your kids’ maturity and your family’s values. Pay attention to what your kids do and who they meet online.