Emails and links

Published February 13, 2017

I opened my email and grinned.
Joan, a friend I hadn't seen in months, had sent me a message.
"This would be fun!" she wrote, pointing me to a link.
Eager to see what it would be, I clicked the link.  
Then I remembered I shouldn’t have. Oops.
Oops, because the email might not have been from friend.
I closed the site her link was pointing to, then admonished myself to be more careful.
With that, I reviewed the tips offered by staysafeonline.org and IRS.gov to make a list of a few ways I could keep myself more secure when I'm online in 2017:
 
Trust no one.
Lesson from the Joan’s email is this: Don’t click on links I don’t expect.
If an email from someone I don’t know – or even know -- points me to a link without much explanation, don't click on it. Because if I do I might wind up on a site that could steal my personal or financial information or infect my computer with a virus, says staysafeonline.org.
 
Only download legit apps
Apps can be great, convenient, life-easing tools. But only download ones from Google Play or the Apple Store, which put each app through extensive vetting before adding them to their catalogue. You never know what’s on apps from other sources. They could be embedded with malware that could hijack your device.
 
Make sure that the sites I shop are secure
Those T-shirts I want come in a dozen colors. And there's a sale on them if I buy RIGHT NOW.
But before I punch in my credit card I need to make sure the site is secure. How? Look at the first few letters of the site’s URL. It should be “https.” The s means it's secure, and safe to use. 
 
Get a good look at who's sending you email.
Cyber criminals are aces at creating emails that look like they’re from brands you know. So if you get a message from a company, check it's legitimacy by calling its offices or by going to its website directly. Remember that financial institutions such as Maps will never solicit personal information from you via email.
 
All these checks and verifications on this list take a little time. But heeding them, as well as other advice posted by sites such as IRS.gov and staysafeonline.org, could make 2017 a safer, more secure year.