We are on the internet constantly the average American spends about 23.6 hours online a week. In this digital age, it’s not really all that surprising, you can do nearly anything you need to do via the internet, from banking to entertainment, shopping to research, and work to school. With so much of our lives spent online, it’s easy to forget one crucial fact:

The internet can be dangerous

Any website can be the target of a cyber-attack, with the end goal being to steal data, time, money, identity from you, from adware to ransomware, just opening an infected webpage can be all the invitation a bad piece of programming needs to wreak havoc on your system. One wrong click and before you know it, your identity has been stolen, your bank account is empty, or all your data is being held,hostage.

There is no way to protect yourself 100% from bad websites. However, there is a lot you can do to decrease your risk. Here are some tips to help keep you safe while browsing the web.

  1. Install an antivirus

Alas, none are perfect, an antivirus is a good first line of defense against websites with malicious code. An up-to-date antivirus program can detect and remove malware on your machine. It can also help prevent drive-by downloads or malicious software that downloads itself to your computer when you mistakenly visit an infected website. Unfortunately, since it relies on definitions of already-known malware, it will not always catch newly released malware.

  1. Keep an eye on the web address

We all make typos, unfortunately, some hackers will count on this, for example, a malicious hacker may create and register a website at yhaoo.com, hoping to catch you accidentally mistyping the name of the popular search engine. Be very careful when typing out URLs.

Pay close attention to any links you’re about to click on. If you can’t see the link, hover your mouse over the highlighted word until the actual link pops up in a small box near your mouse. Read it carefully. If any part of it looks misspelled or suspicious, don’t click!

  1. Look for the lock and the ‘https’ in your links

This is especially important when using any sort of website that requires you to enter a username, password, credit card information, etc. (such as online shopping or a bank). Websites that start with ‘https’ encrypt data before sending it out, protecting it from anybody who manages to intercept it. When you visit a page, it should look like this in the browser bar:

  1. Use common sense

When it comes to safe surfing, you are the first and last line of defense. If you’re not sure about something, trust your instincts. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and it’s no different with the internet.

While this is in no way everything how to safely surf the internet, it’s a good start. Tread carefully, and hopefully, you’ll stay safe.