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Ten Tips for Staying Safe and Secure Online

When using a PC, tablet and smartphone, a secure Internet connection is indispensable. With the following 10 security tips from the experts at the AV-TEST Institute, users can easily navigate around the dangers that lurk on the Internet and use online services and devices without security concerns.

Following these 10 tips from the experts at AV-TEST can ensure totally-secure Internet use.

The AV-TEST website provides free information as to which software is best at protecting your PCs, smartphones and tablets from dangers on the Web.

Making backup copies of vital data ensures that you will be on the safe side even in case of virus attacks.

Before discarding old devices, be sure to securely delete any data stored on them using special software.

Tip 1: Use the latest security software

Internet security packages offer the best protection against Trojans, viruses and other malware applications. This combination of virus protection, a firewall, spam filters and other functions can also protect PCs, smart phones and tablets from additional threats from the Internet, e.g. hacker attacks. The products performing the best in this category can be found in the latest tests on the AV-TEST Institute's website.

Tip 2: Always stay up-to-date

Online attacks mostly occur via security gaps in programs, the operating system or the browser. Per Internet update, manufacturers regularly shut down any known security leaks in their programs. That is why all applications should always be kept up-to-date. This also applies to security software. Per Internet, this software regularly receives current information on the detection of malware applications. Updates for Android, Mac OS and Windows should be performed regularly and promptly.

Tip 3: Choose secure passwords

In selecting passwords, users should be as creative as possible and use a different password for each online account! A good password has at least eight characters. The most secure is a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers as well as special characters. Some that are easy to remember include passwords that consist of the initial letters of song lyrics, along with the year in which they were released. Freeware password managers can also be helpful in administering many passwords. Naturally passwords should be kept secret.

Tip 4: Encrypted connections for secure data transfer

Whenever possible, data transfer to websites, e.g. when engaging in online shopping, banking or email retrieval, should be performed via encrypted connections. Encrypted connections are denoted by a URL that begins with "https" instead of instead of only "http". In addition, browsers display a closed padlock icon for encrypted connections.

Tip 5: Caution when using public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi's are practical when briefly surfing the web or determining your current location with a smartphone. They are not suited for online banking and the transfer of critical data, however, as you usually do not know who is running the network and how secure it is. That is why is better to retrieve from home any data worth protecting, and you should avoid accessing important online accounts when out and about. If it is necessary to send sensitive data over a public Wi-Fi, the use of so-called VPN software is recommended. Via a so-called virtual private network (VPN), the data transfer from the public Wi-Fi is securely encrypted.

Tip 6: Be stingy when providing personal details

Personal information provided on websites, in programs and in apps is frequently disclosed or even sold to third parties. That is why at the maximum, users should only fill out required fields and disclose as few personal details as possible. Normally it is stated in the general terms and conditions and privacy policies of online services, software and app providers how data is used.

Tip 7: Beware of free stuff

The age-old words of advice apply on the Web as well: "Trust, but be careful whom you trust!" In case of apps free of charge, freeware and Web offers, you should always ask yourself of what benefit the information may be to providers. Because often users pay for the use of these applications by supplying data that is in turn monetized by providers of seemingly free offers. Addresses or other details are then exploited in the future, for example, to bombard the user with unwanted advertising.

Tip 8: Use secure sources

Files, programs and apps should only be opened and installed if they originate from trustworthy sources. The latest browser versions, as well as security programs, warn users of known risky online sources. It is best to obtain apps only directly from the Google Play Store and the app stores from Apple and Microsoft.

Tip 9: Back up data regularly

There is a risk of data being lost not only when devices are lost, stolen and destroyed. Also in case of a ransomware attack by encryption Trojans, making regular data backups reduces the risk of being extorted by criminals. Vital data should be backed up regularly using backup software on an external drive or other storage media. Relevant backup applications are available as freeware on the Web.

Tip 10: Delete data properly

Before discarding a PC, cell phone, disk drive or USB stick, the data contained on it should be properly deleted. When deleting data using the delete functions of Windows, Android and iOS, sensitive data is not reliably purged and can be easily reconstructed using data recovery applications. Data can be securely purged using special programs that overwrite the data multiple times with random data so that not everyone will be able to reconstruct it. These deletion programs are also available as freeware on the Web.

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