Top 10 tips to protect yourself while using the internet
Doing business online can be safe—as long as you know who you're dealing with and take proper precautions. Read this list to learn how to protect yourself and your computer or personal device.
- Check and update the software on your computer and personal device, including Windows operating systems (and others like Mac OS) and web browsers. Threats from viruses and attackers often take advantage of vulnerabilities in these software packages. Most vendors offer ways for customers to keep their software up-to-date. Contact the software vendor directly to access any available updates.
- Install antivirus/antispyware software on your computer to protect it and detect and remove viruses. Make sure your software is up to date. Because new viruses appear daily, your antivirus/antispyware software is only as good as its last update. Contact the software vendor directly to access available updates.
- Install software for spam filtering and spam blocking. Some antivirus/antispyware software packages include these features. Check with your software vendor for the features available with your software.
- Be wary of e-mail offers that come from a source you don't recognize. If you believe an e-mail is fraudulent, don't reply to the e-mail, click any links within the e-mail, or open any attachments.
- Be wary of any e-mail or popup messages declaring your accounts are in jeopardy or asking for personal information. Scammers typically use scare tactics to get people to react immediately.
- Don't respond to "spammed" e-mails. If an e-mail seems suspicious, don't click the link asking to be taken off the sender's list. A response only confirms the accuracy of your e-mail address and may result in even more messages filling up your inbox. (One way to avoid getting spam is to not post your e-mail address to chat rooms, instant message services, or internet bulletin boards and newsgroups.)
- Never submit your credit card details or other personal information on nonsecure websites. Before submitting your user name and password to log on, make sure your browser window displays the closed padlock symbol and the URL begins with "https://". Secure webpages show a locked padlock icon that appears in yellow, or in a yellow box, at the bottom of the web browser screen. When you log on to Vanguard's site, we'll only ask for your user name and password. We don't ask for personal information, such as Social Security numbers, when logging on to your Vanguard account.
- Never share your user names and passwords or store them unencrypted on your computer or personal device.
- Be cautious when using public personal devices (including those at libraries, internet cafés, and schools) and when traveling abroad, or using shared ones, such as home computers. You don't know what may be installed on these computers. Public computers are traditionally on open networks and can be susceptible to malware and monitoring without your knowledge.
- After you've accessed sensitive account information online, log off the website and close your web browser or mobile app. (On vanguard.com, click Log off at the top of the page.)