9 ways to stay safe online this summer

Summer is in full swing. Here are our best safety and security tips for the season.

  1. Don’t broadcast vacation plans on your social networking sites. If you’re leaving your home unoccupied and at risk for potential burglary, you might want to wait to post your vacation photographs until you return home. Get more tips for email and social networking safety.
  2. Limit who knows your location. Before you go on vacation, take a few minutes to adjust settings for sharing your location on your social networking sites and any apps on your smartphone. If you have kids who go online, make sure they know this, too. For more information, see Use location services more safely.
  3. Set computer and device rules for when you’re not around. If your kids are old enough to stay home alone when they’re not at school, make sure you talk to them about Internet safety. Download our tip sheet for pointers to jump-start—or continue—online safety conversations.
  4. Learn how to use parental controls. All Microsoft products include built-in privacy controls and safeguards that put you in charge of your children’s entertainment experiences and allow you to customize how personal information is, or is not, shared. Get step-by-step guidance on how to switch on safety settings across Microsoft technology and devices at home.
  5. Stay safe when playing games online. If your children’s summer sport of choice is the Xbox, Xbox One, Kinect, or other online or console game, learn about the core family safety features of Xbox One and find other ways to help kids play it safe.
  6. Update your software on your laptop or tablet. Before you go on vacation, make sure all your software is updated, to help prevent problems caused by hackers. If your laptop is still running Windows XP, read about the end of support for Windows XP.
  7. Check the security level of public Wi-Fi networks before you use them. Choose the most secure connection—even if that means you have to pay for access. A password-protected connection (ideally one that is unique for your use) is better than one without a password. Both Windows 7 and Windows 8 can help you evaluate and minimize network security risks.
  8. Avoid typing sensitive information on your laptop using an unsecured wireless connection. If possible, save your financial transactions for after your summer vacation on a secured home connection. For more information, see How to know if a financial transaction is secure.
  9. Watch out for suspicious messages from your friends on vacation asking for money. This is a common scam cybercriminals use when they’ve hacked into someone’s account. Find a different way to contact your friend. Learn more about scam email messages.
About the Author
Eve Blakemore

Group Manager, Trustworthy Computing

Eve Blakemore is a Group Manager for Trustworthy Computing who delivers consumer guidance around the latest trends in security and privacy. Eve joined Microsoft in 1998 and has worked in corporate and field roles with Microsoft Learning, US Public Sector, Read more »

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  1. Anonymous

    Great tips Eve, thanks.

  2. Anonymous

    I have windows XP and a notice from you says that my PC is not protected. What do I do now?

  3. Anonymous

    Good stuff…

  4. Anonymous

    Except that it's currently Winter 🙂

  5. Anonymous

    Audrey, don't get paranoid, first off XP is protected just fine as long as your computers software firewall is up, and if you're on a router from your cable or phone company they use a hardware firewall, thus you have two firewalls up and going at the same time.  Secondly if your passwords are long and combine small cap letters with large cap letters with numbers and special characters all jumbled together a password generator will have an extremely difficult time finding it because of the trillions of possibilities there are.  Thirdly most hackers do not really have any interest attacking a small person, especially if it's going to take a long time to penetrate the computer, they want someone or some company who has a lot to lose.  So in reality an attack to steal vital information on a small private person is extremely remote.  What any computer operating system has to worry about is viruses and the sort, Windows 7 or 8 CANNOT fully protect against those either just as XP couldn't.  Going back to what I said about hackers not wanting to waste time on a small person, they are however willing to spend time to try to hack banks and corporations that use credit cards which your computer can't stop because it's not your computer they're going after, so the best you can do to protect that stuff is to make sure you have a tough long password and change it every 30 days.  I know it's a huge hassle to have to make passwords like that and then have to change it all the time but such is the world we live in.  

  6. Anonymous

    What froze said makes sense , another myth is never write your passwords down , this also applies only to important people and companies. For the home user you just want people on line not to see your passwords . A good old fashioned address book makes a great password book for about 3 bucks and because their written down you feel more confident making the passwords  complex.

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