Ali's top 3 internet safety/browser security tips

For those of you that don’t know me, I am not a School Social Worker, nor do I have any experience in mental health counseling. My degree and experiences are in marketing and public relations, so my topics for the SSWAA blog will be a little different than the others. 😊


At SSWAA, I manage the website, electronic newsletters, advertising/sponsorship partnerships, event support, and any tech-related questions that are thrown my way. I do not consider myself a “techy” person. However, I always seem to be the “go-to” person for all tech related questions. If there’s every something I don’t know, I Google it (or of course ask my IT husband).


My husband is an actual tech pro! It’s what he studied in college and what he does for a full-time job. He’s always informing me about how to be more secure when browsing the internet for work or personal use.



Blog topics for me are a little bit challenging since my professional background and training is a bit different. However, I thought that since we’ve become more digital this past year a blog about tech tips and tricks might be beneficial for all!


Since so many of our members work with sensitive information in regard to students and their families, I thought a good blog topic would be how to be more secure when using the internet or computers. It is becoming a common news headline about data being leaked, private accounts being hacked, and other information held ransom – so I thought what better time to share this information with all of you!


Below are 3 internet tips & tricks for internet and browser security!


1. Setting up a browser profile

Web browsers store lots of information – login information (if you choose to save it), bookmarks, history, etc. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was doing everything under one profile. My husband suggested I set up one for personal “play” and another for work.


Create Chrome browser profiles

Creating different Chrome profiles lets you switch between your work account and your other Google accounts, such as personal or test accounts, without signing out each time.


Add a Chrome profile:

In Chrome browser, at the top right, click Profile.

Click Manage people.

Click Add person.

Choose a name and a photo.

Click Save. A new window will open and ask you to turn on sync.

(Optional) Turn sync on in Chrome with a Google Account for the new profile. Their bookmarks, history, passwords, and other settings will automatically sync.

Using a Chromebook? You can share your Chromebook with other people by adding them to your Chromebook.


Switch to another profile:

In the top-right corner, click your profile icon.

Click the profile you want to switch to.


2. Password management system

How many of you keep your passwords on sticky notes across your desk, in a notebook, or on a file on your computer? Or do you prefer to use the same password for almost all your accounts – maybe switching up a number or adding in a special character? Or are you constantly hitting the “Forgot password” because you can never remember? It can be a challenge to remember all these passwords, but it is incredibly dangerous and risky to reuse the same password or variations of the same password for multiple accounts.


Password managers securely store (and encrypt) your account login information, so you do not have to worry about remembering all those passwords and account logins. In addition to protecting your identity and login credentials, some password managers have a password generator to create strong and incredibly unique passwords, so you do not fall back into the habit of using the same password for multiple accounts.

When looking into password managers, do your research and if you choose a free password manager, read the reviews first. There are so many out there including LastPass (what I use), BitWarden, 1Password, Dashlane and so many more! Check them out and find the one that works best for you and your needs!

3. Browse incognito (or private) on desktop – super helpful when booking a vacation or using a shared computer

I randomly learned about browsing incognito (or private browsing) when I was doing research for our family vacation a few years ago. I was reading a travel blog about how to find cheap airline tickets, hotels and other vacation necessities when I learned that so many of those websites keep track of your searches and will even increase prices if your following airline ticket costs for destinations for specific time frames! Stupid cookies! When you browse incognito mode, websites are unable to pull information about you and it is not saved in your browser history. Browsing incognito is not a protection against viruses and malware nor does it keep your internet service provider from seeing where you’ve been online.


According to Mozilla.org, “Just because you’re using private browsing mode doesn’t mean you’re up to something nefarious. Perhaps you want to keep your work and personal life separate. You might share a computer or device and you don’t want your siblings snooping. You could be shopping for a gift and you don’t want anything to spoil the surprise. Or maybe you just want to limit the amount of data companies collect about you and you value privacy. Incognito or private browsing mode is made for any of these scenarios.”


If you’re interested in learning how to browse incognito or private, you’ll need to follow the instructions based on the browser you use.


Google Chrome –

• On your computer, open Chrome.

• At the top right, click More and then New Incognito Window.

• A new window appears. In the top corner, check for the Incognito icon Incognito.


You can also use a keyboard shortcut to open an Incognito window:


Windows, Linux, or Chrome OS: Press Ctrl + Shift + n.

Mac: Press ⌘ + Shift + n.


View more for Google Chrome here.

 

Microsoft Edge –

You can open an InPrivate window in different ways:

• Right-click the Microsoft Edge logo in the taskbar and select New InPrivate window.

• In Microsoft Edge, right-click a link and select Open link in InPrivate window.

• In Microsoft Edge, select Settings and more > New InPrivate window.


View more for Microsoft Edge here.

 

Mozilla Firefox –

• Open a new private window from the Firefox menu

• Click the menu button and then click “New Private Window”

• The Private Browsing home page will open in a new window.


View more for Mozilla Firefox here.

 

Those are my top 3 internet safety/browser security tips for you this month. But I’m including a bonus in here as well just for you! Learning shortcuts is so much fun for me because not only does it save time, but it’s like a secret passcode your computer is sharing with you! In addition to the Copy (Control+C), Paste (Control+V), and Undo (Control+Z) shortcuts, I’m going to share some of the others that may come in handy.

  • If you’ve accidentally, closed out of a tab – no fear! – Hold Control+Shift+T

  • Need to quickly lock your computer while you step away? – Hold the Windows button+L

  • Need to take a quick screenshot on your desktop? – Hold Windows button+Shift+S

I hope this has been a helpful resource for you! If it’s not new to you then hopefully it was a refresher or a reminder that security in today’s digital age is so important. I know each of you are taking the necessary actions to keep your work information safe, but it’s just as important to keep your personal information safe as well.