Protect While You Connect — How to Stay Safe Online

Adobe Acrobat Version (PDF  1,570 KB)

Know the Risks

Taking control of your own cyber security begins with understanding one simple fact: that the Internet can be a hazardous place.

Whether you're banking, connecting with friends, working, or just passing the time, when you're online you are never alone. Just as you'd watch your back, your family, and your belongings in a busy public place, you need to be equally cautious online.

Protecting yourself can be easy when you make cyber safety a priority and become aware of the most common threats and risks to your online security.

Stay informed
As cyber risks and threats are constantly evolving, please visit Getcybersafe.gc.ca for more information.

Protect Your Identity. Protect Your Money. Protect Your Family.

Here are some simple tips to keep safe online. Get more tips and details at Getcybersafe.gc.ca.

Creating and Using Passwords

  • Make sure your password has at least eight characters and does not spell a single dictionary word.
  • Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, at least one number, and a character that isn't a letter or number.
  • Change your password often.
  • Commit it to memory, rather than keeping it written down or saved on your devices.
  • Use different passwords for different accounts, rather than one "master" password.
  • Avoid using automatic login features that save your username and password.

Sharing Information

  • Be careful sharing your location, work schedule, or vacation details. These tell people when your home is empty, and where you can be found.
  • Be extra careful about giving out your social insurance number (SIN).
  • Remember that phone numbers and email addresses posted online are often collected by spammers and scammers.
  • Never share information that provides clues to your passwords (pets' names, mother's maiden name, etc.).

Clicking Shared Links

  • Do not reply to, or click on links in any email that looks suspicious.
  • Always be wary of emails from financial institutions, Internet service providers and other organizations asking you to provide personal information online. If in doubt, call the company directly.
  • Remember that links apparently shared by friends can be malicious, especially if their accounts have been compromised.

Online Banking and Shopping

  • Choose strong passwords for your banking and online investment accounts and keep them private.
  • When making transactions online, look for the lock symbol on the website or "https://" at the beginning of the website address, an indication that the site is encrypted.
  • Always enter the website address in the browser yourself—never use a link.
  • When you're banking online, never use public Wi-Fi or public computers.
  • When you're finished a transaction, log out, close the browser window, delete your browser history, and disconnect.
  • When disposing of an old computer or other device, erase all personal data.

Protect Your Devices

Many of us switch back and forth between devices: from computers and cell phones to tablets and laptops. These devices store emails, online account logins, schedules, and other sensitive personal and professional information.

Password Protect Every Device

Making sure your computer or device is password-protected is one of the most effective ways of keeping your device secure from cyber criminals who might try to log in and access your files and data.

Keep Security Software Updated

Today's malware and viruses are serious threats that can destroy your computer, steal your identity and infect your entire digital network of friends, family and associates.

  • Run the anti-virus/anti-spyware software and do a scan of your hard drive and files as soon as it's installed. Schedule it to run regularly.
  • Always keep software up to date.
  • Never trust security updates from pop-up ads or emails. The pop-up may be malware masked as an anti-spyware program.

Enable Firewall Security

  • Check to see that it is turned "on", and ensure that it's updated regularly. Your operating system's (OS) help menu or online help should be able to guide you.
  • If your OS doesn't include a firewall, install your own firewall software. Look online for programs from credible companies.

Browser and OS Security

  • Use the drop down menus on your browser to set your options. Always set your own options for optimum security.
  • Clear your cache and your browsing history at the end of your session, so that you don't leave a record of sensitive data.
  • Keep your browser and OS updated with the newest version.
  • OS manufacturers release regular updates called 'patches' or 'fixes' to improve security. Enable automatic updates so your device will download and install these fixes as soon as they're available.

Get Cyber Safe

Get Cyber Safe is a national public awareness campaign created to educate Canadians about Internet security and the simple steps they can take to protect themselves online.

Learn more about how to stay safe online, and what to do if your online security is compromised, by visiting Getcybersafe.gc.ca.

Date modified: