Using the Internet and surfing the web can be easy and fun. Information is readily available and the world seems a smaller place with the rapid connectivity. Social Networking platforms add to the excitement of Internet communication and provide a medium where personal information co-exists with corporate information. However, the fun-ride that the Internet seemingly provides is often ridden with problems.

The real-time thriving audience hooked to the Internet is the reason why the Internet is popular for identity thefts, phishing attacks, and malware threats. There are, however, ways that you can stay safe while using the Internet.

Be very careful while giving personal information, including full name, address or phone numbers online. Do remember that there are strangers and imposters looking for bits of information that they can use to their benefit. Don’t disclose birthdates. (Something that banks use to identify customers with) You can choose a secret language or password to differentiate your friends from strangers.

If you don’t have security software on your PC, don’t open e-mail attachments from people or sources you don’t recognize. Such e-mails usually contain viruses or spyware that can harm your computer or steal your data.

Is your inbox is flooded with spoof email claiming to be from Honda, PayPal, eBay or any reputed bank or company asking for personal or sensitive information? This is called phishing. Think about it, why would BBC all of a sudden decide to give you £100,000? And ask for your bank account number followed by a small request to transfer an amount as deposit to an anonymous account somewhere! Simply redirect such emails to your ‘junk’ folder or mark them as spam. Forward any of these e-mails to the company it claims to be sent from. They will confirm whether the e-mail you received was real or not. E-mail programs like Yahoo!, MSN, and Gmail will never ask you for your e-mail password; don't fall for it.

Unless you are shopping with a reputed online business avoid giving away your bank account or credit card information. Reliable companies will have security devices in place. You may see a gold lock at the bottom of the page to indicate a secure site. When giving any bank details or other information, make sure the connection is secure (URLs like this begin with https, a colon (:), and two slashes (//)) and the site is perfectly trustworthy. Not every site which runs HTTPS or accepts payments is trustworthy.

There are many sites that request you to fill in a survey questionnaire. Make sure you read the fine print at the bottom that asks you if you want to receive the information, answer the survey or other terms and conditions. In case you decide to fill in online forms or questionnaires, fill in the fields that are marked with a * and leave out the rest.

Remember to change your passwords every month. Be innovative with passwords and make them alphanumeric. Passwords should be difficult to guess and you can jot down these passwords in a notepad and keep it safe.

Treat the Internet with respect and be careful what you say or post. Refrain from mindless blab on the Internet and from using it as your personal diary. There is a simple idea behind this – companies often scout for talent on the Internet and if you have official contacts on social networking sites that you are on, what you say today could keep you from getting hired to your dream job five years from now. Remember, once you put your information on the Internet, you don't know whose hands it will fall into.

If you are the adventurous type and decide to meet someone in person from online, meet in a public place and let friends and family know of your plans. Always remember to have a plan B ready if things turn out badly.

Use parental controls when children have access to your PC or laptop. The fact is Internet isn’t child friendly. Have parental controls in place and monitor their Internet activities. You can ask your preteens to write down every website that they visit. Don’t allow your children sign-up for sites like Facebook unless they meet the age-criteria.

If your child already has a Facebook account then keep an eye on that account. Report any cases of bullying or indecent behavior.

Install good anti-virus software. They will block most attempts and alert you if problems are found. There are antivirus tools like Quick Heal which has several features like AntiVirus, AntiSpyware, AntiMalware, AntiSpam, AntiPhishing, Parental Control, PC2Mobile, PCTuner, etc. Such AntiVirus software give multi-layered protection for your PC along with added security for your mobile phones.