Gone are the days when the internet was this safe, secluded island in the sea of communication noise. Everyone can access the online realm in this digital age, and that is a double-edged sword. Opposite to us, the responsible but sometimes naive users, are criminals specializing in all kinds of malicious cyber acts, with phishing, socially engineered malware, and ransomware being their primary modus operandi.
For safe browsing and unlimited use of the internet’s many benefits, we offer you a list of ten essential security measures that should fend off every kind of cyber attack.
Keep Your Browser Nice and Tidy
A browser test by NSS revealed that Microsoft’s new Edge browser tops its main competitors, Google Chrome and Mozzila Fox, regarding security. Whichever you use, don’t leave your privacy settings on default – turn off “cookies” and turn on “block pop-up windows” instead. Also, keep your browser and patches up-to-date, same as your operating system and other software.
Handle Your Passwords with Care
Another privacy setting you should be aware of is the so-called “autofill” option that allows your browser to remember your passwords and automatically fill out credential forms on certain websites. Turn that off as well and start using a separate password manager instead. These convenient apps can store dozens of complex passwords under one main code, thus keeping them all safe and sound.
Consider a Virtual Private Network
A virtual private network (VPN) masks your online credentials, rendering you invisible while browsing the internet. Instead of your unique ID, which VPN encrypts (click here for more information), it assigns you a virtual address that cannot be traced back to you. This helps to protect your sensitive data by making it undisclosed to cybercriminals, but also your dedicated internet service provider and your country’s government.
Learn to Recognize Credible Sites
Online shopping and instant downloading are two of the major benefits of the modern-day internet, but they can, unfortunately, make you vulnerable to cyber attacks too. Before you entrust any website with your sensitive info, check its security protocol. A green padlock on your browser’s address bar is a good sign, while add-ons like HTTPS://Everywhere add one extra layer of protection.
Avoid Torrents and Cloud Storage
Illegal file sharing websites should be avoided for an apparent reason – since unregulated, they can easily provide a gateway for malware to enter your computer. But experts recommend steering clear from cloud storage as well, or at least uploading only encrypted files. A combination of physical backup and reputable cloud storage such as Dropbox should be enough to keep all your data secured.
Practice Two-Factor Authentication
Many trustworthy websites and apps offer two-factor authentication, a security measure designed to provide an additional security layer around your private information. Options for the second authentication factor, added to the traditional password authentication, range from security questions to which only you know the answers for to fingerprints and facial scans unique to the user.
Always Use Anti-Virus Protection
In case a piece of malicious software slips through your fingers and right into your computer, it’s always smart to have anti-virus protection to help you catch it before it does any damage. This applies to every single device you use for browsing the internet, including your laptop, tablet, and smartphone. To stay on the safe side, grab the first Post-It and tape it over your laptop camera.
Never Connect to an Unsecured WiFi
If you do, make sure you’re using a VPN to encrypt your data even if the public WiFi hotspot in question is password-protected. By connecting to an open public network, you’re proceeding at your own peril. For those who enjoy browsing the internet over a latte in a coffee shop, installing a virtual private network app (they are available for both iOS and Android) is generally a wise security move.
Go Incognito on Borrowed Devices
Never log into any password-protected websites from a borrowed device. This is especially important when it comes to sites that contain your personal information, such as banking accounts or social media. It’s advisable to turn on the “incognito” mode whenever you’re using a computer that’s not yours, but be warned that this “anonymity” trick doesn’t mask your ID and information as VPN does.
Don’t Trust Social Networks Blindly
Whatever you’re looking to find on the internet, chances are you’ll visit your favorite social media page at least once. In the aftermath of the recent Facebook data breach scandal, revisiting the privacy settings on these networks would be smart. Do it manually for each account you hold and make sure that no third-party apps are enabled. And, as always, watch what type of info you publish.
Without these ten security measures to safeguard your peace of mind, you can hardly expect to have a pleasurable online experience. When it comes to cybersecurity, it is not a matter of if something bad will happen to your vulnerable software and publicly exposed data. It’s rather a matter of when.