In a world that’s run by modern inventions and hi-tech gadgets which are connected by a big network called the Internet, it is hard to ignore all the news that tell of the horrors which unprotected browsing can result to.
From identity theft to fraudulent credit card transactions, you surely have heard enough of these bad news for you to start feeling concerned about your safety and security online.
And it’s not just individual Internet users who fall victim to these cyber-criminals, and other online threats, even big companies, and banking institutions do. It is estimated that there are up to 4 new malicious programs that get developed every single second making the Internet even more dangerous.
With all the threats out there that are lurking around the dark corners of the Internet, knowing some fundamental ways to protect yourself is crucial. Here are a handful of security tips that you can follow to help reduce the risks of these threats getting access to any of your vital information while you’re surfing the web.
1. Make Your Passwords Hack-Proof
Passwords are an essential layer of protection for all your online accounts including your financial information which is a gold mine in the eyes of most hackers. Creating a password that is hard to crack makes it essential for keeping all your accounts secure.
Always remember not to reuse passwords and if possible, don’t list them down in any of your devices or gadgets. Write them somewhere where only you can access them or better yet, write them down in your memory to be sure. You can use a password manager tool like LastPass if you’re not that good at memorizing your passwords in every account that you have.
Password managers help store your hard to memorize passwords in a safe place. Yes! They can keep even the hardest passwords that you created and is virtually impossible to remember. Some of these tools can also generate automated passwords for you but don’t worry, every one of them is going to be encrypted for your overall safety and peace of mind.
In the list below, you will find some useful tips that you can apply whenever you create a password for any of your online accounts especially those that give access to your finances.
- Avoid using the same passwords for both your online and offline accounts
- Never use your name or your birthday or any words related to such necessary information about you.
- Avoid using the name of your pet, son, daughter, best friend or anyone that’s close to you. Create a password from random things
- A secure password is one that combines letters, numbers and special characters altogether. Be sure to use a combination of capital and small letters to make it harder to crack
- Create passwords that exceed the standard 8 characters. Don’t go any lower than 8 characters
- Make it a habit to change your passwords on a regular basis (at least once every 2-3 months)
- Never share our password/s unless it is needed and only to someone you trust. After sharing it, change it immediately the at the soonest time possible
- Use password management tools such as LastPass and others. Most of them have basic versions that are free to use
2. Take Advantage of Two-Factor Authentication
Hackers are finding more and more ways of hacking accounts. To keep you safe from these criminals, most online services have now offered what is called a “two-factor authentication.” This refers to an additional layer of protection for your accounts, and they do it by sending a verification/authentication code to your mobile number.
So you will receive it via SMS and the code sent to you needs to be inputted into a text box during login to have full access to the account itself. So hackers may have your username or email, but without your smartphone to which verification codes will be sent, they can never log in to your account.
3. Firewalls Help
Now that you have secure passwords for every one of your accounts, it is time to work on strengthening another aspect that allows you to enjoy access to the Internet. Yes! You will need to make sure that your network is safe and secure using a firewall.
Firewalls work by blocking unauthorized access to a network. It is there to ensure that every device that’s connected to the network itself such as laptops, desktops, smartphones, smart TVs, webcams, tablets and even IoT (Internet of Things) gadgets and devices are all secure.
Firewalls are a crucial component of a network because of the fact that not all of the devices that are entirely secure. This means that one or two of the devices that you have connected to your network may serve as a weak link which can become an entry point for hackers. Most routers today have built-in Firewall so you can be confident that your network is safe if ever you have one.
4. Always Find Time to Clear Your Cache
Your browser keeps a record of your online activities which can be of good use to hackers. They can use it to find out which websites you frequently visit and attack you from there. So be sure to clear the cache for every device that you have at home or even in your office. Yes! It includes the cache in every browser on your laptop, desktop computer, smartphone, and others that you use to access the Internet. If you don’t know how to do it, here’s a simple guide for Google Chrome and if you’re using Firefox, you can follow the steps given in this article.
5. Be Sure That You’re Using Secured Connection (https://)
When shopping or paying for online purchases, make sure that the beginning of the site where you’re entering your personal and financial information has a green padlock icon with “https://” at the beginning. This means that you are browsing on a secure website with an additional layer of protection. The HTTPS protocol encrypts the connection between your browser and the website server.
So be sure to look for a green padlock icon or HTTPS:// before the name of the site to which you are entering your name, credit card, address and other sensitive information into. By doing this, you can be assured of the security and safety of the browsing session you’re currently engaged in.
6. Think Before You Click
This isn’t new information, but it’s one of the most effective ways of staying safe while doing your usual online activities. Most of us have already been victims to clickbait stuff found all over the Intenet, and these malicious codes and stuff are increasing in number every single day.
Before clicking on something that you see on a website, always ask yourself “What’s this all about?”, “Does it sound too good to be true offer?” or “Is this the software I wanted to download?”
Also, be on the watch for emails that sound suspicious. Hackers can collect sensitive information through “phishing” or sending emails that are disguised to be something that’s sent by the victim’s bank asking for the recipient to update his/her sensitive information. If you receive an email that asks you to do such things or takes you to an unknown website then you better just ignore it.
Always be cautious and avoid entering your sensitive information into a suspicious website. Look for the green padlock or the “https://” prefix in the URL. This will give you an idea that the site itself is safe.
7. Avoid Using Free Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is a good way of saving data, but you need to be careful when using such free services in public places where hundreds of people are connected simultaneously. Open networks are a favorite spot of hackers who are trying to steal sensitive information from other users. Yes! They can take your password using a keylogger, so it’s best to avoid using public Wi-Fi as much as possible.
8. Develop a Habit of Updating Your Software
Updates contain important security patches and improvements that can help protect your devices whether it’s your laptop, smartphone, desktop computer or even your smart TV and other IoT devices. While hackers continually develop new techniques of infiltrating different devices, manufacturers also improve the software to fix vulnerabilities that can be exploited by these cyber-criminals. But of course, as a user, you need to install those updates to your devices and make it a habit!
9. Use VPN
Lastly, you can add another layer of protection for yourself by using what is called a Virtual Private Network or VPN. VPN services give secure access to any website by allowing users to browse the Internet via a private network anonymously. Every user who accesses the Internet using such service are entirely safe and browsing sessions remain private. There is even an option for you to pretend that you’re coming from a different country. If you’re looking to have secure browsing all the time, then VPNs are worth looking into!
You can combine 2 to 3 of the tips above and implement it on your devices, or you may also apply all of them to make your online and offline accounts secure all the time. Of course, it’s still recommended that you use antivirus or internet security program to keep your devices secure all the time even when you’re not using them.