These days it is becoming progressively more difficult to stay safe online. Ransomware and phishing emails are just a few among the many ways to steal personal data or make people pay in order to get their files back. Since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, there are some easy tips you can follow to ensure your safety online.
1. Update your software and apps regularly
Waiting for your phone or computer to install an update may be frustrating but it is worth the wait. Nothing is perfect and almost every operating system has vulnerabilities that hackers will try to exploit to get people’s money and data. Usually, the developers are quicker at discovering those flaws, and release updates that solve the potential problem before it causes real trouble.
For example, the famous Wannacry ransomware wave could have been prevented if users had installed the latest version of Windows, which tackled the security flaw.
2. Create strong passwords
It can’t be emphasized enough, but creating a strong password is crucial to ensure safety of your accounts. Websites with private information and banking are often targeted by hackers and common passwords are easy to break. Digital trends published an overview of the most used passwords in the world; is yours on the list? Check our tips for creating a strong password here.
3. Use 2 step Authentication
Along with a good password, two step authentication adds an extra level of security to your online accounts. Make sure to enable this function for apps that can contain private or sensitive information, like your Google account or your online banking app. That way, even if your password is stolen, hackers would have to get a hold on your phone or biometric data (fingerprints or iris scan) to access your account.
4. Know your privacy limits
Decide how much you would be willing to share with a stranger and do not let internet know more than that. Think in advance, what kind of data you would be willing to share with apps and websites and stick to that decision. This way, next time when a new app asks for more permissions, you’d know better what to do.
5. Use a VPN (especially with public Wi-Fi)
Connecting to public Wi-Fi network in an airport or at a cafe is convenient, but not secure. Other people connected to the same network can intercept information you are sending and receiving. A VPN acts as a bulletproof vest and creates a safe encrypted tunnel for all your traffic online. However, it is also important to choose the right VPN, as free versions have their own risks.
6. Shop through secure websites
Whenever you have to enter your bank card information or home address, make sure that the website starts with “https” and not just “http” as well as has an icon of a padlock in the address line. The “S” in https part stands for ‘secure’. This means that information you exchange with the website, for example your bank account details, is encrypted.
7. Follow the news
While it may seem obvious, being up to date with cyber world news can prevent some hassle in the future. Currently, there are many articles online explaining the risks of clicking on links in your email or using free VPN, and advising on better cyber hygiene. If you know that ransomware reports in your region are on the rise, you will be more careful with your browsing.
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