Your online security has never been more critical than it is now. With more and more people using online services and even more cybercriminals looking to exploit those living digitally, being able to stay safe when conducting digital activities should be paramount for everyone.
It's thought there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds, and falling victim to any type of hack, cyber threat, scam, or other criminal activity can have massive implications on your life.
This post is going to look at some of the best ways you can protect yourself online to ensure you don't compromise your identity or safety.
Use A VPN
A vpn is a virtual private network that establishes a connection between you and a remote server. It allows you to border the internet securely and desire that none of your data is shared, be it your location, digital habits or anything else you get up to online.
However, it's important to know that while VPNs encrypt your data and offer you some levels of protection, they're not a complete security package on their own and are best used in conjunction with other measures for complete security and privacy online.
Using outdated devices and software will leave you vulnerable to hacks and cyber attacks from people looking to exploit weaknesses in the software. Software updates allow developers to identify issues, fix them, and then roll them out to users to offer added protection and features.
Neglecting to keep your software updated, even your mobile phone software, can leave you at risk from threats that have been identified and viruses or malware that will take full advantage of these issues. Set your devices to accept automatic updates so you don't miss anything and are always up-to-date and secure.
Monitor Your Social Media Settings and Usage
Cybercriminals can glean a lot of information from your social media accounts. In the first instance, you need to go into each platform and check your settings. You want it locked down to private so you can limit who can access your accounts and what you share. You also want to make sure that you have a strong password and use additional authentication steps to help secure your account.
From here, you need to be mindful of what you share, too. For example, try not to update where you are in real-time and save tagging places or locations until you have left so people can't track you. Avoid connecting to third-party apps you don't know much about, as they are often used to mine data and will typically learn more about you than you realise. Avoid accepting friend requests from people you don't know or clicking links in messages pertaining to the platform itself, as generally, these are phishing scams, and as soon as you log in and enter any details, they have your account. Always delete the message and change your password by logging onto the social media site in your usual way.
Clear Your Cache
Never underestimate how much your browser collects during your time online. Your browser will save searches, cookies, search information and more from each session until you clear it.
You can use the browser setting to clear the data held by the browser and either completely delete it or choose which settings to delete. Or you can use Ctrl+Shift+Del to open up a dialogue that lets you choose what to delete and what to keep.
If passwords are the bane of your life, then you need to rethink how you approach them. Your passwords are integral to the security of all of your online accounts. Even logging into your device needs a secure password so people cannot access all of your details.
Some top tips for secure passwords and password activity include
Not using a saved password features in browsers.
Using a password manager or store and suggest strong passwords
Use a combination of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols in your password.
Combine random three or four-letter words to create a password, e.g. helptimepull, as these will be harder to guess; add in random capital letters, numbers and symbols to make it more challenging still, for example, hElptImepUll258$ will add additional security to your account.
Use different passwords (this is work; the password manager and generator come in handy) for different accounts.
Change passwords regularly.
Staying safe online should be something that you pay attention to, and knowing what you can do and what to avoid will help you avoid common pitfalls associated with cybercrime and ensure that you make it as hard as possible for people to get a hold of your information or complete some of the more common online scams.