You cannot imagine today’s world without the Internet. With even more & more countries, states, cities and county’s getting connected over the Internet, the world is getting closer than ever before. The Internet is a boon for businesses and people alike.
However, it is equally dangerous if you’re aren’t careful. With so many demanding apps, social media sites & websites, people are continuously sharing personal data through them. Cybercriminals are scanning every piece of information that can be utilized to exploit you.
A report points out that almost half of the youngsters have received threatening or awful messages online. The study further found a connection between extensive social media use & mental ill-health.
Why is it important to be safe and secure online?
With so much information about you available on the Internet, it is very easy for criminals to compile information about you through various channels & use it against you.
The risk intensifies, even more, when hackers break into databases of popular apps or websites where all the user information can be easily found.
This is why you should always take the necessary steps to be safe and secure when you are online.
How to protect yourself and your devices (smartphones/tablets) online
The first step towards Internet safety is to secure the primary link between you & the Internet. Mostly they are your smartphones, tablets, PCs, Laptops, and more.
Here are some tips & safety measures to practice for a safe & secured online experience.
Use a Password Manager
You will be surprised to know that even today, the most common password in the world is ‘123456’ & it takes less than a second to hack it. With so many sign-in pages and accounts that you need to sign in to every day, keeping a common password for all of them seems a pretty obvious choice.
It is one of the worst mistakes. It can put all your accounts at risk, even if any of your accounts is compromised. With unique passwords for all accounts, even if one of your accounts gets hacked, all the others are still safe.
Of course, remembering passwords accounts is tough & simply writing it down can be even more dangerous.
This is where Password Managers come in handy. You can use one to securely store all your credentials and use it to log in to your accounts safely.
In addition, always ensure that all your devices use a screen lock at the basic and app locks for any sensitive applications running on them.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
With rising cyber awareness, Two-Factor Authentication is rapidly gaining popularity across all segments beyond the financial sector. Statistics from Duo Labs point out that the number of people opting for 2FA has risen from 53% in 2019 to 79% today.
Today, most popular apps, websites, social media channels, & email accounts support 2FA.
Ensure that you should always opt-in for Two-Factor Authentication. It ensures that even if your primary credentials are compromised for some reason, no one can gain access to your account unless they get through the second Authentication.
Install a Good Security Software
With so much riding on your data, securing every device connected to the Internet is vital. Hence you should invest in good security software to protect your device from Malware and safeguard your privacy.
However, this should be implemented at home and at your workplace. Statistics as per Security.org show that 41% of security software users in the U.S. use it only for personal use, while only 32% use it for both business and personal use.
When buying a security solution, look for a complete cyber security package. It should have advanced features like anti-malware, anti-ransomware, firewall, VPN, multi-device plan, and more.
Apart from these features, it would be best to look out for advanced features like parental controls and Anti-Spyware protection to ensure complete data privacy.
Some good and popular antivirus/anti-malware programs that you can try are Bitdefender, Avast, Kaspersky, Norton, and AVG, to name a few.
I have been a long-term user of Bitdefender Total Security. The main reason for using the program is that it provides protection for multiple devices, has great parental controls, and offers excellent protection against all kinds of Malware.
You will find affordable Bitdefender Total Security subscription plans to purchase a new license or renew your existing subscription.
Update Your Browser
Only second to your device is your Internet browser. History is full of incidences when cybercriminals have easily gained access to sensitive information by exploiting internet browsers’ vulnerabilities.
Though the browser companies have been quick to take action and roll out necessary patches to fix those issues, many users are negligent in proactively updating their browsers. This makes it easy for cybercriminals to exploit these users and steal their information.
Always ensure that you use only well-known Internet browsers and set for automatic updates.
Adjust your Privacy and Security Settings
Have you ever wondered how social media networks, Internet browsers, or some apps and operating systems sustain even when they are free to use? Well, they sell your data to run their business.
And this can get pretty grave if you are not careful while using them. Whenever signing up for any service or app, always read the fine print of the terms & conditions of use. Also, double-check the amount & type of personal information they will collect from your usage.
With rising privacy awareness globally, many companies now allow you to set what data they can collect from you.
The software can have vulnerabilities that can be exploited to access your network or your system. Software updates would usually fix them & protect you.
However, not updating your software on time can allow unauthorized access and result in data leaks. Always make an effort to keep all your devices up-to-date.
Backup Data Regularly
Make sure that you make proper provisions to create at least one backup of all your important data, either online or offline. It will ensure that your important data is always safe & secure.
Given the complexity of an operating system, any new version is always susceptible to vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals are quick to exploit them to their advantage & continue doing so for the lifetime of that version.
Microsoft sends regular security & feature updates via Windows Updates to protect its users, which protects them against malware and security exploits. But you must regularly update your Windows to ensure complete security.
Safely Use Public Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi is now very common in public places like hotels, cafes, malls, airports, and more. Most of us tend to use them to save our mobile data.
However, most of these Wi-Fi systems have eavesdroppers operating through them & they can collect all the data you’re transmitting through that network.
It can even include your banking details, passwords, or pictures. Being vigilant while using public Wi-Fi is necessary to safeguard your data on them.
You can use a VPN to securely transmit your data through any public Wi-Fi network. It creates a data tunnel through encryption between your device and the final destination so no third party can ever access that data.
The use of VPNs is fast rising, and nearly 36% of people now use a VPN every day to connect with the Internet.
Safe Online Shopping
You should be extra cautious whenever you shop online. One of the ways to achieve this is to buy only from trusted and secure sites. Always make sure to run background checks for new websites or sellers before reaching a buying decision.
Always look for good refund & privacy policies on their websites. Also, check for customer support options they offer and what payment gateways they use for processing your payments.
The Internet is like a double-edged sword. It can be a dangerous world if you are not careful enough. Don’t be afraid but be cautious whenever you are online. Trust your instincts & use your common sense to be safe.
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