Top 8 Tips for Using the Internet
Today, the internet is used as the main source of payment transactions, data sharing and communication, but with the increased number of individuals working remotely, online security has become more important than ever.
It starts in the most innocent of locations, like at a restaurant or a coffee shop. An individual may be sitting down having a sip of coffee while on their laptop.
Many of such people fall victim because they sign into a Wi-Fi network that appears to belong to the establishment. The unfortunate reality is that many hackers stay around such public spaces and setup fake Wi-Fi networks. Once an individual signs into one of them, it’s very easy for the hacker to steal confidential data from the victim, whether it be credit card details, bank details or personal data.
Creating a fake Wi-Fi network is just one of a number of methods hackers use to acquire sensitive data illegally. That’s why this article was put together, with 8 tips that you can use to stay safe from cybercriminals.
1. Update Your Browser
While each of the main browsers have their own pros and cons, there’s no point using one of these browsers if you don’t take the time to ensure its kept up to date. Most browsers will drop you a message when a new update is made available. Keep an eye out for them, as they can be the difference between being hacked and being safe.
2. Choose Strong Passwords
Passwords such as “123456” and “password” are the types of examples that you want to stay clear of. You want to go with something that’s unique, which means mixing it up with numbers and upper and lower case letters. Instead of going with something convenient, such as an easy to remember password, go with something complex and unique, something that you are forced to write down.
You also do not want to use the same password across all your accounts. That way, you can be sure that the hacker that gained access to your Instagram account, doesn’t have access to your Facebook account – as they have different passwords.
3. Avoid Links That Look Suspicious
Not all content online is good for you, there are things that you are better off avoiding. These are things such as suspicious links, unsolicited emails and free offers. Such things tend to be fairly simple to recognise, as they all require you to click on something.
If it’s an email, containing a malicious file, then the text contained in the email, may not say anything about the file. Instead, it may say something like “open the attachment, and tell me what you think”.
When on a website, you want to ensure that the text and the links within them are to similar topics of discussion. You don’t want a situation where you click on a link in an article about armchairs, only to be taken to a site about dog training. In cases like this, it’s best to leave the page immediately.
4. Backup Your Data
Baking up all your personal data is one of the most important things you can do. You want to avoid losing that photo you took, when you went on vacation, or an essay you wrote for school. To do that, you have services such as Google Drive, which you can use, specifically to backup these kinds of files. Internet safety isn’t solely about protecting your system and identify from cybercriminals, it’s also about best practices. Which in the long term, will protect you from any potential future mishaps.
5. Keep Your System Updated
You want to ensure that your operating system and applications are up-to-date. This is especially important if those applications contain, sensitive data, such as payment and health info. Software developers are always considering the safety of their products. Looking at ways to plug up loopholes, these they release in the form of patches and security updates. So be sure to update your software. This is much easier done for the operating system, however, when it comes to software, you may have to check yourself.
6. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication or 2FA was introduced to add an additional layer of security for your accounts. When signing into a service that uses 2FA, the end user is not only required to enter the right password, but also provide a passcode, which is typically sent to the device of the account holder. If a hacker was able to get a hold of your password, they still will not be able to access your account, without your mobile phone.
7. Always Check Online Information
There is so much information available online, that it can be very easy to get lost in all of it. If you find something that you feel is questionable, then the onus is on you to conduct your own research to get to the truth. Or, at the very least, come to your own conclusion on the subject. The best websites will have reference links to all the information that they provide. The suspicious websites on the other hand, will not.
8. Invest In a Quality Virtual Private Network (VPN)
One of the most effective ways of protecting your online activity is by using a quality virtual private network (VPN). This is especially important when on a public Wi-Fi network. VPNs work by routing internet data through different servers, so that the data can’t be traced directly to the system that is sending it. Since all VPNs encrypt sent data, it means your identify remains anonymous, which makes it increasingly difficult for hackers to steal your personal information.
Going out and purchasing a quality VPN can prove to be an integral step in securing your online activity. There are many different VPN programs and services for you to choose from. So the first thing you’ll want to consider is your current situation. How many systems you want to use the VPN on, how long do you use the internet, what kind of websites do you visit. These are questions you should have answers to, before you decide on which brand to commit to.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website https://www.compuchenna.co.uk.