How to stay safe and secure online?
Given the vast amounts of time we spend pinging messages, checking bank balances, buying products, and searching for information, keeping ourselves safe in the online world has never been more important.
Malware, hacks, and scams are all possibilities. And the growing “internet of things” has exposed us to even greater dangers, necessitating even greater vigilance.
But we are not helpless in the face of these threats. So here are five easy steps you can take to keep yourself safe online.
1. Keep everything locked and keyed
No aspect of online security is more important than your passwords, or, more specifically, their creation. Crooks are still using the age-old method of guessing a password – and succeeding. As a result, avoid using obvious, easy-to-guess passwords like password100, password123, 1234, or 0000.
Combining small elements from several highly personal aspects of your life is one approach to creating more secure passwords. They could be your favorite movie star, your and your partner’s ages when you first met, or your favorite book. To put it another way, Your1499Excalibur.
Use a different password for each account. Instead, make strong, one-of-a-kind passwords for each site or service you use. If someone does guess it, you’ll only have to deal with one security breach.
However, it is difficult to remember more than a few passwords, so use a password manager to keep them safe. This type of service can also generate passwords based on a random combination of characters rather than real words, preventing them from being discovered by dictionary-based software.
2. Stay Up To Date
However, if you allow it, the manufacturers of your hardware and software will most likely help to keep you safe. Install their updates, including those for your antivirus software, as soon as possible, and you’ll be far better protected against the onslaught of threats. Yes, we know it’s a chore that can interfere with your workday, so you might be tempted to skip it. Don’t. Instead, take charge and schedule the update for a time when you won’t be disturbed, or enable automatic updates to ensure you finish the job.
3. Be Wary
When you’re about to click on a link, pay attention, especially if you’re going through emails. Phishing attacks are responsible for a growing proportion of scams. By masquerading as legitimate warnings or requests, these can trick even the most sensible and cautious people into disclosing sensitive information. If in doubt, delete the message and contact the alleged sender via their official contact information to request clarification.
Be wary of any emails that arrive in your inbox with a “free offer” or a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. As a general rule, if something appears to be too good to be true, it probably is!
At best, these emails will be harmless spam that has gotten past your privacy settings, or links to websites that offer celebrity-based clickbait. At worst, they’ll include an attachment containing a virus, ready to infect your machine and steal as much of your personal information as possible.
4. Safeguard Your Mobile Life
Our smartphones, tablets, and phablets contain a wealth of personal information that is neatly packaged for any would-be thief. So, keep your devices secure in the offline world. Do not, for example, leave them on café tables (even for a few seconds) or hang an open bag on the back of a chair.
And never share your passwords with your mobile devices! Even if you’ve set a PIN or a fingerprint scan to unlock the screen, be cautious with each app. It’s inconvenient to have to log in every time, but it’s a small price to pay for increased security.
Take caution when downloading apps. Have users raised any security concerns? A few minutes of research can save you a lot of time and effort. The safest option is to only download from official app stores, but do your research as well.
If you receive a link via text or a messaging service “out of the blue” from a source you’ve never heard of, be suspicious. You don’t know where it will lead you, so just delete it.
5. Respect Your Privacy
Try to resist the urge to publicly share personal information. It is possible that someone will create a fake online persona based on your information or will gain access to other accounts using your information to answer security questions.
Keep in mind that anything you share will almost certainly be impossible to remove, so choose wisely! Also, keep in mind that you may be sharing more than you intended. For example, do you reveal your house number or street name when you proudly post photos of your new car?
Finally, keep in mind that over-sharing can harm your online reputation or ability to establish online rapport with clients or colleagues. You could harm your personal brand or raise questions about your employer’s brand and values, which could be just as damaging to your career as a cyber attack.
Do you have any additional tips for staying safe and secure online? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.