Cybercrime is an issue and will remain so as long as we use the Internet. However, it should not put us off as the Internet is a handy tool in the modern world. Instead, we simply need to learn how to stay one step ahead by protecting ourselves online. Here are 13 helpful tips for safer Internet usage that we can all quickly implement to keep ourselves and our families safe from online attacks.
1. Password Audit
When was the last time you changed your passwords? Passwords are a massive problem and make the lives of hackers incredibly easy as people insist on using the names of their family or pets and keeping the same password using it on hundreds of different sites for years. Crosswords need to be random letters and numbers as it makes it harder to hack.
2. Safe Social Media
Concerningly, social media accounts often leave our information wide open unless we go in and change settings to secure it. Be sure to close any social media accounts you no longer use and make sure that you have a different and secure password for each and every account. Where possible, consider using two-factor authentication if the site offers it.
3. Secure Devices
It may seem like an annoyance to use passwords or face ID on your phone or tablet, but it is there to protect you. Should the worst happen, and you lose your phone, it makes it much harder if it’s locked. You can also enable a mode where you can self-destruct the device, which means all data is lost; the device will still work if you get it back but ensures that you are protected.
4. Encrypt Data
Both Windows and Mac computers offer full disc encryption (Windows) or FileVault (Mac) depending on which you are using, making your data utterly unusable if they are unable to clear the security. It requires the user to have an encryption key that makes the data readable and keeps your device protected.
5. Avoid Public Computers
They may be helpful, but computers located in Internet cafes and libraries are entirely insecure. While the building management team may try their best to ensure the computers remain secure, whoever has used them before you could have installed things to track data. Where possible, stick to using your own devices.
6. Stop Giving Away Data
It may seem like an innocent competition, but question why you are giving away your data so quickly. Many information requests are actually to give details that can be sold or used for other purposes. The more information asked for, the more reluctant you should be to provide it.
7. Don’t Use Free Wi-Fi
Another place that compromises your security is free Wi-Fi networks. It may seem great to be able to access the Internet in a cafe or shop, but actually, these are the most insecure places you can possibly be using. Please stick to your data or encrypt your device with a virtual private network before you head out into the world with it.
So now we’ve mentioned VPNs, we should probably dig a little deeper. A virtual private network or VPN means that your Internet activity is hidden as your device becomes invisible if you like. You can also use a VPN on your computer, tablet, or iPad; you simply need to get an account with a VPN company, and they will do the rest.
9. Run Your Updates
It is annoying when your computer or phone keeps prompting you to run updates on your right in the middle of something. Days can actually tick by before you finally allow the update to run, and this is dangerous. The update is designed to protect you by patching security and fixing bugs that could otherwise allow hackers access.
10. Off-site Backup
It is a good idea to back up your data to a cloud service that is not located on your device. Computers that back up to their hard drive are pretty useless if the computer itself is damaged. You need to be able to retrieve your data from another location if something happens to your computer.
11. Beware of Phishing
Phishing is a way that scammers try to get you to hand over data by sending emails that are infected or asking for information by claiming to be your bank or another organization that you know and trust. Learn how to avoid this.
12. Distrust Strangers
It is sad to say but, it is actually better to distrust any online stranger before you have checked them out.
13. Keep Your Virus Software up to Date
Letting a free trial of virus software lapse may not seem too damaging, but the regular updates that your virus software makes keep you protected from the latest attacks. It is worth paying for this service.