Although we all know the dangers of the internet, we often forget how easy it is to fall for scams or not to take our internet safety seriously enough when browsing. This is how thousands of people have their sensitive data and money stolen online every month.
So how do you really stay safe online in 2022? Let’s find out.
1. Use a VPN for Safer Web Browsing
You’ve probably heard of VPNs at some point over the past few years because they’ve become incredibly popular. These security protocols allow users to hide their IP addresses and encrypt their Internet traffic so that cybercriminals cannot access their private data. But do you really need it to ensure your security on the Internet?
In general, you should be using some sort of online security protocol whenever you use the internet, and a VPN is one of the easiest to access. There are currently a wide range of reputable VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN and SurfShark, and while the majority of them come at a price, it’s certainly worth keeping your sensitive information hidden online.
If you don’t want to spend money on a VPN, you can try downloading OpenVPN software, which is the protocol used by most providers. Although it’s a bit more involved than just signing up for a paid VPN service, it can save you a lot of money in the long run. There are also many reputable free VPN providers out there, but be careful and do your research around any given provider before downloading software.
2. Set up two-factor authentication for account security
Today, thousands of websites offer two-factor authentication when creating an account, and it’s always worth taking advantage of this feature. With two-factor authentication, you get an extra layer of protection so cybercriminals can’t gain access to your online accounts as easily.
Two-factor authentication works by requiring you to verify all logins through another verification mode. For example, a site may require you to confirm a login by text or email to ensure that it is you who is trying to access your account.
You can even connect your phone to your laptop or tablet via Bluetooth to quickly confirm a connection. This means that no one can access your account without hosting additional information or having direct access to one of your linked devices.
3. Use complex passwords and change them regularly
It can be difficult to remember all of your passwords for every account you have, which means it’s tempting to use the same password all the time or to use short, simple passwords which are easier to remember. Although this is convenient, it can be catastrophic. The shorter and simpler your password, the easier it is to crack.
Hackers can use various password cracking techniques to gain access to your accounts, including dictionary attacks, malware, and phishing, and as a result, your password is never truly secure. However, you can make it much more difficult to access by increasing its complexity. This is why many sites and password managers recommend that you use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols when creating your password, which is indeed a great idea.
On top of that, you should never use parents’ names, your birthday, or other similar information in your passwords, as they make them much easier to guess. Instead, use random words or a random combination of letters and numbers. In short, the crazier a password looks, the harder it is to crack.
You should also change your passwords regularly to protect your accounts. If you have many different accounts and don’t want to change your passwords regularly, you should at least consider changing passwords for important accounts, such as those used for banking or social media.
4. Install anti-virus software or update your current version
Antivirus is crucial to keep your device and private data safe, so it should be a top priority to have antivirus software installed on your device. It can detect and remove viruses and other harmful software from your device. Many antivirus vendors also offer VPNs, parental controls, and password managers, all of which can protect you and your loved ones online.
Although some devices come with antivirus software, this is not always the case and some default antivirus programs may be lacking. So be sure to look at what your operating system’s antivirus software actually offers and check whether it is considered effective or not online. If you find this not highly recommended, you should consider installing more reputable antivirus software instead.
5. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi for Internet Safety
Public Wi-Fi can be ideal when you want to use the web away from home without consuming your mobile data. However, cyber criminals target public servers to access users’ private information. A hacker can position themselves between you and the server connection point, allowing them to steal login credentials, payment details, photos, and other personal data that they can use to access your accounts.
Moreover, cyber criminals can even spy on your online activity when you are using public Wi-Fi. There are a myriad of ways your privacy can be invaded via public Wi-Fi, so it’s best to avoid it whenever you can or use a VPN to encrypt your internet traffic and stay safe. .
6. Use only verified sites for a safer web experience
Whether you’re shopping, downloading software, or doing just about anything else online, remember to use verified websites. This is because cybercriminals who want to access your data or install malware on your device could operate unverified websites. Thus, you should check if a website is safe before providing any kind of sensitive data or downloading any software.
To check if a site is secure, you can first look at the URL bar at the top of the page. Many browsers will display a padlock icon next to the website address if it is safe to use. So be very careful in case the padlock is missing or has a cross or line through it, as this means that the website is not verified.
You can also check the URL for any weird spelling errors. For example, if you use ASOS to shop for clothes, but the URL says “AS0S”, it may be a replica site designed to steal your personal information. Alternatively, you can do a little research on the website to see if it has many reviews or an established social media presence. Indicators like these can be crucial in saving you from a scam.
It’s essential to protect yourself and your data online
Although you might think you’re too tech-savvy to be a target for cybercriminals, the ways attackers scam people and steal information are getting more and more sophisticated these days. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your data is secure. So, try some of the above methods to keep yourself and your loved ones safe while browsing the web.
Looking to improve your internet security? Here are six free online security tools you can easily use to boost your security.
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