How seriously do you take your online security? In 2022, over 44 million Americans had their data at risk due to cybercrime. Cybercrime is one of the fastest-growing threats to everyone worldwide and shows no signs of slowing down.
As people spend more and more time online, ensuring that your data is safe and protected is becoming more critical than ever. While it is every company’s and website’s responsibility to ensure that any data they hold and website they have is safe and secure, it is also your responsibility to ensure that you know how best to stay safe online and what you can do when using the internet.
These tips can help you to secure your data and reduce your risk of falling victim to cybercrime.
Everyone knows the importance of strong passwords. However, it can be challenging to keep coming up with new passwords for new websites or updating old ones. Ideally, you should update your passwords every few months, especially for websites such as your bank or e-commerce sites that also hold your personal payment information.
Tips for strong passwords include;
- Avoid easy-to-guess names and dates
- Add in random uppercase letters
- Include at least one number
- Add a symbol
- Put three random words together
- Use at least 14 characters; the longer, the better
- No dictionary words
- Nothing that will quickly identify you or you use as a form of security, e.g., dog name, make of car
If you struggle to remember passwords, it can be a good idea to use a password manager that stores all of your passwords and suggests new strong options for you too.
Use a VPN
A VPN is a virtual private network, and all it does is protect your IP address and online identifying information. It’s an encrypted tunnel that blocks your information so other people can’t see it, meaning it’s ideal for everyone, especially those working remotely or accessing public WiFi. If hackers are trying to steal your information, using a VPN will make it extremely difficult for you to become infected by malware or targeted by threat actors. On top of this, a VPN can be beneficial for getting around geographical blocks and restrictions, too, meaning you can access more information from anywhere in the world, making it ideal for travellers. Let’s say you are going on vacation to the UK; if you use a VPN, you can find out how to watch US Netflix in the UK and ensure any activities you carry out online are safe.
Keep Apps and Data Updated
Outdated apps and software can open you up to the possibility of cyber criminals exploiting holes in weak defences within the framework and being able to access your data. Security updates for apps and software are done for many reasons, but usually, they fix bugs or patch up any vulnerabilities. Neglecting or updating anything that has an update can put your data at risk and leave you defenceless should the old version be subject to an attack of this nature.
2-Step verification can often be a lengthy process to go through when logging in, especially when you are in a rush, but it can be an extra line of defence against hackers. Typically, 2-step verification requires you to log in; a text or email is usually sent with a code you need to enter. If someone tries to access your account and you have this switched on, each login attempt will trigger this action, coming directly to the phone number or registered email. If the code is entered incorrectly, no one can gain access; if you didn’t request the code, this would alert you that someone is trying to hack your account, and you can address this knowing your account is safe. This is particularly recommended for financial apps, social media accounts, and online accounts holding sensitive information, such as medical records.
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Look For The Padlock
On any browser you use, a padlock or other security detail will be on the search bar that will alert you to the site’s safety and if it is secure. All sites should start with HTTP; however, not all sites have up-to-date security measures, meaning it can be easier for people to hack or that it isn’t a real website. Always check by double-clicking the padlock or other security icon to help you determine the website’s legitimacy and if you still want to proceed. If you use Google Chrome, for example, it will flash you a warning that the website is deemed risky or isn’t secure, giving you the option to close it or navigate away.
Staying safe online can be easy if you know what to do. These tips can be great ways to add extra safety to your online activities and help you feel confident that only you can see and access your data.