The Internet is filled with all kinds of interesting websites, applications, and communities where you can grow your knowledge and interact with others. However, the online realm is not completely safe. If you are not careful, you could be attacked by malware programs, phishing schemes, and other nefarious online threats.
The following are some simple but quite effective steps that you can take to protect yourself from most online threats.
Install an Antivirus Program
Using advanced antivirus software is a must if you want protection from trojans, viruses, and other malicious programs that can sneak into your computer or mobile through infected websites and email links. A comprehensive antivirus program can also give you ransomware protection which has become incredibly important lately as ransomware attacks and online threats are becoming more and more prevalent across the globe.
Using a firewall is also important when you want to safeguard your personal data. This is because a firewall can easily keep hackers away and some of the most powerful viruses from harming your data. It’s good that both Windows and Mac OS X have built-in firewall protection, and all you need to do is just configure it properly to meet your needs. You should also check if your router has firewall protection too. If it doesn’t, then you should consider replacing it with a better product.
Regularly Update Your Software
Software developers regularly release updates for their products to patch vulnerabilities in their software and add new features to prevent damage from emerging online threats. However, if you do not update the software you use, then you risk becoming a victim to an online attack. So, make sure that update your software as soon as newer versions are available. This will mitigate the potential for the latest online threats to affect you.
Consider Protecting your Digital Identity
When you go online, then you start leaving your digital footprints on all the websites you visit almost instantly. To prevent unauthorized and unethical use of your data, you can use a digital identity protection service. These services can find if your personal data has ever been exposed, alert you when there is a security breach, and even help you monitor your online reputation easily. There are many good services on the market, and most of them are affordable. Just make sure that you pick one that is reputable and reliable.
Use Strong Passwords
It’s true that you have to create accounts for many online services like social media websites, eCommerce platforms, etc. However, it is important that you create a different password for each account and your passwords should also be strong.
The following are some signs of strong passwords:
- They are at least 8 characters
- They contain special characters, uppercase letters and lowercase letters, and numbers
- They are not based on your name, birthday, and other personal details that a hacker can find out
Since creating unique and strong passwords for various accounts can be daunting and time-consuming, you could use a password manager to help. Password managers are special software that is designed to create unique passwords for you and store them in a secure vault so that you don’t have to remember these passwords yourself. There are password managers or keepers for mobile devices too. For instance, there are many top-notch iPhone password keepers that you can use to secure your online accounts on your smartphone easily and protect them from online threats.
Avoid Pirated Software
If you use torrent websites to download applications, then you need to know the hidden risks of pirated software. Most of this pirated software that you find on torrent websites and other illegal websites is infected with malicious malware. These malware programs can be installed on your computer system along with the legit software without your knowledge. These programs are designed to cause damage in different kinds of ways- stealing of login credentials for select websites or online banking information, corrupting your files and documents, etc.
If you want to keep malware programs off your computer, then be sure to download the software you need from genuine and trusted websites only. Torrenting sites are a major source of online threats and should be avoided.
Use a VPN
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and as the term suggests, it’s a virtual network that connects you to the Internet. The question is, how does it help in protecting you from online threats?
Here’s the thing- when you go online and visit different websites, then you send and receive data from them directly. So, it’s easy for a hacker to tap into this communication line and steal your confidential information. It’s true that reputed websites take security measures like SSL protection to protect your data, but you can’t be too careful.
By using a VPN, you can take online security to the next level. This is because a VPN can encrypt your transmitted data. So, even if a hacker is able to access this data, they can’t decrypt it to get the actual information.
One of the biggest uses of VPN is seen when you use public wi-fi connections, like in cafes and restaurants. This is because these networks are the riskiest as anyone can use them. However, if you have a VPN service installed on your phone or laptop, then you can connect to these public wi-fi connections without worrying. Plus, you can also enjoy additional advantages like unblocking geo-restricted content, lower prices for digital products and services, etc. as VPN services allow you to connect to the Internet from a server that’s located in a different country. It’s important to note that while VPNs are one form of protection against online threats, it isn’t bulletproof.
Activate Two-Factor Authentication
You may have a reason to dislike two-factor authentication as it’s time-consuming and even inconvenient at times. However, it also adds another layer of security for your data. So, if you have an online account with a particular website or service, and the option for two-factor authentication is there, then you should absolutely go for it.
In most websites, two-factor authentication works in the same way. When you enter your credentials, which is your username/email address and password to access your account, then the website prompts for one additional detail which can be an OTP sent to your registered mobile number, or a fingerprint scan, or a password sent to your email address. In this way, the website authenticates your identity with one additional value. This additional step goes a long way in protecting your online account and preventing hackers and cybercriminals from misusing your data.
This was a basic guide on how you can protect yourself from common online threats. By applying the above information, you can engage in online activities without worrying. Take your first step towards better online security today! Remember- the longer you wait, the bigger risk you take in protecting your data.