The number of individuals using the internet has been proliferating for the last few decades. People use the internet for diverse purposes. While some depend on the internet for entertainment, others use it for work or education. Despite the positive growth, very few individuals take time to learn how to ensure their safety online.
Cyber Insecurity During the Pandemic
Most people often overlook the significance of proper cyber security. Yearly, millions of internet users fall victim to cybercriminals. 2021 is not different; the pandemic has led to more internet users, with most people working from home. Hence, adults and children alike have become more prone to cyberattacks.
This article explores top online safety tips to look out for as you engage online in 2021.
1. Keep Your Confidential Information Offline
In 2020, identity theft was one of the most common crimes reported to the FTC. Learn to keep your personal information offline, whether it’s your full name or date of birth. Moreover, ensure the sites you log in with such data are reliable and have proper data protection strategies.
Besides, before you share your personal information with anyone online, ensure that they are trustworthy. Sometimes you will need to share some of your confidential data with people you met on the internet. Search for their name on Nuwber before telling any sensitive details. Check all the information about those people you can find to decide whether they can be trusted.
2. Create Strong Passwords
When choosing a password, always go for a strong one. Passwords are among the leading soft spots regarding cyber vulnerabilities. Most individuals settle for short or obvious passwords that they can remember easily. However, they forget that cybercriminals can crack such passwords with an easy guess too.
The latest network security survey reveals that cybercriminals can crack passcodes with less than ten characters in an hour. Nevertheless, passwords with more than 12 characters would take years to break, including those with a combination of letters and numbers. It’s advisable to use password generators if you don’t know how to create a complex password.
Get a Password Manager
It is not easy to memorize all your passwords. Moreover, it’s challenging to create and keep long sophisticated PINs for all the online accounts you own. Luckily, there are several tools you can use to track your passwords, including DashLane, LastPass, and Bitwarden.
3. Utilize Internet Security Software
Staying safe online requires one to be very careful with how they share data and engage online. However, sometimes the efforts you make to be safe are just not enough. While security software does not protect you from every threat, they help detect and terminate most malicious attacks.
An internet security software will block fraudulent websites and even alert you of risky Wi-Fi hotspots. If you are going to use an antivirus, be sure it’s regularly updated. Additionally, ensure your firewall is active.
4. Use a VPN
Whether you use the internet for business or personal purposes, you most likely know the risks involved in browsing online. Today, most browsers have in-built features that you can easily access. You can access them on the web browsers file menu. Besides, private browsing is crucial when you don’t want your browsing history and cookies saved. Contrary to what most people believe, private browsing does not keep you safe from malware attacks.
What is a VPN?
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for anonymity when browsing online. A VPN will hide your location from other internet users. It conceals your actual IP address hence making your internet connection confidential. By far, this is the surefire way of enhancing safety online when browsing by keeping your activity private. Again, if you are using public Wi-Fi, the VPN will surely protect you by keeping your data safe from hackers.
5. Secure Your Social Media Accounts
Securing your social media accounts can be a hassle, whether that’s for personal or business use. It is pretty easy to lose your social media accounts nowadays due to either weak passwords or through third-party apps.
a. Third-Party Apps
Be cautious before granting third-party apps access to your social media (SM) accounts. While creating accounts using social media like Facebook may seem straightforward, they make your SM accounts vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Moreover, if you grant access to third-party apps, ensure that you go through the fine print. Be sure that they will not use your information elsewhere or enroll you on a platform without your consent. The point is, don’t give them too much freedom with your confidential data.
On the other hand, securing your social media accounts protects other accounts, especially if they have access to the data. You should better have a separate password for each social media account than a one-fits-all solution. Separate passwords reduce the risks of getting your other accounts compromised.
6. Use Two-Factor Authentication
You can always choose to add an extra level of security to all your apps and accounts via two-factor authentication. It is most significant in scenarios where your password may be compromised because of accessing your accounts from different devices. The intruder will need an extra one-time password to sign in successfully in such cases. Google Authenticator is an excellent tool for creating two-factor authentication passcodes.
7. Exercise Safe Online Shopping
When browsing online, you will always see something that you would love to buy. Buying items online requires you to submit your bank account data or credit card details. Consequently, cybercriminals are always lurking on e-commerce sites seeking to acquire credit card details from unsuspecting buyers.
Therefore, before you purchase anything online, ensure the site you are using is secure. A quick way is to check if the site’s URL starts with “HTTPS:” to confirm its safety. An insecure account will always lack the ‘s’ and appear as “HTTP:” Some sites will also have a padlock icon next to the address to show that they’re safe.
Cyber security should be a top priority in 2021. The number of people using the internet is growing, and the pandemic is making this growth even bigger. Hackers and cyber attackers are using websites and emails to dupe naive internet users into sharing their confidential data. It would be best if you were more cautious when using the internet now more than ever.