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Online Security: The Simplest Things You Can Do to Protect Your Data Online

by Gloria Louden
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The Internet has become a pretty dangerous place lately. We often hear about scams, hackers, phishing, malicious links, or stolen data. So, it’s only natural to wonder how safe you really are when surfing on the Internet.

The Internet is a double-edged sword these days. You can’t live without it in today’s modern society, or at least not if you’re ok with all your peers questioning your mental health, but using it also has plenty of downsides. One of these downsides is the fact that your data and identity aren’t safe online. Or at least, not anymore.

The last couple of years have been a pretty lucrative period for hackers and cybercriminals. For every technological advancement, hackers have found a way to exploit its vulnerabilities in their favor. And, who is most hurt by this? Unsurprisingly, the users get their data or identity stolen and used for criminal purposes.

Whether it’s social media networks, websites, or various technological products that fail to protect your data, getting your most sensitive information stolen or compromised is never pleasant.

Now, the good news is that you don’t have to give up on using technology to feel safe online completely. You also don’t have to go above and beyond to have a defense against these cyber threats.

Here are some straightforward cybersecurity tips that will help you be safer in your online life.

1. Keep your antivirus updated.

Assuming that you already have antivirus software on your devices, the next step is to constantly make sure that it is updated so that it protects your computer or mobile device from viruses and other cyber threats.

What can antivirus software protect you from? Trojan horse programs, ransomware, and bots. All of these cyber threats can mess with your data and computer files. They can encrypt them, delete them, and steal them.

Now, it’s not enough to have antivirus software on your devices. You also need to keep it updated so that it protects your devices with the best and updated features it has.

2. Create passwords that are hard to guess

Here’s the thing with strong passwords: if it’s really difficult for you to remember the password, that’s a good sign because it means it’s going to be almost impossible for hackers to guess it.

We get it. Remembering complicated passwords that contain lower and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols can be really challenging. Yet, they are the best way to secure your accounts from hackers with ill intentions.

What’s more, besides creating complex passwords, there’s one more important thing you must do to secure your accounts: have different passwords for each of them. Sure, it’s not that easy to remember ten different passwords for your social media accounts, email, or all other accounts you have on various websites. Yet, it’s a small price to pay to ensure that you’ll be the only one who has access to these accounts.

3. Protect yourself with VPN

Virtual Private Networks are another great and easy way to protect your data and online identity.

The best thing about VPNs is that they give you anonymity online. What they do to help you stay anonymous online is that they mask your devices’ IP address, which helps make your online activity untraceable.

The websites you surf on while online won’t be able to trace your activity back to you because they won’t see your real IP address. This is particularly useful, especially when you are using a public Wi-fi network, which, everybody knows, aren’t that secure as they are typically targets for hackers or other cybercriminals with ill intentions.

So, use a VPN to avoid exposing your private information and internet browsing habits to others online.

4. Use two-factor authentication.

Complex and strong passwords are a must to secure your accounts. Yet, sometimes, they might not be enough to keep hackers away from your private data. So, to add an extra layer of protection to your accounts, you should also use the two-factor authentication feature.

Not sure what this is? Well, it is basically another layer of authentication that you need to pass to log in to your accounts. Typically, besides the username and password, you also need to type-in a code that is sent to you either on your email address or your phone.

The two-factor authentication can truly make a big difference in protecting your accounts. Think about it: if someone knows your username and guesses your password, the chances are that they don’t also have access to your device to receive the code sent to you for authentication. So, it is more difficult for hackers to break into your accounts.

5. Don’t buy from shady websites.

It should go without saying, but it is still worth mentioning: don’t share any private or financial data with sites you don’t trust. Such shady websites may be made specifically to collect data from naïve Internet users. Plus, even if the website is legit, and its main purpose isn’t to steal your data, if the website’s design looks outdated and has a terrible user experience, the chances are that it doesn’t utilize the best security features to protect user data.

So, make sure you only purchase online from websites you know and trust.

Also, when surfing the web, no matter the website you’re searching for, use a browser option that has privacy as its topmost priority like Tor.

6. Be a selective sharer.

Sometimes, it can be you who invites cybercrimes in by not knowing what is safe and what isn’t to share online.

Think about it: on social media, people share so much data without even realizing how dangerous this can be. Sure, you can share funny pictures with your dog sleeping in funny positions. Hackers can’t do anything with such data. Yet, if you share your address, email address, phone number, or financial data, the story will be different. Your data will very much likely end up being used in malicious ways.

So, be a selective sharer. Not only on social media but anywhere online, including websites, emails, and even on the phone. Especially if someone reaches out to you to ask for sensitive data, no matter the reason, if you don’t know or trust this person, don’t share your personal info until you make sure that they have a legit and good reason for asking.

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