The internet has profoundly changed our lives, from the way we communicate and share information, to the way we shop. Yet, with so much information being exchanged online, hackers, scammers and fraudsters remain a constant threat, ready to exploit today’s internet community. While it’s impossible to completely bulletproof your online presence, it’s possible to make it significantly more secure. Here are the Top 3 ways to help protect your privacy online.
1. Vigilance, Smart Browsing, Education
Before discussing the more technical measures, let’s address online habits. Do you ‘click smart’? In other words, do you judge ads and links on face value, blindly hoping nothing sinister will unfold? Unless you’re incredibly lucky, this quick-fire surfing approach will likely lead to a very bad day at some point. Fraudsters rely on haste, with phishing scammers accumulating information via phony links leading to fraudulent sites. Online quizzes, click bait, too-good-be-true offers; social media circles and scam emails are rife with them. So think before you click, being mindful of who you share your details with, and where. Lastly, look for an ‘https’ and padlock symbol (encryption equals increased security) – not ‘http’ – when shopping and banking online.
2. Passwords & Network Security
Passwords prevent third parties from gaining access to our information stored across many services we use daily. Nothing is impregnable, but a strong password can do wonders for securing online privacy. To make your password harder to crack, you’ll need to do a whole lot more than enter the name of your first car in lower case. Instead, you should try adding some muscle by making, say, every other letter a capital letter, followed by some numbers and a character such as an asterisk. Think ‘unique’. Also, try to avoid using the same password for multiple accounts, and consider multi-factor authentication (offered by many services). Next, network security. Make sure your home or office router is password-protected, and note that using public WiFi (usually unsecured and relatively easy for hackers to access your device through) is risky. Lastly, securing your network with a firewall is an absolute must.
3. Anti-Virus, Updates, Backups
The importance of utilizing an anti-virus and anti-malware suite to protect your online privacy can’t be stressed enough. This software is available from a wide range of reputable providers, with the benefits obvious, such as alerting you to malware and virus strains that could, for example, snoop on your activities and compromise information like passwords. It’s paramount that you protect your tablet and smartphone just as you would your desktop computer. Frequent updates to software, operating systems and apps can often feel like an inconvenience, but they’re critical for security. Developers are, after all, trying to keep a step ahead of cyber criminals, so take the time to protect your tech. Finally, remember to perform regular backups – that way, should your devices become compromised, your data and information can be recovered.