Have you ever received emails from unknown sources claiming to offer insurance, lottery tickets or advertisements? You may have noticed that such emails always have a link that they prompt you to click. What lies on the other side of the link can be any one of many ways to phish users into giving away their important login credentials.
You obviously don’t want any confidential information such as credit card numbers or account passwords to be misused or imagine a scenario where you have downloaded a file which turned out to be malware and now your system is infected with nasty ransomware.
In this article, you’ll find effective tips that can help you stay secure online.
1. Set Robust Passwords
The most basic mistake that users make is setting easily guessed passwords so they don’t forget them and the attackers happily use this as a weakness by figuring out commonly used passwords. Don’t make it easy for hackers to get access to your online accounts and set strong passwords with different combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters along with numerals and special characters.
Make a logical function or method to set passwords for each site so that you don’t have to remember every single password, just apply the function and recall your password using logic. If you still have trouble with this, use password managers that help you organize your passwords and remind you to change them frequently. Never use the same password again.
2. Enforce Email Security
Emails are one of the common ways used by attackers to send you phishing and malicious links to download viruses and other malware. Most users send substantial information via emails. Emails also remain open to future attacks as they are stored in the cloud. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to keep your emails secure and protected from attacks and infiltrations.
You can go to settings of your email account and modify them to allow you further control over sent emails such as set a time period until which you can undo sending an email and get notified instantly when an unknown device accesses your emails.
You can even seek the aid of online security services such as EPRIVO that provide a private email account to secure your email accounts from phishing or malicious/compromised websites without accessing any of your emails.
3. Beware of Unknown Links
Keep your mouse pointer away from links which look suspicious. Attackers try to present fake links as secure and use phishing techniques to get your sensitive information such as bank account details or login id and password.
Some links, when clicked, start executing code which gets your device’s network information and can alter the metadata in the header as well as the content whenever you send information. Furthermore, attackers can attach download links to emails or web pages which drop malware on your computer.
Make sure you don’t click on any link that seems untrustworthy and do keep track of your downloads, so your device is not being slowed down by malware running in the background. Also, use VirusTotal to scan malicious links and files for free.
4. Use a Reliable Antivirus Software
Like it or not, a reliable anti-virus software protects your device from various kinds of malicious attacks. There is several antivirus software that are available for free, but if you invest in paid services, it’ll definitely be worth the money as your device will be more secure from pinging unreliable websites and downloading from unknown sources.
5. Secure Your Network Details with a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) shields your network’s true identity and protects your device from being tapped into for sniffing data. Whenever you’re using an unknown Wi-Fi network from the airport, coffee shop or a hotel, it’s safer to turn on a VPN before surfing on the internet.
This way, no one will be able to find out your device’s IP address or location and your communications will be encrypted and routed through the VPN’s server and remain secure.
6. Perform Periodic Data Backups
In the unfortunate event of a malware corrupting the data on your device or in case of a ransomware attack, you will not be vulnerable to any loss if you perform periodic backups and upload your data to a trusted and secure cloud server or save it in some external storage. You can simply reset your device and restore your data from your backup source and the problem will be solved.
7. Use Security Tools
There are various OS-based security tools available online that you can install on your device. These tools help you keep track of all the activity in your network, encrypt all the data you send and receive, scan files for malware before downloading them, look for potential points of attacks, and much more.
You can even perform testing by attacking your own device and identifying the weaknesses post which the tools will guide you on what steps to take to secure your device.
8. Clear Cache and Browsing History
Browsers constantly store information that will make things run faster should you ever perform the same action again such as revisiting a website or keeping your account status logged in for days or weeks.
Your passwords and user ids are stored in cookies, web pages are stored as cache and browsers conveniently use this information for their own analysis purposes. Therefore, it’s recommended that you clear cache, cookies and browsing history on a regular basis and erase all such information for good.
9. Use an Account Manager
Some websites subscribe you to their newsletters or advertisement emails when you sign up. Sometimes, you want to access a document or a video which prompts you to sign up and you do so while disregarding the security risks. To avoid your email being spammed by such websites, you can create a separate email id that you use for unsafe websites and don’t associate this email with other recovery numbers or email ids so your primary email id will be free from such spam emails. You can use some account managing software that keeps track of which email you have used to sign up on which website, so things don’t get complicated for you to organize.
10. Employ Multi-factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication means that you have to go through multiple phases of authentication before you can access your accounts. This strengthens the process of authentication noticeably and you can rest assured that a simple brute force attack can’t hurt your privacy.
You don’t have to worry about data corruption or leaking of confidential information. There are several companies who have adopted this method of authenticating their employees. Instead of making logging in a complicated process, multi-factor authentication is secure enough that it can be used as a single login point and as a result, you will be logged in to multiple applications on your device.
With the fast-growing internet services, online threats are ever-increasing. You never know how your data is being used for analysis by giants like Facebook and Google. You must’ve surely noticed that just one search of a product on Amazon results into that same product being advertised to you on Facebook and Instagram. While this is acceptable for receiving recommendations, your privacy is of utmost importance. Therefore, be sure that you do your part by following the above guidelines and securing yourself on the internet.