8 Tips On How To Protect Yourself Online

Thomas Smith is the editor of ForPrivacy, overseeing a team focused on building the voice of the cybersecurity world through guides, reviews articles and community. His background is as a writer and seasoned software industry veteran with 10 years of experience.

The internet has made our lives more convenient and helps us stay connected more than ever. However, as internet users increase, so do the security risks. As people spend more time online, we end up creating and sharing more personal data with the online world. If this data falls into the wrong hands, your financial and private data could be at risk.

Fortunately, there are several ways to protect yourself online. This article enumerates eight tips to help you safely surf the internet.

Tip 1: Install An Antivirus Security

The first thing you need to do to protect yourself online is to beef up your security. This is where an antivirus comes in. An antivirus program is specifically created to help in detecting and removing computer viruses and malware and helps protect you when using the internet.

Once installed, most antivirus software runs silently in the background, consistently monitoring and scanning your computer and internet activity to detect and restrict the spread of malicious programs.

If your computer runs on Windows 10, then Windows Defender, Microsoft’s built-in software, should be enough to protect general internet use. The same can be said for Mac computers’ built-in security programs.

But if you’re using mobile devices, you need to download and invest in 3rd party antivirus security tools. While most providers offer a free version of their antivirus software, these programs have limited features and protection. If you want full protection and better online privacy and security, you’ll need to subscribe to their services.

Tip 2: Be Smart About Emails And Messages

Viruses and other forms of malicious programs are often spread via emails and messages. In particular, suspicious links are a common tool used by hackers to trick users into giving up their data or installing malware onto their devices.

If you click on one of these links, they will redirect you to a fake site that looks similar to the real one where you’ll be asked to log in or type their private information. Other links will install viruses and malicious programs that steal private information from your devices.

So, be aware of the links in the emails and messages you receive. If something looks suspicious, don’t tap on it and delete it immediately.

In addition, legitimate entities will never ask you to verify or provide sensitive information like passwords through non-secure methods such as email. If you think that a service provider does need personal information, pick up the phone and call them yourself, using the number from their website and not the one the message provides.

Tip 3: Check For Site Security

Another important step on How to protect your privacy online is to always check for website security. Before browsing a website or making any sort of financial transaction online, look for signs that show whether or not the website is safe and encrypted.

To do this, you need to check for two things at the top of your web address bar:

  • The security lock symbol.
  • The extra ‘s’ at the end of http in the URL.

If both items are visible, it’s a sign that the website is secure and encrypted. This means that nobody will be able to see the data and information you send to the website owner.

In addition, there are other ways to determine if the website is trustworthy, such as the website’s contact information, privacy policy, or the ‘verified secure’ seal.

Tip 4: Use Secure Wi-Fi Only

Public Wi-Fi is useful when you’re on the go. Unfortunately, most public networks like those in hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, and airports are not always secure. You don’t know anything about the security of that Wi-Fi connection and it’s possible that a hacker could start accessing and stealing the data and files you sent from your device.

So, if possible, avoid using unsecured public Wi-Fi. If you must use it, don’t enter compromising information such as financial data or your Social Security number on any website. You can also use a virtual private network (VPN) to hide your IP address, personal data, and browsing activity, protecting your online privacy when using public Wi-Fi.

Tip 5: Take Your Passwords Seriously

Most people don’t really think about their password safety. In general, people use the same password for different websites, apps, and accounts. After all, it can be challenging to remember different passwords. However, passwords have significant monetary value to hackers. So, taking your passwords seriously can ensure solid digital privacy and prevent data breaches.

The best passwords are ones that are difficult to guess. Make sure to create a password that consists of a combination of letters (both lower and upper case), numbers, and special characters. The longer your password, the harder it is for cybercriminals to hack.

In addition, you must regularly change your password to keep your web accounts secure and safe. Also, make sure to use different passwords for different accounts.

If memorizing different passwords is not an option for you, you should consider using a trustworthy password manager that safely stores all your passwords. This way, you don’t have to struggle remembering all the different passwords for various accounts, ensuring that your online data can stay uncompromised and secure.

Tip 6: Stop Oversharing On Social Media

Social media has become a great way of keeping in touch with family and friends. However, you need to be careful of what you share on these platforms. Cybercriminals can learn a lot of information about you by checking your social profile.

In addition, social media accounts can provide clues about your personal information, particularly your date of birth, your mother’s maiden name, or location which cybercriminals can use to unlock critical data. In general, these types of information are also used to answer privacy questions on banking and financial platforms and other websites.

So, just like how you wouldn’t share your personal information with a stranger, you should never share it all on social media either. Set your account to private and only connect with people you know. Also, check your privacy setting to see who can see your posts. Be selective about the personal data you share with your followers including your current location, birthday, phone numbers, hometown, and other personal details.

Tip 7: Enable Two-Factor Authentication

A two-factor authentication (2FA) is a verification procedure that provides an extra layer of security beyond the traditional login method to protect your online account against hackers. It has now become one of the most effective ways to stay safe online, especially with social media accounts or with online financial transactions.

With a 2FA, a user signs up to their account. The website then asks for another unique piece of information–whether it’s a PIN or a one-time password (OTP) sent to their phone–to verify the user’s identity.

In general, passwords are often compromised or stolen. However, with 2FA the chances of a hacker accessing your OTP or having the security PIN is unlikely. The added layer of security can provide users peace of mind when passwords are not enough to stay secure online anymore.

Most websites and service providers offer this verification method and make it easy to set up this second layer. Taking it further, some sites, especially online banking sites, invest in multi-factor authentication. This method requires more verification which may include fingerprint, face, or voice scans to enhance your privacy when using the internet.

Tip 8: Never Save Financial Information

Online shopping has become the norm these days. It’s really convenient to browse and buy online and have your items delivered right to your door. That said, it also makes your financial information at risk.

Most eCommerce shops like Amazon are secure. However, there’s no completely hacker-proof website. So, you want to be careful when shopping online.

Most shopping websites allow you to save your financial information in your online account. This makes it easier and faster to make future purchases. However, this also makes it easier for hackers to access this information should they hack into the shopping website.

So, instead of opting for the convenience of storing your financial information in your shopping accounts, consider entering your information every time you buy from the store. The extra minutes will help ensure your privacy protection.

Conclusion

Staying safe online can be daunting. However, with these eight tips on how to protect yourself online, we hope that you can browse, interact, shop, and enjoy the web without any worries about your digital security. So, what are you waiting for? Implement these cybersecurity tips today and minimize your online risks right away.

Thomas Smith is the editor of ForPrivacy, overseeing a team focused on building the voice of the cybersecurity world through guides, reviews articles and community. His background is as a writer and seasoned software industry veteran with 10 years of experience.

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