5 Ways to Improve Your Online Privacy and Security
The internet has become a venue for everyone to be connected to one another, and for all of us to have access to things that are otherwise inaccessible to us. Imagine the world without internet – most people can’t. Nobody can deny the fact that the internet has been very beneficial to the world. The positive impact of the internet, however, is somewhat shadowed by some negative issues, one of which is online security.
What is online security?
Online security refers to the measures that an individual or organization uses to protect themselves while using the internet. There are a number of online security measures that are being employed such as firewall, anti-virus software, and encryption, to name a few. However, there are more methods that you can take in order to secure your internet usage. This post will tackle these and discuss what should you know about website privacy and security.
Why do you need online security?
You may be wondering why there is a need for online security measures. You may be thinking, “I don’t have any special use of the internet. I just browse Facebook, check Twitter, and watch my favorite videos, just like other normal people. I don’t need online security, there’s no threat.”
However, if you value privacy, then you would also value online security because you know why privacy is important. A breach of your privacy is a threat to your security online and even physical. Here are just a few threats that you really need to consider when browsing the internet.
Doxing is the act of taking your sensitive information from online portals such as your social media accounts, forums, and even your email accounts and distributing or disseminating such information to the public. Learn more about doxing here.
Phishing is the act of obtaining sensitive and personal information by sending links that pretend to be reliable but are actually lead to malware. Once you click on these links, the people behind it can then get your username, passwords, and financial information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and many more. People who use this method often end up doxing other people.
Malware is a short form of malicious software. The name suggests that it refers to any software that is intended to intrude or invade your computer – and your privacy. Malware includes computer viruses, ransomware, adware, spyware, and many more. Malware is used in phishing as well.
- Identity Theft
We all want to keep our identity secure. However, by obtaining your personal records, another person can purposely pretend to be you, especially when making financial transactions such as taking on loans or claiming your benefits. This often results in financial loss for you.
Ways to immediately improve online security.
Now, you are convinced that you need to deploy online security measures in order to protect yourself from online threats. The good news is that you don’t have to rely on large companies that sell expensive software to enhance your online security. You can immediately improve your online security by following these five tips:
1. Use secure authentication.
These days, authentication is not limited to entering a password in order to login or to use your gadgets. Face detection, fingerprint detection, and screen patterns, among many others, have become common ways to open your gadget or login to your account.
You should know though that the oldest route is always the safest and more secure way to authenticate. Anybody can steal your picture, make a copy of your fingerprint, and memorize the screen pattern that you use at just a glance. However, it would be difficult and even impossible for just anyone to know your password, especially when that password is very strong.
Therefore, always choose to use a password over other types of authentication. Also, keep in mind the following characteristics of a strong password:
- A strong password is alphanumeric, which is a combination of letters and numbers. With alphanumeric passwords, there are over two million possible combinations, making it almost impossible for anyone to guess.
- A strong password makes use of special characters. To take it to another level, you can even replace an alphabet with numbers and special characters such that the password “terminator” becomes “t3rm!n@t0r”. This kind of password is very difficult to crack.
- A strong password is not common. Yes, there are still people who use ” password” and “123” as their passwords. Make sure that you use something that is not common. You can use a phrase from a random movie or song and play with it (see previous tip).
- A strong password is used for only one account. Use different passwords for each of your accounts, especially for accounts that deal with your financial stuff. Never use the same password for both your Facebook and PayPal accounts! If you do, hackers will only need to get into your Facebook account, and then they can get into ALL your other accounts.
2. Avoid using public networks.
The good thing about the age that we are in is that we can be connected to the internet, anytime and anywhere. When you are in the office, you are connected to your work network. At home, you are connected to your home network. When you’re on the go, there are always public wireless networks that you can connect to. But wait, are public networks reliable? There seems to be no harm in using it, right?
Public wireless networks are actually used by hackers to access your personal information. This is pretty dangerous especially when doing financial transactions, and the only way to completely and securely protect your privacy is by connecting to a virtual private network.
3. Never forget to logout.
This is especially true when you are sharing your computer. You also have to make logging out a practice even when connected to your work or home network. Whether you are using your phone, computer, or any gadget that you own, always log out. When your device gets stolen or lost, you have less to worry about since nobody can login to the applications.
Leaving your Facebook, Twitter or email accounts logged in is like leaving food for the dogs. Anyone can just access it with no difficulty since they don’t even have to go through any authentication process.
4. Check the privacy setting of your social media accounts.
Sometimes, we share too much information on our social media accounts. But how much is exactly too much? Here are some signs that you’re sharing too much information:
- You use geotag in your posts. The simple act of checking into your home will give people an idea of your address.
- You post every time you go out of town. This is an effective way of telling burglars that your home is people-free for the weekend.
- You post your purchases. People will know that you purchase online, so they know that when they can get into your account, they can have your credit card or bank information.
- Your posts are public. Anyone, even those who are not your friend, can see your posts. Limit the audience to friends only, in order to avoid hackers and phishers to view your posts.
5. Read the link before you click.
This rule applies to any link – the link within an email telling you to verify your account, the link that supposedly leads to a download page, and the link within a blog that says you’ve won a freebie.
Make sure to verify the reliability of these links before clicking on them because often these links carry malware that can invade your privacy. You will know that a link is secure if it starts with an “HTTPS” as opposed to an “HTTP”. The extra ” s” right there means that the website is using a secure socket layer by encrypting any data that comes in and out of the website.
Of course, when it comes to encryption, nothing beats the security that a VPN can give. When connected to a virtual private network, all your online activities are heavily encrypted. So it’s good to know that we have this option.
However, it is also good to learn some tips that will help you improve your online privacy immediately and effectively. Make sure to follow these tips in order to prevent people with evil intent to invade your privacy. Hopefully, this post has given you an idea of what should you know about website privacy and how to improve it.