In an increasingly online society, most communications happen over the internet. Even though it presents many advantages, it also risks your security. You may have heard of cybercrime, but do you realize how much it can affect you?
How cybercrime affects you?
Cybercrime is more common than you may realize. You may think the chances of falling victim to a cyber-attack are pretty low. But think again! According to a known anti-virus company, an average user falls victim to cybercrime every thirty seconds – almost a hundred victims per hour. What’s more, the attackers don’t target you for who you’re, but it’s the data they’re after.
Every online detail about you, regardless of who you’re or where you live, holds immense value for these attackers, from your financial details to your emails. This makes everyone who uses the internet vulnerable to attacks.
Although this whole scenario may seem a bit scary, after all, it’s your digital privacy and security we’re talking about. But the situation is not entirely hopeless. You can reduce your vulnerability and protect yourself from these attacks. Plus, on the bright side, the industry is rapidly expanding, so there is an increasing demand for cybersecurity professionals.
You can pursue a degree in cyber security management to land a high-paying job and enhance your protection against these attacks. Keep scrolling to learn how to keep yourself safe online and regain your digital freedom.
Five ways to enhance your online security
- Turn on two-factor authentication
Two-factor auth or multi-factor auth is essentially the same thing. It allows you to opt for additional protection, which adds an extra layer of security to your online presence. Your trusted web apps can ask you to verify your identity to ensure that it’s not someone pretending to be you. This helps when you sign in from a new or previously-unknown location.
Doing so helps protect your frequently used app from being maliciously accessed, including your bank app, social accounts, school, and workplace accounts. This method doesn’t rely solely on passwords, as passwords can be hacked without much effort.
Two different methods for verifying your identity are more formidable online security approaches. The authentication may verify your identity using data that only you know or have access to, such as a security question, an app to authenticate your presence, or a face app or finger app.
So it’s wise to use two-factor or multi-factor authentication for all your online accounts, starting with your bank app, socials, school/work account, streaming accounts, etc.
- Don’t click on suspicious links
One of the most important ways, and perhaps the easiest way, you can protect yourself online is simply by not clicking on any odd or suspicious links. When it comes to online security, it’s essential to take a preventative approach, which means don’t mindlessly click on any links you come across online.
Before clicking on any link sent to you, always notice if it seems off. A suspicious link may seem familiar, but it won’t be entirely familiar. Such links can appear harmless on the surface and usually ask you to confirm some information about yourself.
The message can be anything, but the point is that it would ask you to share sensitive details such as your password or social security number. This is the textbook definition of a phishing attack, where a malicious attacker poses as someone trustworthy to deceive you into divulging sensitive personal details. Then they may use your information to access all your applications, and the damage is irreversible.
Moreover, such attacks are surprisingly effective and can even trick you into installing malware on your device. However, the prevention is simple: think before clicking on any odd link.
- Set stronger passwords
Although you may think using stronger passwords is common sense. However, common sense is surprisingly not that common. Some of the most frequently used passwords include “password” and “12345”; if it’s any help, using your name after your birthdate isn’t much better. All of these passwords can be cracked without much effort.
A strong password fortifies your online presence and protects it from unauthorized access. Use long passwords (15 characters) and never use the same password for all your accounts – compromising your security across all platforms if the password leaks.
Using a weak password is like locking your door and leaving the key under the carpet on your patio – it’s hard to get in.
A pro tip is to use a password manager to track all your passwords, so you won’t have to worry about forgetting any of them. Make sure your primary password is both difficult to guess and easy to remember, and use multi-factor authentication on your password management account if you choose this way.
- Keep all your devices up to date
The best protection against online viruses and security vulnerabilities is updating all devices with the latest fixes and upgrades. However, by keeping your system up to date, you effectively fortify the security of all your devices and ensure no one can exploit your system.
Hence, ensuring that you’re always running the most recent software versions on your devices, particularly web browsers, is essential. Use automatic updates for all your devices, programs, and OSes to get the newest updates as soon as they are released.
- Use a secure VPN
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are among the most effective means of protecting yourself online. They help individuals and organizations remain private and secure online while also warding against various online vulnerabilities.
The information you send and receive over the internet is vulnerable to interception if a hacker gains access to the network you’re using, such as when you connect to a public Wi-Fi hotspot that isn’t adequately protected.
A VPN is a handy tool that protects your information, especially when you’re connected over an unsecured public Wi-Fi network such as the Wi-Fi at the café you frequent.
A virtual private network helps keep you safe by encrypting your data as it travels over the internet. Because the service’s new IP masks your actual IP address, internet monitoring becomes very difficult. If you use a virtual private network (VPN) on your device, you’ll have more security, and any intercepted data will appear indecipherable.
Being secure when using the internet may seem complicated, but it’s not impossible. Our world is becoming increasingly online, so you must apply the same caution online as you would treat interactions with strangers IRL.
Keeping these five simple tips in mind can help you stay genuinely secure online and avoid all the pitfalls of online communication.