10 Simple Things You Can Do to Be More Secure Online
1. Install an Antivirus and Keep It Updated
Antivirus actually protects against all kinds of malicious software. Ransomware encrypts your files and demands payment to restore them. Trojan horse programs seem like valid programs, but behind the scenes they steal your private information. Bots turn your computer into a soldier in a zombie army, ready to engage in a denial of service attack, or spew spam, or whatever the bot herder commands. An effective antivirus protects against these and many other kinds of malware.
2. Use Unique Passwords for Every Login
Creating a unique and strong password for every account is not a job for a human. That why you use a password manager. Several very good password managers are free, and it takes little time to start using one.When you use a password manager, the only password you need to remember is the master password that locks the password manager itself. When unlocked, the password manager logs you into your online accounts automatically. That not only helps keep you safer, but also increases your efficiency and productivity.
3. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication means you need to pass another layer of authentication, not just a username and password, to get into your accounts. If the data or personal information in an account is sensitive or valuable, and the account offers two-factor authentication, you should enable it. Gmail, Evernote, and Dropbox are a few examples of online services that offer two-factor authentication. If you just use a password for authentication, anyone who learns that password owns your account. With two-factor authentication enabled, the password alone is useless. Most password managers support two-factor, though some only require it when they detect a connection from a new device. Enabling two-factor authentication for your password manager is a must.
4. Get a VPN and Use It
A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, routing it though a server owned by the VPN company. Using a VPN also hides your IP address. Advertisers and trackers looking to identify or geolocate you via that IP address will instead see the VPN company’s address. Spoofing your location using a VPN server in another country can also serve to unlock content that’s not available in your own region. On a more serious note, journalists and activists in repressive countries have long used VPN technology to communicate securely.
5. Pay With Your Smartphone
Setting up your smartphone as a payment device is typically a simple process. It usually starts with snapping a picture of the credit card that you’ll use to back up your app-based payments. Point-of-sale terminals that support smartphone-based payment usually indicate the fact with an icon, from a picture of a hand holding a smartphone to a stylized representation of a radio wave. Some smartphone payment apps let you pay online with a similar one-time code.
6. Use Different Email Addresses for Different Kinds of Accounts
People who are both highly organized and methodical about their security often use different email addresses for different purposes, to keep the online identities associated with them separate. Many sites equate your email address with your username, but some let you select your own username.
7. Clear Your Cache
Deleting cookies may cause trouble for some websites you may lose any personalization you’ve applied. Most browsers let you list favorite websites whose cookies shouldn’t be tossed. To better protect that information that may be lurking in your Web history, be sure to delete browser cookies and clear your browser history.
8. Turn Off the ‘Save Password’ Feature in Browsers
When you install a third-party password manager, it typically offers to import your password from the browser’s storage. If the password manager can do that, you can be sure some malicious software can do the same. In addition, keeping your passwords in a single, central password manager lets you use them across all browsers and devices.
9. Don’t Fall Prey to Click Bait
Don’t click links in emails or text messages, unless they come from a source you’re sure of. Even then, be cautious; your trusted source might have been compromised, or the message might be a fake. The same goes for links on social media sites, even in posts that seem to be from your friends. If a post seems unlike the style of your social media buddy, it could be a hack.