Living in an increasingly digitized world has numerous perquisites and is certainly worth every second. However, it also has its downside. The proliferated technological advancement has altered how different individuals conduct their businesses and interact with others. We have come so far from the traditional days when we had to communicate at face value to send a message or get things done.
Today, we can bridge the six degrees of separation and communicate with a loved one or workmate located in a far-off continent just at the touch of a button. At the center of this technological innovation and revolution, however, lies a major threat – protecting yourself in the digital world while interacting with loved ones or workmates.
Safeguarding our privacy on different online platforms has quickly become a full-time job for everyone out there. Today, numerous individuals increasingly depend on the internet for myriad activities ranging from interacting with loved ones, gaming, and carrying out remote work responsibilities to merely browsing for information. As such, securing valued personal data has become immensely challenging due in large part to the proliferation of social media networks and internet users worldwide. Indeed, a simple, unsuspecting mistake, such as accessing an unknown email, could render your private or confidential data to hackers and ruin your life in a matter of milliseconds.
However, do not fret because there are still ways of protecting yourself in the digital world. You can learn and master the different mechanisms you can adopt to protect your data from expected and unexpected cyber-attacks by following the steps below.
1. Create and Use Stronger Passwords on Your Personal Accounts
Generating complex and stronger passwords is the most surefire way of protecting yourself in the digital world, as this protects your personal information, online identity, and critical accounts from unauthenticated breaches. Cybercriminals can use one single password to unlock all the personal accounts of different people who use similar passwords for all their personal accounts.
Some of the best ways to create stronger and more effective passwords include:
- Always choose a password that is difficult to decode or crack.
- Avoid using numbers or words that a person could associate with you, including identifying numbers or letters, employers’ numbers, address numbers, personal phone numbers, names of your children or spouses, personal surnames, and middle or maiden names.
- Create passwords with numbers, words, and symbols.
- Remember to always keep your passwords known only to you.
- Alternatively, use password managers to create, organize, and protect your passwords for each online site you use.
2. Find an Effective Encryption
Before you venture forth to carry out any online financial transactions, always make it a habit to check for signs confirming whether the website you are logged onto (or using) is securely encrypted or not. Two things can help you check for the encryption of a website you intend to use: the extra ‘s’ at the end of the HTTP in the web address bar or URL and the trusted security lock symbols.
Once you access the page requesting you to input your credit card information, you will notice two things:
- When it is indeed a secure site, the ‘HTTP’ immediately changes to ‘HTTPS’ – notice the additional ‘s’
- A lock symbol will similarly appear on the right side of the web address bar
These signs indicate that the website is secure and that no one will have unauthorized access to your confidential information.
3. Install Security Suites
Security suites are simply programs designed to prevent unauthorized programs and individuals from infecting your PC’s operating system, enabling them to steal your confidential information. Examples of security suites used to secure data from unauthorized access include AVG Internet Security, McAfee Virus Protection, Norton Antivirus, and Ad-Aware Pro Security. Accordingly, these programs can help you block different types of harmful software, including phishing scams, viruses, and spyware that could be installed covertly when browsing online.
4. Steer Clear of Phishing Scams
Online scammers increasingly deploy wide-ranging mechanisms to access and steal your personal data and identity. It is, therefore, extremely crucial to learn and familiarize yourself with the different types of scams to steer clear of them. To do this:
- Avoid opening email attachments or emails from unknown senders.
- Avoid clicking on insecure links from unknown email senders.
- Avoid interacting with people promising to offer strange work opportunities, money, or charity donation requests. This may be a scheme to access your personal information.
5. Create A Strong Password For Your Personal Router
You must create a complex password for your business or home router that has access to the internet. People in your range can virtually access your wireless networks or routers without password protection. Hackers with extensive experience in committing cybercrime activities could use this to their maximum benefit by stealing and using your confidential information, such as credit card information. For additional protection, it is also important that you enable your router’s encryption feature to scramble data that you send online.
6. Only Enable Cookies on Your Web Browsers When Absolutely Necessary
Cookies are simply the details stored on your PC after accessing and using a website. They include information about what you do on the websites you access and a list of websites you access while online and using different types of web browsers. You should only enable cookies on your web browsers when a website requires it. This is necessary to protect your information. Most websites store the details about your cookies privately. However, cookies also provide dishonest people with access to your online information. As such, it is not recommended that you enable cookies on your browsers when the websites you are accessing have not prompted it.
7. Always Use An Effective Virtual Private Network (VPN) When Using Public Wi-Fi
Using a VPN enables you to tunnel your internet activity via a secure network designed to safeguard your personal information from unauthorized people. Always open a VPN account and ensure its service is active before accessing a public hotspot.
Learning and mastering the aforementioned seven steps can significantly aid in protecting yourself in the digital world, assisting in stopping unnecessary access to your information by unauthorized persons or malware. If you want to learn several more ways to stay safe online, do not forget to check out my other articles.