Ransomware attacks, identity theft and online credit card fraud can be devastating. These are just a few of the many types of malicious software and network attacks. If you have never been the victim of an injury, you can be lucky, but do not let your happiness lead you to complacency.
Making your devices, your online identity and your activities more secure is not a big hassle. In fact, some of our tips on what you can do to be safer online are reduced to something more than common sense. These 12 tips for more security in your online life help to make you safer.
. 1 Install an antivirus program and keep it up to date.
We call this type of software an antivirus program, but it protects against malicious software of all kinds. Ransomware encrypts your files and requests a payment to restore them. Trojan horse programs look like valid programs, but steal your private data behind the scenes. Bots turn your computer into a soldier in a zombie army ready to launch a denial-of-service attack or spam or whatever the bot herder commands. An effective antivirus protects against these and many other types of malware.
Theoretically, you can set and forget your antivirus protection, have it hummed in the background, download updates, and so on. In practice, you should look every now and then. Most antivirus utilities display a green banner or icon if everything is OK. When you open the utility and see yellow or red, follow the instructions to get things back on track.
Regardless of whether you have opted for a simple antivirus program or a complete security suite, you must renew it every year. It's best to sign up for auto-renewal. For some security products, this provides a malware-free warranty. You can always retire later if you feel the urge to switch to another product.
One more thing. If your antivirus or security suite does not have ransomware protection, you should add a separate layer of protection. Many ransomware-specific utilities are completely free, so there's no reason not to try some of them and choose the one that works best for you.
2. Discover the security tools you install
Many great apps and settings help protect your devices and identity. However, they are only useful if you know how to use them properly. If you understand the tools that you believe protect them, you'll take a big step toward the tools that truly protect you. For example, your smartphone almost certainly has an option to find it at loss, and you may even have it turned on. But have you tried it actively so you know how to use it when needed?
Your antivirus program may have the ability to fend off potentially unwanted applications (PUAs). It's just malware, but nothing useful. Check the detection settings and make sure they are configured to block these nuisances. Similarly, your security suite may contain components that are not active until you enable them. When you install a new security product, scroll through all the pages of the main window and take a look at the settings.
To be sure your antivirus program is properly configured and working properly, you can visit the Security Features page on the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO) Web site. Each feature page lists the anti-virus programs that you want to pass. If you appear in the list but are unsuccessful, it's time to contact technical support and find out why.
3. Use unique passwords for each login ,
One of the simplest ways hackers steal information is to get a combination of username and password from one source and try the same combinations elsewhere. For example, suppose hackers have obtained your username and password by hacking an e-mail provider. You may be trying to sign in to banking sites or large online stores using the same username and password combination. The best way to prevent a data breach from causing a domino effect is to use a unique password for every single online account you have.
Creating a unique and secure password for each account does not allow a job for a human. That's why you use a password manager. Several very good password managers are free, and it will not be long before you use one. However, password managers typically offer more features.
If you use a password manager, you only need to remember the master password that locks the password manager itself. After unlocking, Password Manager will automatically log you into your online accounts. Not only does this help make you safer, it also increases your efficiency and productivity. You no longer have to worry about entering your enrollments or dealing with the time-consuming frustration of resetting a forgotten password.
4. Get a VPN and use it.
If you connect to the Internet over a Wi-Fi network that you do not know, you should use a virtual private network or a VPN. Suppose you go to a café and connect to a free Wi-Fi network. You do not know anything about the security of this connection. It's possible that someone else in the network, without your knowledge, can search or steal files and data sent from your laptop or mobile device. A VPN encrypts your Internet traffic and directs it through a server owned by the VPN company. This means that nobody, not even the owner of the free Wi-Fi network, can spy on your data.
Using a VPN also hides your IP address. Advertisers and trackers that you want to identify or locate using this IP address will instead see the address of the VPN company. By spoofing your location with a VPN server in another country, you can also unlock content that is not available in your area. More seriously, journalists and activists in repressive countries have long used VPN technology for secure communications.
The result is that if you connect via Wi-Fi, whether on a laptop, phone or tablet, you really need a VPN. If you have never used such a device before or the technology sounds a bit beyond your Internet know-how, do not worry, we've covered our features for setting up and using a VPN.
5. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication can be very painful, but makes your accounts absolutely secure. Two-factor authentication requires you to enter another level of authentication, not just a username and password, to get into your accounts. If the data or personal information in an account is confidential or valuable and the account offers two-factor authentication, you should enable it. Gmail, Evernote, and Dropbox are some examples of online services that provide two-factor authentication.
Two-Factor Authentication verifies your identity with at least two different forms of authentication: something you are, something you have or something you know. Something you know is of course the password. Something that you are could mean authentication with a fingerprint or face recognition. Something you have could be your phone. You may be prompted to enter a text-encoded code or tap a confirmation button in a mobile app. Something you have could also be a physical security key. Google and Microsoft have announced that they will drive this type of authentication.
If you only use a password for authentication, anyone who knows this password has your account. If two-factor authentication is enabled, the password alone will be unusable. Most password managers support two-factoring features. However, some only require this when they detect a connection from a new device. Enabling two-factor authentication for your password manager is a must.
Our feature of having two-factor authentication and how to set it up can help you get started.
6. Using Passcodes Even When They Are Optional
Apply a passcode lock wherever available, even if it is optional. Think of all personal information and connections on your smartphone. It is unthinkable to forego a passcode lock.
Many smartphones offer a four-digit PIN at default. Do not be satisfied with that. If available, use biometric authentication and set a strong passcode and not a silly four-digit PIN. Keep in mind that even if you use the Touch ID or equivalent authentication, you can authenticate with the passcode. Therefore, the code must be strong.
Modern iOS devices offer a six-digit option; ignore it. Go to Settings> Touch ID and Passcode and select Change Passcode (or Add Passcode if you do not have one). If necessary, enter your old passcode. Select Custom Alphanumeric Code on the screen to enter the new code. Enter a strong password and note it as a secure note in your password manager.
Different Android devices offer different paths for setting strong passwords. Find your screen lock settings on your device, enter your old PIN, and select Password (if available). Add a strong password like the iOS device and make a note of it as a secure note.
7. Pay With Your Smartphone
The system of credit card usage is outdated and not at all secure. It's not your fault, but there's something you can do about it. Instead of the old credit card, use Apple Pay or an equivalent of Android wherever you can. There are countless possibilities when it comes to apps. In fact, we have quite a few mobile payment apps.
Setting up your smartphone as a payment device is usually a simple process. Typically, a photo of the credit card that you use to secure your app-based payments begins. And the setup ends pretty much there. You are ready.
Point of sale terminals that support smartphone-based payment usually display the fact with a symbol, from the image of a hand holding a smartphone, to a stylized representation of a radio wave. Just put your device on the terminal, authenticate yourself with a fingerprint and you have paid.
How could this be better than using the credit card itself? The app generates a single-use authentication code that applies only to the current transaction. Even if someone created this code, it would not do them any good. By paying with a smartphone app, data theft is completely ruled out by a credit card skimmer.
Some smartphone payment apps allow you to pay online with a similar one-time code. If this is not the case, contact your credit card provider. For example, Bank of America has a program called ShopSafe that works like this: you log in to your account, generate a 16-digit number, a security code and an expiration date on the card, and then set a time if you want all of them Expire digits. You use the new temporary numbers instead of your real credit card when you shop online, and the charges go to your regular account. The temporary card number will not work after it expires. Other banks offer similar services. The next time your credit card company or bank calls you to try and sell upgrades, ask for one-time card numbers.
You can also get the use of credit card numbers with one-time use third-party apps. For example, Abine Blur can mask credit card numbers, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers. You buy and communicate as usual, but the dealer does not get your actual information.
8. Use Different E-Mail Addresses for Different Types of Accounts
People who are both highly organized and methodical for security purposes often use different e-mail addresses for different purposes to separate their associated online identities. If a phishing email claiming to be from your bank gets into the account you use for social media only, you know it's fake.
Consider maintaining an email address that is suitable for registering apps that you want, but which may have questionable security or that you may spam with promotional messages , After verifying a service or app, sign in with one of your permanent email accounts. If the dedicated account receives spam, close it and create a new one. This is a do-it-yourself version of the masked emails you receive from Abine Blur and other available email account services.
Many websites equate your e-mail address with your username Username Consider using a different username every time – hey, your password manager remembers that! Anyone trying to get into your account must guess both username and password.
9. Clear Cache
Never underestimate how much you know about your browser's cache. Saved cookies, saved searches, and Web History can reference the home address, family information, and other personal information.
To protect the information that may be contained in Lurking your weblog, be sure to delete the browser cookies and regularly delete your browsing history. It's easy. Just press Ctrl + Shift + Delete in Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Opera to open a dialog box where you can select which elements of the browser data you want to delete.
Deleting cookies can cause problems for some websites. You lose any personalization you have made. In most browsers, you can list favorite websites whose cookies you do not want to use.
For a complete walkthrough, see our emptying cache feature in any browser.
10. Disable the "Save Password" feature in browsers
If you know what your browser may know about you, most browsers include a built-in password management solution. However, we at PCMag do not recommend it. We believe it is best to leave password protection to the experts who create password managers.
Think about it. When you install a third-party password manager, it usually offers to import your password from the browser's store. If the password manager can do this, you can be sure that malicious software can do the same. Keeping your passwords in a single, centralized password manager means you can use them on all browsers and devices.
11. Do not fall victim to the bait
Part of securing your online life is to be smart at what you click. Click Bait does not just refer to videos of cat composition and catchy headlines. It can also contain links in email, messaging apps and on Facebook. Phishing links masquerade as secure sites, hoping to get you to give them your credentials. Drive-by download sites can cause malware to automatically download and infect your device.
Do not click links in emails or text messages, unless they come from a secure source. Be careful even then; Your trusted source may have been compromised or the message is a fake. The same goes for links on social media sites, also in posts that seem to come from your friends. If a post looks different than the style of your social media buddy, it could be a hack.
12. Protect Your Social Media Privacy
The Facebook data collected by Cambridge Analytics convinces with its security. If you were smart enough not to load the app in question, researchers did not get your personal information directly, but they may have received some details from their less careful friends.
You can download your Facebook data to display what the social media giant knows about you. This can be a real eye-catcher, especially if you're the type of person who regularly clicks on quizzes that need access to your social media account. You do not really need to know which Marvel Universe Hero (or villain) you are.
You can dramatically reduce the amount of data for Facebook by completely disabling the sharing platform. After this, your friends can not lose your personal information. You can not lose data to apps because you can not use apps. And you can not use Facebook to log in to other websites (which has always been a bad idea).
Of course, other social media sites need attention too. Google probably knows more about you than Facebook. Take steps to protect your Google privacy. Make sure that you have configured each social media site so that your posts are not public (all but Twitter). Think twice before giving away too much in one post because your friends might share it with others. With caution, you can preserve your privacy without losing the entertainment and connections of social media.