It’s Time For an Online Security Review to Protect Yourself Online

Online privacy and internet security have never been more important, but it can be confusing when trying to figure out what to do. In this blog, we’ll go over what you should do to protect yourself online, from having strong passwords to avoiding the use of unsecured public wifi and instead opting for a VPN.

Use a VPN.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, it’s a private disguised network. This enables its users to send and receive data through networks both public or shared networks and it helps to keep their computers functioning as if they were connected to a private network.  It is a service that encrypts data and hides your IP address.  Essentially creating a data tunnel between your local network and an exit node in another location.  VPNs are a better way to use your mobile device than an unsecured public wifi server, particularly if you are going to be putting in social security numbers or any financial data.

Use Two Factor Authentications

Whenever two-factor authentications are available on your mobile apps or computers it’s best to do so. Two Factor authentications are when you’re asked for a security code or texted, call, or email a verification code. Although some find it slightly annoying, it helps to keep your account safe from others who may have hacked your username and/or passwords. It particularly important for you to opt into the two-factor authentications when you sign in to your bank.

Pick Strong Passwords.

Although no one wants to experience online theft, some still are not equating their online passwords with their internet safety. Passwords that are some form of your first or last name, along with your dog or children’s names are not secure and can be found easily by hackers. Those, along with sequential numbers ie 1,2,3,4 and using “password” as your password is not good options when thinking about online security.

Update Your Devices and Programs Consistently

Many computers and smartphones have automatic updates, and when trying to protect yourself online, you should opt into those updates as they generally fix bugs and security holes within the programs or devices.

Don’t Open Emails From Stangers

We’ve all made the mistake at one point or another of opening an email from someone we don’t know, only to find that it’s spam. These emails can have malware built-in and can be used to steal your information. Malware can be downloaded from the email to your hard drive without you downloading anything from the device. If you do make this mistake, immediately delete the email and turn off your device.

Don’t Click on Strange Links

There can also be malware within links that you think are going to take you to a funny video of a baby monkey. If you get sent a link by a friend or family member that looks a bit off, for example, it has typos or the capitalization is off double-check with the person who sent it that they in fact did send the link to be sure that it won’t spread malware to your computer.

Make Sure Your Data is Backed Up Weekly

If you are the victim of malware, you may not have access to your data unless you’ve backed it up. You have a few options to back up your data. Perhaps the safest option is purchasing an external hard drive and creating a secured password for the drive. Another option is to turn on auto-sync to your iPhone or computer, this will automatically back up your information on the cloud. There have however been some cloud hacks throughout the years, most notably “The Fappening” which was when female celebrities got their iPhones pictures stolen and posted to the internet.

Avoid Sharing Personal Information Online Whenever Possible

When creating usernames for social media or online sites, try to not use your full name whenever possible. When chatting, DM-ing, or Facebook Messaging with a stranger, be sure to never give out personal information online as cybercriminals can do a lot with a little. Think of meeting strangers online like meeting a stranger in real life, don’t give out your name, address, or credit card number, no matter what the circumstances are.

Be Aware of What the Most Common Online Scams Are.

Knowing what to look for can help immensely when trying to protect yourself online. Phishing is the most common online scam, and it can mimic emails from organizations you trust. Shopping Scams are also common when fake companies try to sell you products that they never intend on sending. If this happens, immediately notify your bank and change your credit card number.

Touching Back on VPN and Its All-Inclusive Purposes.

Without a VPN your internet service provider has access at any time to your entire browsing history.  With a VPN it is hidden because it’s using the servers IP address and not yours.  To put it lightly a VPN can hide a lot of sensitive information that can put your privacy at risk.

Internet security can be overwhelming, but these are good first steps to take to keep yourself and your data safe online.

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