Do you know that using antivirus software or a good VPN service is critical for your online security? In this article, we will be covering 7 best online security practices for staying safe online. But first, let’s define what online security is.
What is Online Security
Online security is a set of rules and actions a person should follow/perform while using the Internet in order to protect his or her sensitive data. In the majority of cases, following online security best practices helps achieve online safety and reduce potential risks associated with Internet exposure.
What is Online Safety
Online safety could be defined as the actual process of implementing online security measures for staying safe on the web and its final result. In other words, online safety is the outcome of online security.
Why Online Security is Important
Cybersecurity has always been a challenge and remains to be so in 2019. After all, the concept of the Internet as a means for exchanging information is not without vulnerabilities, and there will always be those who want to capitalize on them. Therefore, it’s important for us to do the very best we can to safeguard personal information and prevent potential online security threats.
What are Online Security Threats
An online security threat is an act of exploiting a vulnerability to damage or steal critical data such as credit card information, usernames, passwords, etc.
Online security threats may come in various forms, but the most common are the following:
* Trojan Horses
A botnet is a group (network) of Internet-connected devices hacked by cybercriminals to perform DDOS attacks, send malicious spam, steal data, etc. A botnet is controlled by one master computer that is also known as a “bot-herder.” A typical bot-herder sends commands to all devices within the network to carry out criminal actions. A large botnet might be a great threat not only to individual users but also to organizations as it is capable of overwhelming an entire corporate network.
Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to use fake emails, text messages, websites, or identity to gather and steal sensitive information from a victim. When carrying out phishing attacks, cyber criminals pretend to be a trusted institution or a person you know in real life.
Pharming is a form of cyberattack that works by redirecting a user to a fake website.
Spyware is a computer program that monitors and reports the actions of a user. Such a program can be used either by cybercriminals to spy on users or police to track the activities of a suspect.
Ransomware is malicious software that denies access to the user’s data until a ransom is paid.
Commonly, ransomware is distributed through phishing emails or fake/infected websites.
Malware is any type of malicious software designed to harm your computer, server, network, or use your device as an intermediary for performing cyberspace assaults.
Understanding Digital Footprint
Every time a user goes online and performs specific actions he or she leaves something that is known as a digital footprint.
A digital footprint is a traceable data trail that exists on the Internet as a result of actions a user conducts online. Usually, a user leaves a digital footprint by entering a website and accepting cookies. This also may be signing up for a social media account or forum. Typically, we are aware of the fact that our personal information will be collected, but sometimes our data is gathered without us knowing about it. With small chunks of our data being all over the Internet, we become vulnerable to some extent even without being a target of deliberate cyberattacks.
A List of Best Practices to Enhance Your Online Security
Although it is impossible to be fully protected from online threats, we still have to take all the necessary measures to stay shielded as much as we can. Here are some best online security practices to boost up your online security to the highest level:
1. Use antivirus software
Antivirus software is one of the most important things (if not the most important) to keep your device safe from all kinds of infections. Not only does it reduce the odds of getting hit by malicious programs and scripts, but it also blocks pesky ads, and even cures some viruses if they already infiltrated the system.
To keep your system clean, you have to make sure that your antivirus software is continuously updated and that you run frequent scans.
2. Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is something you have to consider using every time you go online. A VPN is an online service that hides your identity by assigning you a new IP address. It also encrypts all the traffic that goes through it so that no one could steal and read your sensitive data. A trustworthy VPN provider will offer some of the most advanced encryption protocols that will help you stay safe and anonymous in 2019 and beyond.
3. Generate and use strong passwords
Complex passwords are essential for your security. There are some robust online password generators you can use to come up with a password nobody will crack. The Google Chrome browser is also great for suggesting strong passwords. Also, you may think about changing your passwords regularly to make your protection even more effective.
4. Use firewall
A firewall adds a second layer of protection to your system. It monitors incoming and outgoing traffic and decides whether to block some packets or not based on the rules a user created. It is usually built into the majority of operating systems, and you can easily turn it on to enhance security.
5. Enable two-factor authentication
Nowadays, two-factor authentication has become rather a necessary thing. If you’re not familiar with it, basically two-factor authentication is a process during which a person provides two authentication factors to verify his or her identity and get access to the required data. With all those dangers the Internet is full of, it’s better to enable this type of authentication if provided.
6. Use script-blocking browser extensions
Some websites you access may try to inject shady java or flash scripts into your browser. Those scripts are often used to mine cryptocurrencies by using your CPU powers or clutter your browser with hidden extensions to show ads. To fight off such unsuspected attacks, you can use script blockers such as NoScript.
7. Avoid insecure Wi-Fi hotspots
Free Wi-Fi hotspots are a lure for Internet users and a rich domain of opportunities for some cybercriminals. Given that providers of these hotspots don’t offer any encryption, almost any hacker can intercept your traffic and start eavesdropping your connections. This means you can get your data stolen. We highly recommend that you stop using free Wi-Fi at all when you’re entering credit card details, passwords, or any information of this kind.