How To Protect You And Your Family From The Dangers Of The Internet
How secure are you from hackers? Are you aware of the latest threats and attacks? Understanding how to manage your personal cyber security isn’t a luxury, but has become an essential skill in the digital age.
Cybercrime has become a major threat to businesses and individuals alike. Hackers are constantly targeting companies and stealing valuable data. The consequences of being hacked can be devastating.
Cybersecurity is a complex issue that requires constant vigilance. In order to stay safe, you need to take certain precautions.
The good news is that there are a few small changes you can make to drastically increase your cyber security permanently.
This guide will teach you how to protect yourself against cyberattacks.
Step 1 – Improve Your Passwords
Strong passwords are essential for protecting your online accounts, and by extension your own personal cyber security. They must be unique and difficult to guess. You should use different passwords for each account.
How To Make A Strong Password
We all (hopefully) know that you should never use “password”, “12345”, or your birthday as your password.
But new advice suggests that we shouldn’t use any personal information when putting together passwords. The UK government is currently suggesting that people use a random series of three words – purplecowcandle – as their password.
Google recommends that you use a random series of numbers, letters, and symbols. As this is nearly impossible to hack. Understanding how to create a strong password is more important than ever…
Action – Create a list of all the accounts you own that have sensitive information attached to them. Then go through these accounts one by one and change your passwords to unique strong passwords.
Thought – How do you store your passwords? You can keep a note of your passwords on paper, on a device that is not linked to the internet, or you could use a password storage app.
Step 2 – Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of protection that adds another step to login into your account. It’s enabled by default on most websites but you may have to enable it manually.
When you use a two-factor authentication system, you will give the website or app your email or phone number. You will then receive a text or email with a one-time code every time you log in.
This means no one can log into your account without having physical access to your phone or email account. Some companies also use apps to do this now, such as Google Authenticator. This is one of the strongest ways to make sure nobody accesses your online accounts without your knowledge.
Action – As you are going through your accounts, opt-in to any offering of two-factor authentication. Remember that any time you change your phone number you will have to go back and update your accounts.
Thought – If a company does not offer two-factor authentication and they hold some sensitive information that belongs to you. You should suggest adding 2FA. Most companies are aware that this is one of the strongest ways to manage personal cyber security.
Step 3 – Keep Your Software Up To Date
Have you noticed that the software on your phone usually has one big update, followed by a series of smaller updates? This usually happens because the developers are fixing any flaws they have found in the software update.
Updating your operating system and all installed applications regularly helps keep them protected against bugs and vulnerabilities.
Hackers often look through old versions of software for flaws and vulnerabilities that were later fixed. Then will then exploit these weaknesses to try and gain access to your computer. If you keep your software up to date, you don’t have to worry about this.
We know it can be tempting to keep hitting that update later button – but it is in your best interest to keep your software up to date.
Action – go through all of the software that you own and make sure that it is up to date. You could set the software to auto-update whenever a new update is available.
Thought – Could you set aside an hour every week to go through all of your software and check that it is up to date? Most weeks you won’t have to do anything, but it will help you to make sure everything is ticking over.
Step 4 – Use A VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your internet traffic so that only the people you want to can see what you do online. This prevents third parties from spying on your activity.
If you are accessing work networks from home, then you should probably use a VPN, as it will add an extra layer of security for your company.
VPNs also allow you to access geo-restricted content. For example, if you live in the USA but really want to watch a TV show that is only available on British Netflix, then you can set your VPN to appear like you are browsing from the UK.
Most experts recommend that you never log into a public network. However, if you log in via a VPN you can do so knowing you will be a lot less vulnerable to attacks.
Action – find a VPN that offers all the features that you need. You can find VPNs that offer Chrome extensions that make logging on and off your VPN a breeze.
Thought – for more information on “what is a VPN“, check out this site.
Step 5 – Make Sure You Are Running Anti-Virus Software And A Firewall
Antivirus software protects your computer against viruses, malware, spyware, and other malicious programs. They are essential for keeping your computer safe and keeping hackers out. Firewalls are also important.
Action – Purchase and install anti-virus software and a firewall if you do not already have them. If you do already have both, make sure that they are up to date and set them to run at least a weekly scan of your software.
It is worth noting that most phones have this software installed and built-in to them.
Thought – One of the things you can do to make the work of your firewall easier is to not click on suspicious links. Never click links in unsolicited emails or messages. Never download files from untrustworthy sources. Only visit trusted websites like Google, Facebook, etc.
Trying to keep yourself safe online can seem overwhelming, however, the more you understand how hackers and online criminals work, the better you can protect yourself.
These five tips are all simple to enact and are crucial to managing your personal cyber security. If you haven’t already then we strongly recommend you apply all of these steps to your online habits.