These days, keeping yourself safe online can seem like an uphill battle. Between hacking, viruses, malware and other prominent cyberthreats, the web has dangers lurking around every corner. Although some people have much better luck with avoiding cyberthreats than others, your online security should never be left up to chance. Anyone looking for effective ways to beef up their digital defenses will be well-served by the following measures.
Adopt Safety-Conscious Browsing Habits
Unsafe browsing habits are among the most common reasons for online security breaches. So, if your browsing habits could use some fine tuning, there’s no time like the present to start. First off, take care to confirm that any site you visit has a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. This can be accomplished by looking at the site’s URL and confirming that it begins with “HTTPS” as opposed to “HTTP.” In essence, an SSL certificate serves to secure the data that is passed from your browser to the website’s server. Another way to identify a website protected by SSL certification is looking for a little padlock icon on the left of the site’s URL. For good measure, you should also avoid visiting websites that your browser and/or dedicated antivirus software claim are unsafe.
Refusal to click on ads from unknown or suspicious sources is another tenet of smart browsing practices. Additionally, since viruses and malware are often spread through ads, you’d do well to use a dependable ad blocker. While some browsers come with built-in ad blockers, others need them installed as add-ons. Furthermore, if your browser’s ad blocking properties are currently disabled, go ahead and turn them on. You can also help reduce the number of targeted ads that follow you around by clearing your cookies on a regular basis.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A good virtual private network (VPN) is an absolute must for security-conscious internet users. A dependable VPN encrypts your data and network traffic and masks your network identity, making it virtually impossible for others to intercept your data or track what you’re doing online. VPNs essentially conceal your IP address by redirecting network traffic through a remote server, thereby creating a data tunnel. So, if you’re tired of having your online activity tracked by third parties, don’t hesitate to start exploring the growing array of readily available VPN options. While it’s true that some VPNs are free, you’ll need VPN pro to achieve maximum protection. Fortunately, paid VPNs are affordable on virtually any budget and can provide you with tremendous peace of mind for a small annual fee. Here are the best VPN deals, so you can get the most out of your subscription – without breaking the bank.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi Whenever Possible
There’s no denying that public Wi-Fi networks serve an important purpose. Without them, many people who are unable to afford home internet service would lack regular access to the web. Unfortunately, public networks tend to lack the same level of security enjoyed by most private networks.
Since they can be accessed by anyone, public Wi-Fi networks often serve as playgrounds for cybercriminals. So, if you absolutely insist on using public Wi-Fi, there are several important precautions you’ll need to take. For starters, don’t log in to any accounts or share sensitive personal information when using public Wi-Fi, as data thieves are perpetually on the hunt for such prizes. Secondly, if it can be avoided, abstain from using public networks for business purposes, as this stands to compromise important data pertaining to your employer. Additionally, if your lack of caution is found to be the cause of data theft, you may find yourself reprimanded or fired. Lastly, never use public Wi-Fi without the protection of a VPN. Although virtual private networks are commonly associated with computers, they can also be used on phones and tablets – meaning you have no excuse not to equip all of your internet-capable devices with VPN protection.
While there’s no question that cyberthreats can be scary, protecting yourself from them doesn’t have to be an arduous undertaking. Taking the time to learn about effective cybersecurity practices and change learned behaviors can do you a world of good when it comes to staying safe online. Additionally, one needn’t be a tech wizard to keep the growing wave of cyberthreats definitively at bay. So, if your online security practices leave a lot to be desired, put the pointers discussed above to practical use.