Got a problem? The internet probably has a solution for it. People today refer to the internet for most of their needs. This increased reliance on the internet leaves them prone to online security risks.
Hackers and other criminals on the web are always looking for their opportunity to attack. Millions of people around the world fall prey to security threats while browsing the internet.
But you don’t have to be another statistic. There are plenty of proven ways to stay one step ahead of hackers when browsing online. Here are some tips:
Choose Your Browsers Wisely
There are dozens of web browsers all competing for your attention. You are at liberty to choose any of them, but security should be at the top of your list of factors to consider.
Different web browsers have different security protocols implemented to keep users safe from emerging online threats such as phishing and tracking. They perform and rank differently in this category.
The most reliable and secure web browsers are Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Firefox. They are not only more secure than most other browsers but also more convenient and advanced.
Also, be sure to update your browsers whenever there is a new release to stay one step ahead of hackers.
Beware of phishing
Phishing is another common technique that hackers use to steal your vital data. It mainly involves the use of bogus emails and websites masquerading as real ones.
They will try to trick you into keying in your credentials and record them when you do so. They can then use this information to get into your private online platforms.
For instance, phishing is a common way to get access to passwords to social media sites and even banking portals such as PayPal.
There are numerous phishing techniques that hackers use, so it is important to always be on the lookout. At the very least, always double-check any prompt on your email or browser to ensure that the sender is indeed legitimate. Learn more about phishing email.
Check the Validity and Credibility of Websites you Visit
The most basic thing you can do to ensure your safety when browsing online is to check the credibility of the sites you visit. This can easily be done by inspecting their web addresses.
Secure websites usually feature the prefix HTTPS, which stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure. This may also be accompanied by a green lock. It ensures that all data transmitted via the website is encrypted and not useful to any would-be eavesdroppers.
Avoid websites that simply start with HTTP and WWW if you intend on transferring sensitive data over the website.
Use a Password Manager
Your log-in credentials such as usernames and passwords are keys to any private accounts you may have online. They should always be kept safe and private. However, it is often the case that you have too many passwords and other credentials to remember.
Most people solve this by giving their web browsers permission to remember their usernames and passwords. This is convenient but risky as this exposes your sensitive credentials to hackers.
If you absolutely have to store your password on your computer, then do so on a password manager. This is a secure program that is designed to store sensitive data and keep it beyond the grasp of hackers.
Most password managers are free and easy to use – you just need to remember the manager’s password to get access to all the other log-in credentials you use.
Use a VPN When Using Public Networks
Public Wi-Fi is convenient and free but hardly ever secure. Hackers can easily eavesdrop on your data transmissions using simple tools as most public networks are often unprotected. To this end, it is recommendable to always use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi.
VPN stands for virtual private network. This means that your particular connection to the internet is private at all times, even if you are using public Wi-Fi.
The VPN encrypts all the data coming and going to/from your computer. This then ensures that eavesdroppers get nothing but gibberish if they attempt to hack you.
VPN also has many more security features including preventing tracking by masking your IP address. Features, however, vary from one service provider to another.
As security gets more complex, additional options that integrate VPNs become available. For example, Aura is a comprehensive digital security platform that is open for early access.
Their goal is to integrate many types of security protections into one easy-to-use solution. With the IoT planning to link anything and everything, this becomes increasingly important.
Keep Trackers Off Your Scent
Your online footprint is valuable data and multiple parties are always keeping track of all your online activities. Tracking is common, but that doesn’t mean that you should tolerate it.
There are several ways to keep trackers off your back when browsing online. Start with the basic: enable the ‘Do Not Track’ feature on your browser and turn off cookies.
This should keep most trackers off your back. However, some websites may refuse you access if you choose to turn cookies off. Luckily, there are many ways to browse privately.
Another way to keep trackers off is by browsing in incognito mode – this will ensure all your data is deleted once your session ends.
A VPN is also effective here as it hides your identity, essentially making all your browsing private. It is also recommended to create separate users’ profiles on your browsers dedicated solely for browsing social media sites.
What Online Security Risks Are You Taking?
Use the tips above to reduce your online security risks. You are the only person who can! What else can you do? See the infographic below for more tips:
Source: Getting Out of the Phish Net
Featured Image: Shutterstock / By Khakimullin Aleksandr
Note: originally published 1/2/19; updated 5/1/20 to add infographic and improve SEO and readability; updated 4/6/21 to add new options for security.
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