Whether you are an employee, owner, or a home worker, your work will certainly involve the internet. However, while the digital world offers a wide range of tools to boost productivity, it is also a hotbed for malware and fraud tools designed to steal your information.
Wondering how you can stay safe while online? Read on for 6 must-know tips every savvy netizen should know.
1. Keep your antivirus updated
In simple terms, an antivirus works by scanning your machine for malware and helping you restrict its spread.
Unfortunately, malware is constantly evolving. As these internet nasties grow in number and sophistication, the best defense is to frequently update your antivirus.
By updating your antivirus, you make sure your system is up-to-speed with newly identified viruses and equipped with the latest tools to remove them.
2. Hide your IP address
If you don’t like stalkers knowing where you are physically, chances are you don’t want snoops knowing where you are (or what you’re doing) online.
Whether you want to access social media while abroad, watch the latest sports online, or just want to conceal your internet activity from your ISP, you can’t go wrong by making a habit of hiding your IP.
There are many ways to hide your IP address. The safest and most reliable to do this is to use a VPN (more on this later).
3. Use a strong password
If you’re still use “Password” as your password in 2017, you should probably stop using the internet (for your own good). Your passwords are like the keys to your apartment. Don’t settle for one that any stranger can guess and replicate.
There are many techniques for building strong passwords, such as mixing in a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols to using two-factor authentication for additional security. Another avenue to consider is using a password generator to create passwords that cannot be easily cracked via brute force hacking. You may also want to use a password manager to help you store your passwords.
4. Don’t access confidential information on public networks and machines
With the prevalence of Wi-Fi, it’s often a temptation to connect to a public network while traveling or working on the go. The same can often be said for using public computers in libraries and airports.
While it’s not a problem to use public machines and networks for non-private matters, it would be a very bad idea to log into your social media, bank, or work accounts while on these machines/networks. A bugged machine may have keyloggers installed to track what you type, while a rogue network may capture your data and send it to nefarious individuals while injecting malware into your own device.
5. Beware of cookies
Cookies were designed to help websites remember visitors, allowing them to provide a more personalized experience to each user. However, they can also be abused to track your online activity and to send you targeted advertisements.
To protect yourself from malicious cookies, remember to delete any cookies after each browsing session. You can also use a private web browser such as Tor.
6. Use a VPN
A VPN is a swiss-army knife for online safety. It hides your IP address (as mentioned above), anonymizes the data you send into the internet, and can even let you access geolocation-specific discounts and content.
That said, be careful when choosing a VPN provider. Make sure the provider offers a wide range of locations, does not keep user-identifying logs, and is not a free VPN service. Maintaining high quality VPN servers is not a cheap proposition, and if they’re not charging you for it, they’re almost certainly making money by selling your activity to a third party somewhere else.
The internet remains a wonderful place for productivity, entertainment, and innovation. However, many dangers await the unwary. Remember to follow these practices, exercise common sense whenever you’re unsure, and you’ll be able to enjoy the best of the internet without worry.