This guest post is written by Caroline Black, an internet security expert and writer for Secure Thoughts.
It’s common to have the security of your home on your mind, but have you ever wondered about internet security? Using the internet can unfortunately present a different set of risks, many of which can threaten more than just your computer. Let’s not forget that the internet is accessible on mobile devices too, such as smartphones and tablets.
Fortunately, mobile devices can be protected with many of the same strategies that are used for home computers. However, internet security is something that often doesn’t come as common sense. It must be taught, and if you’re not yet sure how to protect your devices, you’re in the right place!
Here are four essential tips for internet security.
Proper Security Software
The first thing you should do is install security software. Even if you prefer to access the net on your smartphone over your computer, proper security software is still a necessity. In fact, the likelihood is that the same software provider you use for your home computer make a smartphone app that you can use.
A free anti-virus program from Avast will scan your device for malware and remove any that may be present. The most important tip to remember about anti-virus programs is that the scans are not always performed automatically, so you must remember to run a manual scan on a regular basis.
Another way to avoid malware is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. A VPN will protect you from having your information stolen due to an unsafe internet connection. Many people don’t know that public WiFi that is used on tablets and smartphones while on the go isn’t secure. Hackers often use it as an easy access point. Once they make their way into your device, they can infect it with malware and spy on your activities.
So what does a VPN service do? As described in this VPN review by Secure Thoughts, it allows you to connect to a remote server and encrypts (secures) your internet connection. Since your IP address is used to determine your location and gets replaced by the remote server’s, your location becomes hidden so you can also maintain a better level of privacy.
Since passwords are used for all of your online accounts, so it’s important to ensure they’re considered strong. To do this, you have to contain the following in your passwords:
- Both uppercase and lowercase letters
- Symbols (when possible)
Sounds easy enough, but don’t forget to exclude a few things as well, such as:
- Personal information of any kind
- Words found in the dictionary
Perhaps the biggest mistake many internet users make in regards to their passwords is using the word “password” in them (or something similarly simple) or reusing the same one for multiple accounts. On that note, it’s also important to safeguard passwords by keeping them to yourself. No one ever needs to know your password if they’re asking for it in an email.
If it seems like remembering a different password for each account can get too difficult, consider creating some passphrases to help you remember them or using a password manager.
Your data on your devices can get wiped at any moment. Though this typically occurs due to malware and you’ll be well-protected with security software, there’s still a chance for things to end up in a way you hadn’t planned. Hackers are always coming up with new ways to stir up some trouble for internet users, so even the best software can’t guarantee immunity from cyberattacks.
Sometimes hardware such as SD cards and flash drives can become corrupted too, but that is why it’s important to not only keep backups but to keep more than one copy. You can transfer all of your files to the tools above (or an external hard drive) to back it up, but some prefer backup services instead.
Many backup services and software store your data online. This method is considered safe, but if you choose to do this, it would be wise to keep copies on SD cards or flash drives too, as well as your computer. It’s best to store a copy of your backup in at least three different places.
Updating your software and operating system is a crucial step towards avoiding malware. The updates often contain patches to security vulnerabilities within the software, which will prevent hackers from using that vulnerability as a way to infiltrate your devices.
Most software updates automatically, but pay close attention because sometimes you will have to update it manually. If it appears updates are not automatic, check the settings for the potential option of enabling them to be.
Though these are some of the top tips for cybersecurity, don’t stop here! There is much more to learn, and by educating yourself on the risks of the internet and how to avoid them, you’ll be much safer online overall.
Are there any internet safety tips you use regularly? Are you already taking care of everything mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below.
About the Author: Caroline is an internet security expert and writer. Due to the increase in cybercrime, she has made it her mission to share her knowledge with other internet users to help create a safer online environment for everyone.