9 Simple Things You Can Do to Be More Secure Online In 2021
There is nothing 100% safe as long as you are on the internet. With hacks, scams, malware, the internet can feel like a dangerous place these days. However, implementing a small handful of security measures we can greatly reduce our exposure to all these threats. So, here are some simple things that you can do to be more safe and secure.
Install A VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Most important, VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.
VPNs essentially create a data tunnel between your local network and an exit node in another location, which could be thousands of miles away, making it seem as if you’re in another place. This benefit allows online freedom, or the ability to access your favorite apps and websites while on the go.
Hers’s Why We Recommend ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN, which comes highly rated by users and reviewers, works on devices including Windows, Android, iOS, Linux and routers. Based in the British Virgin Islands, it costs around $8.32 a month if you take out a 12-month plan. With a network of more than 2,000 servers in 94 countries, Express offers top-notch coverage in Europe and the US. It also works pretty well in Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Africa. It uses its own DNS servers and employs high-end encryption tech to ensure your security and privacy.
ExpressVPN offers access to more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries, alongside maybe the widest platform support you’ll find anywhere.
We’re not just talking about native clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, plus iOS, Android, and even BlackBerry. There’s a custom firmware for some routers, DNS content-unblocking for a host of streaming media devices and smart TVs, and surprisingly capable VPN browser extensions for anything which can run them.
All that functionality could sound intimidating to VPN newbies, but ExpressVPN does more than most to help. An excellent support website is stuffed with detailed guides and tutorials to get you up and running. And if you do have any trouble, 24/7 live chat support is on hand to answer your questions.
The good news continues elsewhere, with ExpressVPN delivering in almost every area. Bitcoin payments? Of course. P2P support? Yep. Netflix unblocking? Naturally. Industrial-strength encryption, kill switch, DNS leak protection, solid and reliable performance, and a clear no-logging policy? You’ve got it.
Downsides? Not many to speak of. The ExpressVPN service supports five simultaneous connections per user (increased recently from three), and it comes with a premium price tag. But if you want a speedy service, crammed with top-notch features, and with all the support you need to help you use them, ExpressVPN will be a great fit. While they don’t have a free trial, ExpressVPN has a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t happy with the service.
Install An Reliable Antivirus Software
A good security product must include several security layers that protect you against modern cyber threats. A good antivirus is good against traditional types of malware, but that does not mean that your computer cannot get infected by ransomware, which can be even more damaging than a conventional virus. That is why we believe that, when you look for your next security solution, you should check whether it offers all-inclusive protection. This means protection against the following types of threats:
Viruses – programs with malicious intents which are characterized by the fact that they can multiply themselves and thus infect other computers or devices. Viruses are usually tied to an executable file which, when you unknowingly run it, also acts as the trigger for the virus.
Trojans (Horses) – are malicious software that can masquerade as common software and because of that, can trick you into downloading and running them on your computer. When you do that, trojans usually open the gate to other forms of malware on your computer.
Worms – are malicious programs that take advantage of the security holes and vulnerabilities in your operating system or other software (like your web browser for instance) and use them to infect your computer. Unlike regular viruses, worms can multiply and spread by themselves, without you having to run an infected file.
Spyware – software programs that are designed to spy and gather intelligence about you. Spyware tries to hide from you, from the operating system and your security solution and, after it collects information about you, it tries to send it to hacker-controlled servers.
Rootkits – a particular type of malware designed to give hackers remote access and control of a device, without being detected by the victims or the security software installed on the infected devices. When a hacker gains access to a rootkit infected device, he or she can use it to remotely access, copy and execute the files on it, change operating system settings, install additional software (usually other types of malware) and so on. By definition, rootkits are a stealthy kind of malware, so they are somewhat harder to detect and remove from an infected machine.
Ransomware – malicious programs that, once they infect your computer, they take control and encrypt your files, like your pictures, work documents, and videos. Once that happens, ransomware programs try to make you pay considerable amounts of money to their creators, so that you can get your files back.
Adware – software programs that display advertisements on your screen, in your web browsers or other places on your computer. It may not be malware by definition, but adware almost always hurts your computer’s performance and your user experience, and can also help infect your computer with malware.
Network attacks – when hackers try to take control of your devices remotely, they can do that through a “break” approach. That is when you need a firewall to stop network attacks. A good firewall must be able to deflect attacks from the outside but also tell you about suspicious traffic that is initiated from your computer to the outside world.
Web threats – your web browser should be the first in the line of defense against malware. That is why a good security solution has to include a web protection module that can stop you from visiting websites with malicious content. It is better to deal with malware in your browser than to have to do that when it reaches your computer.
Always Enable Security Updates
Software is complex and often has minor bugs. Hackers find and exploit these bugs to install malicious software. “Malware” – short for “malicious software” – can capture everything that you type (including your PayPal username and password) and send it to scammers who use the information to access your account.
Fortunately, device makers and application developers are very diligent about providing updates to operating systems and applications. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your system and applications updated with the latest releases. The easiest way to do this is to enable automatic updates for your system and applications when possible.
Create A Unique Password
As always, creating a unique password is the vital first step to securing an online presence. While using one password across multiple sites is easier, it can leave you particularly vulnerable. If someone trying to gain access to your sensitive information figures out your password on any one of those sites, they can then access your other accounts. Especially with an app like PayPal that is connected to bank information, it’s important to create a strong password that you don’t reuse for any other accounts.
Secure Your Smart Phone
Don’t forget about your smartphone and tablet. Most people don’t secure these as well as they should. By following a few simple tips from PayPal and NCSA, you can have greater security and better peace of mind:
- Always activate a PIN or lock function for your mobile device.
A PIN is the simplest and most important thing you can do to ensure security on your mobile device, especially if it’s lost or stolen.
- Automate software updates.
Many software programs can automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates on your mobile device if that option is available.
- Use common sense when downloading apps.
Unknown or repackaged apps can contain malware designed to steal financial information from a mobile device. So always purchase or download apps from companies that you trust and check reviews. When installing new applications, review permissions and decide whether you’re comfortable granting the access that an application requests.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) — also known as two-step verification or multifactor authentication — is widely used to add a layer of security to your online accounts. The most common form of two-factor authentication when logging into an account is the process of entering your password and then receiving a code via text on your phone that you then need to enter. The second layer in two-factor authentication means a hacker or other nefarious individual would need to steal your password along with your phone in order to access your account.
There are three types of authentication:
- Something you know: a password, PIN, zip code or answer to a question (mother’s maiden name, name of pet, and so on)
- Something you have: a phone, credit card or fob
- Something you are: a biometric such as a fingerprint, retina, face or voice
Always Hide Your IP Addresses
Your home, mobile phone, and office are all assigned unique identifiers by your internet service provider (ISP). Your ISP may, from time to time, allocate a new one, but over a short period, two requests from separate accounts over the same IP address is a good indicator that they are related. Depending on your country and ISP, it may be possible to find out what ZIP code belongs to each IP address, or purchase other personal information directly from your ISP or an advertising company.
Use the Tor Browser. Each tab is automatically assigned a new circuit, meaning it has its own IP address. It’s always a good idea to use a VPN additionally. If you don’t have access to Tor or the sites you are using don’t work in Tor, you should switch your VPN server location when changing your accounts.
Never Click On Short URL
A URL shortener turns a long and bulky web address into a short address using a simple redirect. Third parties usually run URL shorteners, and it’s relatively easy for anyone to set up such a service.
Don’t click on shortened links without good reason. Use services like unshorten.it to see where a shortened URL leads to. If a link is unshortened, the creator of the original link will only see information obtained from the unshortening service, rather than your data. They will, however, know when you unshortened the link.
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