Every time you go online on the internet, regardless of whether it is sending an email, using Instagram, posting a tweet, creating an online gaming account, or shopping for new clothes, you leave an online footprint.
By doing so, you put yourself at risk of a host of threats that can range from cybercriminals looking to extort you for your wealth to third parties nefariously collecting your data for those annoying targeted ads. During the pandemic, we saw a mass increase in online activity by both consumers and by cyber criminals; this resulted in 1 in 4 having thousands of dollars stolen online.
Cyber threats across the globe have become so prevalent that many governments are taking steps to develop their cybersecurity offering to get ahead of this threat that looms over cyberspace. We have seen the e-commerce and social media space grow tenfold in the last century, meaning people are putting their personal information and financial data at risk. Reports in December 2021 saw that 66% of online users are worried that their data will be stolen, which means it is key that we take steps to protect ourselves online.
Here is some useful advice when armoring yourself and your online identity:
Stock Up On Security Tools
Security tools online are things that essentially protect you from any threats that can plant themselves on your computer, track your info, and damage or corrupt the data. The tools work online to screen against any potential malware, spyware, and phishing attempts that can sneak onto your PC as you browse the web.
An antivirus is a program that carries out the above, whilst a firewall acts more like a layer that monitors all incoming and outcoming internet traffic. If it notices something suspicious or threatening, it will work to block it and protect your network.
A VPN works to encrypt the internet traffic so any cybercriminals or third parties that are trying to monitor your online data will be foiled – they can’t read this data. A VPN can also work to mask your IP and foil any nefarious characters from seeing where you are. Similar to a VPN, a residential IP proxy can place multiple devices at one IP address at one location, protecting multiple devices at once from having their geolocation at risk.
Bulk Your Passwords Up
Arguably the first piece of advice you should act on, the key to online safety is having a strong password protection method in place. When you put a password together, you should create something that isn’t easily guessed or hard to hack. Try to not use something that could be guessed by someone who has access to your information, instead compile something together using a combination of numbers, letters, different cases, and symbols.
Commonly, you see people use pet names, addresses, children’s names, and such – this is a critical error. Try to put a 14-character or longer word together that is a random assortment of the symbols, letters, and numbers (if you want to be particularly craft, using a comma will wreck any hacker’s CSV if they try to export your passwords in a data breach. Finally, never share your password, and try not to save it anywhere. A smart and healthy password routine is to change them every few months and have a strong password manager to keep them all in place.
Make Sure To Encrypt
When you are shopping or banking online, always take a look to make sure the site is safe and has the transactions protected by encryption. The best way to do this is to look for some key security signs in the URL. If you can see a lock symbol or an extra ‘s’ at the end of the URL, those are both key signs that the site is protected.
If you are at a point of a transaction where you are required to enter payment information, the ‘HTTP’ should change to an ‘HTTPS’ to indicate it is a secure page. These signs together show that your transaction is encrypted and therefore your online identity is safe. The only person who would have access to this is the website owner. That means any names, addresses, card information, phone numbers, and more are protected.
Protect Against The Phish
This could be the most prevalent danger you will find in online activity – the dreaded phishing email.
The phishing scam is a process where various sneaky methods of subterfuge are employed to get your personal and financial data. You can protect yourself against all the scams if you educate yourself on phishing scams and what to do to protect yourself against them.
A phishing victim is someone who absent-mindedly opens all emails, clicks on all links, conversates with all random senders, and doesn’t think twice about the implications. Don’t be this person – never open emails from people you don’t know, don’t open attachments that haven’t been scanned, and generally be wary about emails.
Using this advice, you can begin to protect your online identity and surf the web, use social media and go online shopping with the peace of mind that you are more protected than before.