Digitization is an integral part of the modern world. There is only so much you can do without digital innovations, from increasing efficiency to bridging communication gaps. Despite the myriad of perks associated with digitization, this is not always a bed of roses.
Cyberbullying, data breaches, and identity theft are some of the unpleasant consequences of digitization. The emergence of next-gen technologies has opened up hackers to sophisticated tools that allow them to intercept sensitive information. This has left people vulnerable to attacks.
To minimize such occurrences, taking the time to safeguard yourself online is of paramount importance. Most people use anti-virus software to protect themselves from both internal and external attacks. However, this is not enough.
In this article, we share various strategies you can take to protect your digital self every day.
Let us delve into specifics.
● Avoid opening suspicious emails
Phishing is one of the most common cyberattacks. These emails are mostly disguised to look like they are from reputable companies such as financial institutions and service providers.
In most cases, they come with downloadable attachments or links. Following through any of the above exposes your device to malware. For these reasons, watch out for emails that address you as ‘Dear subscriber’ and not by your name. Also, take caution when handling emails from strangers. Before you open a suspicious email, you can use Nuwber to verify the sender’s identity.
● Choose private Wi-Fi over public
There is rarely any restaurant or establishment that does not offer public Wi-Fi nowadays. Since many people use it, it is now a hotspot for hackers looking to intercept people’s sensitive information. As such, avoid using public Wi-Fi to conduct financial transactions and other private activities. Choose a secured private Wi-Fi.
Additionally, if you have Wi-Fi installed, give it a unique name that does not obviously imply that it belongs to you. Also, use complex passwords and configure the routers to avoid broadcasting the name of the network.
● Use complex passwords
You may be surprised that people still use ‘qwerty’ or ‘123456789’ as their passwords. Others may use the word ‘password.’ Hackers are aware of such trends and will try these passwords first as they try to gain access to your network. If unsuccessful, they will try using your pet names and your birth date.
As such, the importance of using complex passwords cannot be over-emphasized. Incorporate numbers, symbols, capital, and small letters. If you have problems finding an ideal password, a password manager will come in handy. It helps you generate hard-to-guess passwords that you can remember.
Besides, make sure you change your password a few times annually.
● Protect your browsing
Technological advancements in information technology are getting more sophisticated by the day. To improve user experience and tap into the lucrative online market, companies are incorporating targeted ads into their marketing campaigns.
Targeted ads will store your browsing history and use the information to offer suggestions for places to visit, what to read, and many other things. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals take advantage of this technology and create ads that store user information and browsing habits.
To protect your sensitive information, keep your privacy settings on and use tools like VPN. Also, use applications and browser extensions that block ads. Blocking interest-based advertisements from major social media platforms and websites is another viable idea. These practices will not completely prevent third parties from gaining access to your information, but they will minimize your risk significantly.
● Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication offers an additional layer of security to keep you safe from online predators.
The two-factor authentication works in a pretty straightforward way. When attempting to log into your account, the website will want to confirm your authenticity by asking you to answer a few personal questions. These are security questions you chose and answered during the sign-up process.
Other websites will send a verification code to the phone registered to the service, giving them limited time to use it to access the account. Failure to which the access codes will expire.
A good example of this type of authentication is on Gmail. When you attempt to log into your account with a new device, Gmail will send you a login-attempt email. It will also display a unique number on the device you are trying to log on from, then send a pop-up message containing three numbers on your phone. The message asks you to click on the number displayed on the new device. Unless you do this, you will not gain access to your account
● Regularly update your software
Software developers create updates and patches for security improvements. They also fix bugs in previous software versions.
To be on par with the latest security advancement, make sure you regularly update your software. If you are busy, turn automatic updates on. However, you need to periodically confirm that all your software is up-to-date.
● Be wise with online transactions
The Internet brought forth a new breed of consumers – the online consumer.
Online consumers will identify goods and services and pay for them instantly using their credit cards. Doing so exposes your financial information to third parties. For this reason, making sure that you are submitting your information to a secure website is vital.
Be on the lookout for the ‘s’ in ‘HTTPS:’ It shows that the website uses an encrypted connection. Also, be cautious about saving your sensitive information on e-commerce websites. Hackers realize that many online consumers are likely to keep their financial information on these websites, making such platforms vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
Protecting yourself online cannot be over-emphasized. These are some of the online practices you can incorporate in your digital life to secure your online experience.
To be more effective, encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to adopt these practices as well. Considering that the number of online predators is steadily increasing, teaching your children about cyber safety is imperative. Suppose the people you live and work with do not understand the importance of staying safe on digital platforms. In that case, all previous efforts may be in vain.