We learn about a new data breach that leads hundreds and thousands of people into severe troubles every other day. Hackers get their data and use that for ransomware or other malicious tasks. Given a massive increase in the usage of social media apps, online shopping, and more, our online privacy has become riskier than before.
All the websites we visit and all the apps we use possess a lot of information about us, and we can be victims of cybercriminals as well. So, it’s a cause of stress for all of us. But the good news is that you can secure your online privacy, banking details, and other information from hackers by following the below-mentioned tips.
1. Only visit secure HTTPS websites
First, you must make a habit of visiting only secure HTTPS websites. When you visit a site, you can see a padlock sign on the top left side of the URL bar. The padlock sign indicates the website is safe, and you can surf on it comfortably. The URL of secure websites starts with HTTPS, and you must be sure to see this sign before visiting any site.
An unsafe website starts with HTTP, and you will also see the “Unsecure Network” warning on that site. If you want to secure your data online, this is the foremost step. You must avoid visiting or entering your personal information on insecure websites because this can lead to severe problems. Your private information can easily be accessible to hackers, and they can use it for malicious purposes.
On the other hand, an HTTPS website will keep your data safe from the reach of cybercriminals through encoding. You can visit secure websites to share information, credit card details, etc.
You must make it secure using an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate if you run a website. The SSL certificates will keep your in-transit data safe and enhance users’ trust in your website. As a result, your website will see a spike in visitors, which means increased sales or ratings. Suppose you wish to buy an SSL certificate for your website then, you will have many providers who offer discounted SSL certificates from reputed CAs. Few CAs and their certificates you can consider like Thawte SSL123, GlobalSign, Comodo SSL, etc. as these are SSL certs from reliable CAs that offer premium features at affordable prices.
2. Avoid sharing personal information on social media
Limiting private information on social media is another step towards protecting data against malicious attacks. We all use social media apps, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others, to share pictures, videos, thoughts, and everything we want. But sharing too much isn’t a good idea.
If you share too much about yourself, your family, location, or travel plans, you can easily be a victim of identity theft. They can use your details to reach you and even use that information to access your social media accounts. For example, you have shared your mother’s name on social media; cybercriminals can use it to change your passwords or access your bank accounts.
3. Use a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) secures your online presence by routing your information via an encoded virtual tunnel. It also changes your IP address to stop others from accessing your location. A VPN is handy if you are using a public Wi-Fi network.
Someone may be sharing the Wi-Fi with you to keep an eye on your movements on the web, and they can check or steal the files or other details you share on the internet. But if you are using a VPN, all your data will remain safe no matter which network you are on.
A VPN also keeps you free from the advertisers who send you unwanted ads based on your location. You can also view the unavailable material in your region through a VPN. So, you must use a VPN to protect your personal information online.
4. Do not download software from unknown publishers
Stay away from downloading and installing software from an unknown publisher. When you download software from the web and tend to install it, it shows the publisher’s name. If you see the “Unknown Publisher” in the publisher’s name field, delete that software from your PC immediately.
Unknown publisher means the program or application is not secure, and a hacker may have changed its code to use it for evil purposes. If you install that software, they can access your files or can even take control of your system. So, you must download software from verified publishers to be on the safe side.
5. Stay aware of phishing scams
Phishing is a dangerous strategy often used by hackers to get hands on your private data. Hackers send you different emails or even texts on mobile phones saying they are from your bank or credit card company, and you need to click on the link to be on the safe side. And if you will click on the link and provide your details, you will be a victim of cybercriminals.
This is a commonly used strategy and has different forms. Attackers can send emails, texts, or even call you to get your details. You must be aware of their malicious techniques and not share your sensitive data with anyone. Your bank, credit card firm or any other organization will never reach you like this to save your account or money.
If you ever feel something is wrong with your account, just go to your bank physically to sort out the problem. In addition to this, avoid clicking on links that promise you free money, gift cards, free internet, or anything else. These are all a kind of phishing scam, and you must keep yourself secure from them.
6. Install an Antivirus
An antivirus program keeps your laptop or pc safe from the reach of scammers. Ransomware, Trojan horse, DDoS (denial of service), and other malware attacks can be reduced using antivirus software. In addition, the antivirus program protects you from downloading malicious applications or code from the web.
If you have installed antivirus software on your computer, it will keep monitoring everything and let you know if your computer is at any risk. It ultimately blocks hackers from stealing your sensitive information or getting control over your PC. Therefore, you must use an antivirus program and keep it up to date. The software developer keeps updating the program to tackle up-to-date challenges by cybercriminals. So, an up-to-date antivirus program would be a powerful tool in protecting data against malicious attacks.
7. Use different passwords
Many people use a single password for all websites or apps. For instance, they use the same password for all social media apps and other websites to avoid remembering many passwords or forgetting them. This makes it easy for you to access all the websites but also puts your online security in hot waters.
If somehow, hackers find your password on any app or website, they can use it to access all other apps and websites you use. This includes social media apps and other websites as well, like your banking website and more. So, you will not only lose your sensitive data but money as well.
Hence, it is suggested to utilize different passwords and strong ones. Using randomly generated passwords is always a good approach because they do not contain anything related to you, making it difficult for attackers to guess the password.
8. Utilize Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication adds a security layer to your account. Nowadays, most websites or social media apps that deal with sensitive data allow you to use this feature. So, if someone has stolen your password by any means and you have set two-factor authentication on that account, your data will remain safe.
You will get a notification if someone (possibly a cybercriminal) will try to access your account from a new system. Then, you can simply report that activity and change your password to make it safe again. Usually, you can use your mobile phone number to set up two-factor authentication. Though this can be different for various sites, this strategy is very effective for securing your online data.
9. Protect your smartphones
Nowadays, almost all of us use our mobile phones to do everything online. Whether using social media apps, searching, watching videos on YouTube, playing games, shopping online, or any other thing, we prefer to do it all on our smartphones. You surely can’t stop doing that, but you can do one thing – you can protect your online privacy on your mobile phone just like your PC or laptop.
It would be best to visit the secure website and avoid downloading software from unknown publishers. In addition to this, you must use passwords on all sensitive apps, like social media apps, banking, or other financial applications. Using a VPN on your mobile device will also help you protect data against malicious attacks.
It’s quite right to say that we are becoming more and more addicted to our mobile phones and laptops. We do all our work on these devices, so it’s our responsibility to protect ourselves. You must always keep in mind the steps mentioned above to protect your online privacy, banking details, and other data from the reach of malicious actors.