A fundamental element to our lives, using the Internet daily is inevitable. However, just as its many uses, it also poses many threats to our personal information and privacy. Here are our 10 top tips for staying safe online.
1. Use strong passwords
The most straightforward way to protect yourself from identity theft online is to use strong passwords. Even now, the most common passwords are chronological number series (“123456”) and the word “password.” Don’t use those or anything else that is easily predictable, such as your cat’s name, your birthday, or the city you live in.
The most secure password is one you can easily remember but is hard for others to guess: paraphrased sentence, abbreviated sentence, a specific phrase out of context that only means something to you. A password management application can come in handy in generating and storing your passwords. It can also help you generate unique, hard-to-guess passwords for each of your accounts. For more security, make sure to change your passwords several times per year.
2. Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an additional layer of security to your online account, currently used by many platforms. It requires you to enter other login credentials after username and password to access your account. This credential is usually a code sent via SMS or to another email, ultimately requiring access to something that only you own. Other times, you might be asked to answer a security question or verify that it’s you logging in from another already logged-in device.
If there is a 2FA, make sure to opt-in. Yes, it might take slightly longer for you to log in to your account, but it will make it much less likely for others to do the same. Google announced in May 2021 that by the end of the year, it will start automatically requiring 2FA for its user accounts by the end of the year. Facebook has also been rolling out a similar measure for its business accounts.
3. Avoid using unsecured public Wi-Fi
Although it makes everything so much easier, avoid accessing and using unsecured public Wi-Fi networks on your devices. If you need to use it, make sure to not enter important information, such as your ID number or financial information, on any website. The most effective way to protect your digital entity when not at home is to use a VPN such as Mysterium VPN to connect to the internet. A VPN will make sure to encrypt and secure your data online making it harder to tap into and steal.
4. Be smart with financial information
This brings us to our fourth tip: be careful of where you enter your financial information, such as your credit card number. When carrying out online purchases, make sure that the website’s URL starts with “https://”; the “s” at the end indicates that your connection is encrypted and is crucial. Don’t purchase from websites that do not have it. Also, we advise you to refrain from saving your financial information on websites in the event the company’s network or website is breached.
5. Know what incognito mode does (and doesn’t do)
Incognito or private mode is a feature available in almost all browsers, but its scope and purpose as a privacy feature are misrepresented. All an incognito window does is not record your browsing history and delete all stored cookies when the session is over with you closing the window. There is no added security or encryption from online threats.
6. Block ads
While your selected browser or a privacy add-on can protect you from your ISP (internet service provider) and other online advertisers from tracking your profile, you can increase your level of privacy even more by choosing to block all ads. This will not just protect you from third parties spying on your internet activity but also increase the speed of your browsing and battery life since online ads often need to load large images.
7. Beware of phishing
“Phishing” is a scamming technique that aims to obtain your personal information and steal your identity by ‘fishing’ for your credentials through a variety of different methods, such as email, instant messaging, social media, or hyperlinks. Disguising itself as a legitimate message from your email provider, bank, or social media platform, the phishing message will ask you to verify your account information or confirm suspicious logins, tricking victims into installing malware.
We advise you to never click on such links or enter account information unless you’re for certain expecting an email. Password managers and using 2FA on your accounts can protect you from such circumstances.
8. Enable Cookies on Your Web Browser Only When Required
Another way to protect your online activity from spying advertisers and internet service providers is limiting when you enable cookies for websites. Website cookies are the details websites ask permission to store on your computer, including what other websites you have visited and what you did on them.
Although most websites keep the information from cookies to themselves, it is always best to limit cookies to only be enabled for websites that require them.
9. Keep operating systems and software up to date.
A simple step for protecting your devices and information is to ensure your operating system and software are up to date. Most security software, operating systems, web browsers, and devices have the option to turn on automatic updates. In addition, companies often release security updates for added protection and fix bugs against hacking and malware.
10. Install and use a VPN for all internet activity
The internet was not built to be private and secure by default. Data protection and privacy are critical today. A VPN is the most effective and easiest way to protect your internet activity and keep your identity private online.
Mysterium VPN is a decentralized VPN. We reroute your internet activity, not through servers, but nodes offered up by our community members.
Users with unused network traffic can sell their internet to the Mysterium marketplace as a node. Mysterium VPN users can then purchase these nodes to access the internet safely, privately, and anonymously.
Traditional VPNs run on centralized infrastructure, which means one point of failure. At Mysterium, we're decentralized; there is no central control point or anywhere to store your logs. As a result, we can’t track or keep logs of your traffic, even if we wanted to.
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