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8 Steps to Take for Improved Online Privacy and Security

According to Purplesec, the total cases of malware infections have been on the rise for many years. If you were to look at 2009 and 2018, the number increased from 12.4 million to nearly 813 million. 

The same website also reports that cybercrime is up 600% due to the ongoing pandemic. Since more people are spending time inside their houses surfing the net, it is natural that hackers have more potential targets.

Creating a proper strategy to ensure online privacy and security should be one of your priorities. Otherwise, you risk exposing sensitive information, losing data, experiencing sluggish performance on your devices, being unable to use the internet because your connection is not turning on properly or showing a weak signal, and other problems caused by cybersecurity threats.

This article will guide you through the necessary steps to take so that you can introduce extra security layers and feel safer while connected to the World Wide Web.

Get a Secure Router

Secure routers are the first step. Upgrading a router does more than just improve the connection. You can also get one that comes with certain security features, such as parental controls and SPI or NAT firewalls. 

When it comes to available manufacturers, Synology, Linksys, and Netgear are known as the go-to options for users looking to get a more secure router.

Stick to VPNs

A virtual private network that costs a couple of dollars per month offers a lot of value. One thing to note, though, is that you will see free VPNs while looking for a service to get. As a rule of thumb, do not use free virtual private networks because they are public and not as secure, which defeats the whole purpose of utilizing a VPN.

A VPN host creates a remote server and redirects an IP address through this server, making it impossible for ISPs and third-party services to see your data. The browsing data becomes nonsense, so even if someone was to access it, the information would be useless. 

In addition to secure data encryption, a VPN also works as a means to access geo-restricted content. Not only can you redirect your IP address, but you can also change it and view online contents that require you to be in a specific part of the world.

Use Reliable Antivirus Software

Use Reliable Antivirus Software

It is no secret that reliable antivirus software is often one of the cornerstones of a proper cybersecurity strategy. Having a tool that detects and takes care of potential threats is useful. 

However, there is one thing to note about antivirus software. It does its job despite being in the background, but you should still run custom disk scans to check if your computer or another device has corrupted data. 

Avoid Oversharing Personal Information

Oversharing personal information is another example of how you can expose yourself or other people. For example, you might unsuspectingly upload a picture to social media that has personal details.

If you are chatting online with strangers, be mindful of what information you tell them. They might not be what you expect and are only there to fish for information that they can use to their advantage. Sharing a birthday or your daughter’s name might come back to bite you if you are using those details for your passwords.

Ignore Shady Attachments and URLs

Emails are one of the biggest sources of encountering cybersecurity threats. Thankfully, the issue has subsided in recent years because email service providers are utilizing security features. Potentially threatening emails end up in a spam folder or do not reach recipients’ inboxes in the first place.

Nevertheless, you might still open your email inbox and find a new message that congratulates you on winning a lottery. The catch is that you need to download an attachment or click a URL and fill out your details to claim the prize.

This example might sound like a bit of a cliche, but such occurrences are more common than you expect, particularly among not so tech-savvy computer users or gullible people in general. 

Set Strong Passwords

Set Strong Passwords

A proper password policy is also a good piece of advice. These days, many people are not bothered to come up with different passwords for different profiles. In addition, passwords are often simple and easy to figure out. From “password” and “password1” to “qwertyasdf” and “123456” it is not just the lack of creativity but also negligence.

If you have multiple accounts online, the least you can do is to use different passwords. Changing passwords regularly is worth it as well as doing so introduces additional security.

In case you are struggling to remember your passwords, take advantage of the available password manager tools that securely store the details and allow access with a master password.

Install an Ad Blocker Extension

Despite the fact that there are multiple ways to monetize a website, some web owners still stick to running ads. And the worst part about this is that some online advertisements are quite aggressive in their nature and can redirect you to a malware-infected landing page if you click on it.

Considering that you can also encounter banners and pop-ups that you have to click on to continue or go back, the problem could become too much to handle.

One of the best ways to counter these potentially dangerous online advertisements is to use an ad blocker extension or install an internet browser with a built-in ad blocker. Opera, Brave, and Tor are examples of such browsers.

Keep Devices Updated

Do not associate updates just with new features and performance improvements. No, if there is a new version of an operating system or software that you use, the update might relate to cybersecurity fixes.

Developers react to new threats and push new and improved versions so that users are less prone to such threats. Not downloading and installing the latest update could leave you exposed, so whenever you see a notification telling you about a new update, do not hesitate and get it.

Mario C. Morrissey
Mario C. Morrissey
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