9 Online Security Tips For Beginners

Tip 1 Use HTTPS!

URLs that begin with ‘http’ are NEVER secure. Always use sites that begin with ‘https’. They have stronger security protocols which means that you are safe and your current session on the browser is encrypted. Without HTTPS, bad guys can intercept your session using tools like Firesheep.

Tip 2: Keep your operating system and all your software up to date

Operating systems such as Windows and Mac regularly send updates for users with software patches. Most people avoid these popup updates. This is a mistake. The recent wannacry ransomware attack proves why this is a mistake. One vulnerability caused such a massive loss for so many companies, hospitals and educational institutions. This could have been avoided by installing the Microsoft patch that would have covered the vulnerabilities that allowed wannacry to take control.

Tip 3: Use Unpredictable Answers for security questions

Security questions are quite useful. They help us recover or reset our passwords when we forget them. It’s important to set an answer that others cannot guess. Questions like ‘What is your mother’s maiden name’, are easy for hackers and bad guys to find answer to as we share so much of our private life on the internet. The bad guys can easily answer these questions and gain access to our account to use for their purposes.

So, Use answers that are irrelevant or hard to predict from reading your online profile but don’t make the answer too difficult to remember as you don’t want to forget it in case you get locked out of your account and need to regain access.

Tip 4: Don’t use the same password for all your accounts

Never use the same password for all your accounts as it leads to the possibility of one service being hacked and the hacker using this password to attack your accounts with other services. Also remember not to store passwords in your browser. It may seem convenient but hackers feel the same way. Browser attacks are very common these days.

If you have a lot of accounts and are finding it difficult to remember your passwords then you can use password manger services like LastPass. These password apps can create random, indecipherable strings of alphanumeric characters as passwords and help store them for you on your different devices. Also use 2 step verification on your accounts wherever possible.

Tip 5 Keep Your Personal Information Private

Considering how private to make the personal information you put on Facebook. Anything you make “Public” can easily be found using a search engine, so turn up your privacy unless you want those embarrassing holiday photos of you and your friends floating around Google for all to see.

This means that your privacy can be easily exploited by anyone as they can find you on the internet just by searching your name and looking at your display photo. So, make sure your privacy settings are at the right level and your profile is not too revealing.

Tip 6: Delete suspicious email attachments

Majority of people know that if you receive suspicious links or attachments from strangers, you shouldn’t open them and should delete them right away. Even strange attachments or links provided by friends should be deleted. Hackers often send dangerous malware by hacking someone’s email account and sending emails to the victim’s contact list. If you receive such a mail from a friend, you should contact them and let them know their account might have been compromised.

Tip 7: Know where you’re downloading apps from

For maximum safety, only download apps from 100% trusted sources—for example, the play store. When installing such apps, check what permissions you are giving them. For example, does a cooking app really need access to your location?

Tip 8: Be careful when accessing public WiFi

Although this has been said many times before, many people are still unaware of the dangers of public wifi. They don’t know that when they are sitting in their favorite coffee shop, browsing the internet with free Wi-Fi, they are actually at risk of having someone intercept their data.

Unprotected free Wi-Fi is a breeding ground for hackers to intercept and access personal data. Before connecting to a public wifi, first thing you should do is turn off file sharing. If you’re on public Wi-Fi, don’t sign into anything that requires a password UNLESS you’re connected to a VPN.

Tip 9 Use Antivirus and Anti-Malware

An antivirus is absolutely necessary even if you’re careful on the web. If you spend time on the shadier corners of the internet, you should consider getting a strong antivirus, like McAfee or Norton, but for most home users, Windows Defender should be fine.

In addition to antivirus, I would also advice using a service like PureVPN which could prevent viruses and malwares from creeping into your system when you are browsing the web. Just like belts using a pair of suspenders to give it a little help, applications like Purevpn can provide extra protection against malicious viruses and malwares that traditional antivirus products may not identify. Malicious programs like browser re-directors and advertisement injectors behave exactly like some legitimate network filters. They’re technically not viruses, but you definitely don’t want to see them. With this kind of a combo, you should be safe from a lot of the threats out there on the internet

Guest article written by: Taimor Hussain

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