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Improving your cybersecurity when surfing the internet

Downloading an antivirus, getting a VPN, and changing passwords for your online accounts will improve your chances of not getting hacked.

worst password 2020
Image: KnowTechie

Have you ever had thoughts stray into your mind about your private information getting leaked from agencies?

It may seem far-fetched but it does happen. Government databases have gotten hacked several times. For instance, the data of 191 million US voters got compromised in 2015.

Internet services that we use are also not exempt from the numerous data breaches. Yahoo got hacked in 2013, with 3 billion accounts getting compromised. In recent years, Alibaba and LinkedIn have experienced leaked user data amounting to 1.8 billion.

Nevertheless, most of the cybersecurity leaks you’re likely to experience will come from services that you use every day.

You could switch on your PC and see your files locked by ransomware. You could log in to your internet banking app and see that your account has been cleared out.

You need to be equipped with adequate knowledge so you can prevent events like these from occurring.

Enhancing your cybersecurity levels when surfing the internet will make it increasingly difficult for you to get hacked. Listen here for more info on how to protect your finances.

Guide to Boosting your Internet Cybersecurity

tls connection security
  1. Downloading an Antivirus and Allowing Updates

An antivirus does more than ‘just’ protect your PC from viruses. It prevents ransomware, a rogue computer program by hackers to lock your computer files, from getting into your system. It stops you from installing Trojans horse programs masking as legitimate applications.

It also prevents the typical malware that links your PC to a system of bots to perform distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Most people simply download an antivirus program, activate it, and relegate it to the background. The best cybersecurity practice is to check your antivirus software at least once in three days.

Antivirus apps frequently give out directions on actions you should take to protect your PC. Following these directions will make it more difficult to hack.

Also, remember that you need to update your antivirus software frequently. You can set the program to automatically install updates.

  1. Set a Different Password for Each Account
password lock screen
Image: 1Password

Your online account could get hacked and it might not even be a fault from your end.

When a popular social media website or web service gets hacked, having an account there could compromise you. Products of big hacks like this tend to get sold for big money on the dark web.

Imagine using the same password for that hacked account across most of your other accounts. An unscrupulous organization or group of hackers can automate the process of gaining entry to other online services you use.

For instance, your internet banking service can get hacked and your social media chats could get exposed.

Setting a different password for each account you use could prove to be a complicated task. That’s why you can utilize password managers.

These handy tools not only store passwords but autofill passwords and create strong and unique passwords.

Using a password management service requires you to remember just one key password. This master password will get you access to passwords for your other online accounts.

  1. Purchase a VPN Service
online shopping with a vpn
Image: Unsplash

Have you ever searched for public Wi-Fi networks when you’re at areas like airports and coffee shops? Connecting to free Wi-Fi definitely helps you save on data costs but they come with a digital security risk.

There are several ways you could get hacked while using Wi-Fi networks. For instance, have you ever spotted two Wi-Fi networks that seemed similar but didn’t know which to choose?

Chances are a hacker tried to confuse users to connect to a bogus network to spy on their online activity.

Getting rid of public Wi-Fi is not an option for many because of its immense usefulness. You can, however, prevent getting hacked if you purchase a VPN service.

VPNs work by encrypting traffic coming into and out of your device. This way, even if you connect to a hacker’s Wi-Fi network, your information would be protected.

An added advantage of VPN networks is the IP address masking. When you connect to a VPN, your IP address gets changed to that of the VPN server.

This protects you in the sense that strangers trying to get your location using your IP address would be prevented from doing so.

  1. Always Activate Two-Factor Authentication
google two factor feature on iphone
Image: KnowTechie

Many people forgo the two-factor authentication option so they can have access to their accounts instantly. Nevertheless, it is a critical tool used for cybersecurity.

Imagine a situation where your account username and password get leaked. The hacker would be able to attempt a login but would be requested access without the details requested for multi-factor authentication.

Two-factor authentication could utilize authenticator apps, a text message with a unique code, or biometric identification.

Two-factor authentication usually gets required when a login is attempted on your account from another device.

  1. Pay For Items with your Smartphone
adding a card to apple wallet
Image: KnowTechie

Instead of using your credit or debit card for online payments, it’s safer to use your smartphone. You can do this by setting up Apple Pay or Google Pay, depending on your device. If you’re not comfortable with either choice, you can try out other smartphone payment apps.

All you’d need to get started is to take an image of the credit card you’ll be using to make payments. Once activated, you’d be able to use the device even at POS terminals.

The key cybersecurity difference between credit cards and smartphone payments is that credit cards use fixed numbers. All a hacker would need to do is get access to the credit card details and wipe out your finances.

On the other hand, smartphone payment options use one-time authentication codes, which become useless after a transaction. Hackers don’t want to steal that type of information.

  1. Setup Multiple Emails for Different Accounts

Utilizing several emails for different online accounts makes you less prone to phishing.

Phishing is a method of hacking where an email prompting you to take urgent action on your account is sent. The email will typically include a link to a fake website looking exactly like the original one.

Phishing attacks can target your social media and internet banking. The moment you place your details in the phishing website, it gets sent to the hacker who can then change your details.

Using multiple emails for different accounts will allow you to decipher phishing emails.

For instance, if the email you use for internet banking receives an email claiming that your social media account has been hacked, you’ll instantly know it’s fake.

  1. Stop Saving Passwords to Browsers

Whenever you log in to an online account, your browser automatically requests to save your password. While this may seem very convenient, it could expose your data to malware installed in your browser.

Instead of using browsers to save your passwords, stick to a password management service. These services are experts at keeping your passwords safe.

Conclusion

It is not paranoid to think that data you store on the internet might get exposed. It has happened a couple of times to big tech firms. Government agency databases are not exactly the standard for data protection either.

To protect your device or online accounts from getting hacked, you need to better your cybersecurity.

Imbibing digital security practices like downloading an antivirus, getting a VPN, and changing passwords for your online accounts will improve your chances of not getting hacked.

To reduce your susceptibility to hacks, you can also activate two-factor authentication, use different emails for accounts, get a password manager, and pay for items with your smartphone.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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