The new year brings along new challenges. And if history can teach us anything, we know that cybersecurity-wise – this will be an even more challenging year. Yes, this means we’ll likely see more cyberattacks happening throughout the world.
Instead of entering the “panic mode,” you can actually do something about it. At the very least, you can protect your own data by following the 10 suggestions outlined in this article. It’s nothing spectacular and hard to accomplish, but well worth the effort. Here’s what we’ve got…
1. HTTPS everywhere
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) used for secure communication over the internet. HTTPS is encrypted using Transport Layer Security (TLS) or, formerly, its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). The protocol is therefore also often referred to as HTTP over TLS or HTTP over SSL.
If a website uses HTTPS, that means the data between your browser and the website’s server is encrypted. Virtually all reputable companies use HTTPS (VPNreports.com included) and there is no good reason to accept non-secure HTTP connections. Except if you’re using a VPN, which will make every connection secure.
2. Use more secure messaging apps
WhatsApp and Skype are cool and widely popular. Also, they tend to be secure, but they are not the top dogs in this game (of secure messaging). For higher security communication, we suggest switching to apps such as Signal and Telegram. Both apps offer clients for all the popular platforms — including Windows, macOS, Android and iOS — allowing you to keep that (secure) channel open even when you’re not at home or at your office.
Sure, you will have to do some persuading of your friends and co-workers to make the switch, but we think it’s a time well spent.
3. Switch to a privacy-oriented browser
If you’re using Chrome, Google knows a lot about you. And I mean – a lot. Heck, Google knows a lot about you (all of us really) even when we’re not using their web browser. Cause their tracking codes (Google Analytics) are placed all over the web.
Instead, you can opt for Firefox or Chromium-based Brave, the last of which even works with Chrome’s extensions. This can come in quite handy considering that many users can’t imagine using a browser without being able to tweak them left and right, and so far they got used to Chrome’s extensions.
4. Use a password manager
A good password manager will let you pick (generate) strong passwords on the spot. It will also securely store those passwords so you can quickly get them when needed.
There are many options to choose from, including LastPass (which I use), 1Password and even NordVPN’s recently launched NordPass. You can hardly go wrong by picking any one of these — the important thing is to use different passwords on different websites while making sure they are impossible to break.
5. Use multi-factor authentication
A good password may not be enough in some instances. For your most secure accounts like your email and online banking service, you’re best off using multi-factor authentication. In most cases, that’s two-factor authentication (2FA) which includes your password and another layer of security in the form of an SMS code or a dedicated authenticator app.
With multi-factor authentication enabled, you make sure that even if someone has managed to get ahold of your password, he or she cannot access your key accounts.
6. Avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots
Most of us have a ton of mobile data available on our phones these days, so when you’re out and about – rather than using public Wi-Fi hotspots, connect to your phone instead. If you happen to have a 4G phone — and most of us do — chances are you will also get a faster connection.
In some instances, however, that is not possible and you may be forced to connect to a public Wi-Fi hotspot. If that happens, make sure you start a VPN app that will make all communication between your device and the rest of the internet secure. This way a VPN can prevent so-called “man in the middle” attacks.
7. Delete accounts you no longer use
This is what we would consider good digital hygiene. If you’re no longer using some service and know that you won’t be using it anytime soon, make sure to delete that account. There is no good reason to keep your information on another server. It’s your data and you have all the right to delete it if you no longer find the service useful (or interesting).
Snapchat and Facebook instantly come to mind, but there are also many other smaller services people seldom use after a week or so.
8. Watch out what you click on
This is particularly important with email. Are you sure you know the sender and what he/she wants from you? Make sure to read every email carefully and only then decide whether the link included in the message is “worth clicking on.” Remember that most phishing attacks start with an email. The common-sense advice is that if something sounds too good to be true — it’s not true.
The situation used to be even more complicated with attachments but these days antivirus software is well versed in checking it before allowing you to see what has been included with the message.
9. Keep your devices up to date
Make sure all of your devices are up to date at all times. Those updates are released for a reason with newer software fixing out the security holes left in earlier versions.
In other words, when you’re using an old piece of software, you make it easier for hackers to get into your computer and potentially cause havoc. Don’t make life easier for them cause they’re going for your data.
10. Get a VPN
Last but not the least — if you still haven’t, now’s the time to get a VPN and install it on all your devices. In addition to your phone, tablet and computer — you can also install a VPN on your router so that other devices that may not have a dedicated app also benefit from a secure connection. This would include things like smart TVs, gaming consoles and streaming boxes.
A good VPN supports multiple simultaneous connections, meaning that a single license can cover all of your devices. Start by checking our page with Best of the Best VPNs and take it from there. As we usually say, you can thank us later. 😉