Don’t Fall Victim to Online Threats: Here’s the Secret to Protecting Yourself Online
When was the last time you read a horror story in the newspapers about someone losing all of their data and finances online? Thankfully the reason these stories make the news is that these cases don’t happen very often.
However, protecting yourself online is important to ensure you are not one of the rare cases that wakes up one day to find their bank accounts empty or at the mercy of criminal hackers.
1. Two-Step Authentication
Two-step authentication is the new normal. It involves authenticating a login on one device on another that you own. For example, if you log in to your bank account or email on a Windows desktop you could be sent a text message on your iPhone.
The text message will contain a one-time code, sometimes known as a one-time password or OTP, that you need to enter into the device you want to login to.
The code will only be valid for a certain length of time. In some cases this could be as short a time period as five minutes, in others it could last twenty-four hours. The shorter the period the more secure the password or code is supposed to be.
There is one code for one login attempt so if for some reason you log off the site, you will have to go through the process again and enter a new code.
Many sites now offer two-step authentication as an opt-out measure. That means if you don’t want to use it you have to actively turn it off in settings. But there are a few services where it is still opt-in and you may be prompted to turn it on.
Changing Phone Numbers
If the authentication is done through text message then it is very important that you keep your phone number up to date so that you don’t get locked out of your email or bank. There is a lot of resistance to two-factor authentication for this reason but it’s important to overcome it.
If you travel a lot and change sim cards in each new country you visit then be sure to inform your bank of your travel plans so they can help you find a way around this. You can usually change your number over in the app or through a simple call to the bank
2. Consider Using a VPN
A virtual private network or VPN is a way of disguising your internet protocol (IP) address. This is the address that is unique to your machine that tells websites where you are browsing from.
These services are not just used by criminals or those living in countries that block certain websites. In fact, it is a good idea to use a VPN for your everyday web browsing.
It can keep your browsing more secure and stops websites collecting your personal location data that they could potentially sell on.
VPNs are more affordable than you think and there are many subscriptions available. Click here to see Virtual Shield cost, a VPN you might want to consider.
3. Use a Password Generator
There is a tendency to use the same passwords for all of our logins from emails to Facebook. This is natural. We don’t want to forget our passwords. The savvier among us might consider using a variation of our passwords for different logins, for instance, our pet’s name followed by a different month in the calendar.
However, a clever hacker could easily guess this pattern once they have hacked one of your accounts. Patterns of any kind are not great for passwords.
Another great way for how to protect yourself on the internet is to use a password generator. This will generate random and strong passwords that are different for each of your logins.
They will be stored on your device and can be accessed through touch ID or two-factor authentication. Crucially you do not have to remember the passwords or write them down.
4. Don’t Login in Shops and Unsecure Public Places
This is one of the most important internet safety tips. Do not log in to your email or bank account in public places such as in computer shops.
Even if you log out afterward you don’t know how secure the device or internet connection you are using is. Any number of people could come into the store and take your details. Don’t take the risk.
5. Use Encrypted Messenger Apps Like Signal and Telegram
Internet safety is also about ensuring your communications are confidential. This is crucial if you are transferring bank details or want a message to remain secret.
Be careful about which messaging app you use. Avoid using standard text messages. Contemplate using the secret message app on Facebook which deletes messages after they have been sent even for the user opening them.
But also consider apps like Signal and Telegram. Signal was famously used by Edward Snowden to communicate secretly so he could expose the mass surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA) and their British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
Protecting Yourself Online: Think Before You Click
If you’re worried about protecting yourself online then don’t panic. Do some basic research into cybersecurity from the experts. Use a VPN to disguise your IP address and consider carefully the information that you share online.
Create strong passwords and never log in to any of your accounts in public places like shops or libraries. When communicating with your friends consider alternatives to normal texting like Signal.
If you are interested in learning more about how to protect yourself online and internet safety then be sure to check out the rest of our site.