Being Secure Online – A Simple 1-Day Guide
We’ve heard a lot about Internet privacy and how the government is trying to keep track of all our activities. And it’s not just the government – hackers and other malicious entities can also make a quick buck off your personal details. There are various tools you can turn to in order to keep yourself and your data safe online. In the guide below, we take a look at the most useful methods that can safeguard all your browsing activities. Implementing these methods won’t take long either. Being secure online should always be your number one priority and it doesn’t even take that much effort or time.
Conceal Your Online Activity
Right from your ISP to government agencies to advertisers, about a dozen people might be checking your online tracks right now! But concealing your online activity does not need you to be a whiz. There are multiple options, such as privacy centered operating systems to simple privacy oriented browser extensions. We suggest going for browser extensions for exposure-free browsing.
- Time taken: About 4 minutes.
- Ease of process: Most privacy extensions are pretty handy. Setting them up is easy and they run in the background. So they will cause no interference.
- Security Assurance: While these extensions are handy, they are not the ultimate. If you want extra security, we recommend going for a good VPN.
While setting up a VPN manually can be a bit complicated, all major VPN companies provide their own apps that are really simple to install and use. Other ways to mask your online activity include using proxies and privacy browsers like Tor. However, when it comes to near-perfect security, nothing beats a quality VPN service provider.
Set Up the Two-Factor Authentication Protocol in Your Inbox
Your inbox is the heart of all your online work. Once a hacker gets in there, you can kiss your personal data and privacy goodbye. Most of us have our emails linked to social media and financial institutions. The sheer degree of havoc an attacker can wreak by getting access to your inbox is scary. That is why you need to get it as secure as can be. The first thing you should do is to activate the two-factor authentication protocol.
In essence, a two-factor authentication adds an extra security layer to your email accounts. Normally, you will get a text message with a one-time password to enable your account sign in. This might seem tedious, but it will go a long way in ensuring your email account does not get hacked.
Two-factor authentication is somewhat cumbersome, but there is nothing better for your account’s security. A vast majority of social media services just have one layer of security for individual devices. That means after getting the two-factor authentication, you will not need to do it for each account.
If you use Gmail (like most people do), you will need to verify yourself once a month. This hardly takes a few seconds if you have your phone with you and goes a long way in securing your account.
- Time taken: About 10-15 minutes
- Ease of process: It’s a really simple method and even a novice can do it. The system will guide you and let you know about the steps to perform.
- Security Assurance: Two-factor authentication will make sure that any hacker will need more than just your password to log into your account and steal your details, making things more secure for you.
Data Backup and File Sync
This method adds a layer of encryption to your backed up files. This means that even if a backup site is hacked, your data will not be accessible. Irrespective of the service you use as a backup, you would want your data to remain private and secure.
Encryption of files is also important. If someone gains unauthorized access to your files and they are encrypted, the hacker will not be able to read them. You can get your files encrypted rather easily. There are several file encryption tools. Dropbox facilitates normal manual encryption prior to uploading. Or you can choose some other tool of your choice, such as BitLocker or VeraCrypt.
- Time Taken: 10 to 15 minutes
- Ease of process: It’s all automatic and you can encrypt your files easily.
- Security Assurance: Encrypted files cannot be read even if a hacker breaks into your system.
Hard Drive Encryption
Windows and Mac already have a total encryption feature in them. All you have to do is activate it. You can also use third-party tools such as BitLocker.
- Time taken: About 2 minutes
- Ease of use: Apps such as BitLocker make it all very easy. Just follow their steps and your hard drive will be encrypted in no time.
- Security assurance: With your hard drive all encrypted, nobody will be able to gain unauthorized access to your system.
Encrypt your emails so that hackers or ISPs are unable to read them. Emails can be decrypted using a key. Of course, you will need to send the key to the recipient for them to access it. You can use special encrypted email systems such as ProtonMail to make sure all emails are encrypted.
- Time taken: About 5 minutes.
- Ease of use: The issue with encrypted emails is that both sender and receiver must have the same encryption software. You will also need to send them the decryption key.
- Security assurance: Email encryption is useful but not without its own armor chinks. It probably can’t stop an expert hacker or government agency. But you can stay safe from the garden variety hackers out there.
Change Password Periodically
Your passwords are your personal keys to all the private data and info you have stored online. This includes your bank accounts, social media accounts, emails, and everything in between. If a hacker gets access to any of your passwords, you are in big trouble. It’s always best to change your passwords every now and again. We also advise you to never use the same password for two different accounts. Always make sure to use strong passwords that are unique to each account. A password manager such as 1Password can help you keep track of all the various passwords you are using.
- Time taken: Up to 5 minutes.
- Ease of use: Changing your passwords should be a pretty simple and straightforward process. You can generate random strong passwords by using free online tools such as BestPasswordGenerator.
- Security assurance: Using long, random passwords that are unique to each of the accounts you use online can go a long way in securing your privacy online. The stronger the password is, the more difficult it will be to crack it.
Be Aware of Public WiFi Hotspots
Although not impossible, it is extremely difficult for hackers to compromise your security while you are staying at home. As long as you take all the necessary precautions we have listed above and use proper antivirus software, you should be OK. However, that all changes once you leave your house and decide to conduct your online business using a public WiFi hotspot. These free Internet hotspots are rarely ever safe. Never use them unless you absolutely have to. Make sure you are connected to a VPN as well. This will help you add an extra layer of privacy and security to your browsing activities.
- Time taken: About a minute.
- Ease of use: VPN applications are very easy to use. Simply launch the app, sign in, and connect to a VPN server of your choice.
- Security assurance: Hackers simply hate VPNs. Connecting to a VPN server makes it extremely difficult for cybercriminals to hack into your device, even when you are using a public WiFi hotspot.
Being Secure Online – Conclusion
As with all privacy concerns, you really have to be selective. Some measures like the two-factor authentication should be implemented by everyone. But things like data backups, email encryptions etc. are a matter of choice. Alternatively, you can choose the middle path and just back up the really important files. Safety requires you to pay the price of vigilance. In this modern world with dangers at every digital corner, staying cautious is the only choice we have.