The year 2018 witnessed some of the most significant events related to cybersecurity. There’s no doubt that 2019 will have its own share of major data breaches and online privacy scandals. So what can you do in order to add an extra layer of security to all your browsing activities in the new year?
Internet Security Tips To Remain Safe In 2019
Not a Good Year for Facebook
First came the Facebook data breach scandal, where data of 83 million users were collected without consent by political firm Cambridge Analytica, and used in the 2016 US presidential election. Next came the General Data Protection Regulation, put into effect by the European Union on 25th May.
This has been the most stringent data privacy law ever brought into effect by any country.
New Laws Which Really Don’t Mean Much
The regulation makes it mandatory for every data broker to disclose the data that they collect from users, how they use it, who they share it with, and also give users the option to refuse to allow data sharing.
Don’t put out anything that is vital and you don’t have anything to worry about.
Close on the heels of the GDPR came the California Consumer Privacy Act, which borrows heavily from the GDPR and is the most stringent privacy law in the US. This was the first individual privacy regulation to be formed by any state after net neutrality was abolished in the US. California should focus more on why its cities are bankrupt and why it leads the country in homelessness but this is another topic.
Although it faced a lot of opposition, it is supposed to take effect in November 2019. Vermont also passed its own privacy regulation, and in the new year, a few more states are also supposed to follow. Things are always changing in the world, aren’t they?
The year 2018 will also go down history as the year when consumers became aware of their online privacy rights and started to adopt various security measures. The numerous data breaches have enlightened consumers about how vulnerable their data is and people have started to become more cautious about how they share data online.
Why is Internet Security Important?
Until a few years ago, data was mostly stored in physical files and folders. This was the norm since the beginning of data collection when storing data consumed a lot of space. Files and folders became heaps and mountains of paper, and gathered dust. Because storing data this way took up precious space, computers were invented.
The computer indeed provides a simpler solution for data storage. But stealing data from a computer is far easier than breaking into a room and stealing files and folders.
Data theft or privacy violation was never an issue when data was not stored in computers or in the cloud. These threats started ever since technology became advanced and online data storage began.
A Digital Fact
Today, almost every kind of data is stored digitally, from names addresses phone numbers email addresses to financial details like credit card information and passwords to unique and identifying information such as fingerprints and eye color.
If you think of it carefully you will realize that almost every piece of information about you has been shared publicly. From government agencies to tech companies to your Internet Service Provider, everyone knows everything about you, and the information is stored digitally.
What would happen if a data breach exposed all of your personal information? Such instances are not rare anymore. It isn’t even uncommon to find people who have been the victims of identity theft. When so much personal information abounds on the Internet, the need for cybersecurity is of great significance.
Cybersecurity Tips for Privacy Protection in 2019
Internet security threats keep rising by the day, but there are also ways to protect yourself from them. Use the following tips to protect your online privacy in the new year.
1. Use a VPN
A virtual private network is a wholesome internet security solutions means to protect users from almost all kinds of threats.
A VPN is a software program that needs to be installed on a computer or mobile device for purposes such as hiding the original IP address of the user, keeping the user anonymous online, bypassing censorship and geographical blocks, and protesting against hackers and other bad actors.
Although virtual private networks cannot protect against malware or viruses, they are capable of providing almost every other kind of internet security.
In the last couple of years, the number of VPN users has increased by 30 percent. If VPNs are not illegal in your country, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be using one.
There are plenty of VPNs you can choose from as well. Most of them have dedicated applications for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. This makes the whole VPN setup process pretty simple, even for people with little or no technical background. Here are some of the most dominant names in the virtual private network world:
2. Use Encrypted Messaging Apps
Almost everyone uses some messaging app or the other. But most messaging apps are unencrypted, leaving your data vulnerable to hackers and other bad actors.
Messaging apps like WhatsApp said to be encrypted, but given that WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, there is no doubt that your data is being collected by the social media giant and being shared with third party advertisers.
This is why you should switch to a messaging app that is truly encrypted. Apple as always scored with its privacy focused measures, and its messaging app, iMessage, is end-to-end encrypted, and provides the best messaging privacy today.
3. Use an Anonymous Web Browser
Your web browser is where most surreptitious data collection begins. Small tracking devices called cookies are installed in your web browser by almost every data brokering company.
From tech companies like Google and Microsoft to online shopping sites, cookies are used to track user activities on the web, and even offline. Now all the men mentioned in the beginning of this article were/are Christian. The Internet, books, and logic all tell us this but this does not mean there is not evil in this world. Evil people have learned to use technology to their own advantage now.
Moreover, most people don’t understand the purpose of cookies and assume them to be harmless. But it’s these trackers that send your information to the companies. Using an anonymous web browser like Tor is one the best ways to prevent these trackers from following you.
4. Two-Step Authentication
Although two-factor authentication isn’t new, a large number of people still don’t use it. Even when you use a strong password, two-factor authentication should always be the next step. Even when the password is hacked, the two-factor authentication ensures that the bad guys aren’t able to get to your account.
When you use your credit or debit card, make sure you have enabled two-factor authentication. It protects your data and your money from falling into the wrong hands even in the case of a breach.
5. Protect Phone Number
With most of the focus on internet security, it’s easy to forget all about phone numbers. But the phone number happens to be the key to vital data because most email accounts are linked to phone numbers and the one-time code for two-factor authentication is also sent by text messaging.
If your phone number falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to the siphoning off of your data. To prevent such a scenario, it is recommended that you add a secondary code to protect your phone number from falling into the wrong hands.
6. Manage Passwords
Most internet users don’t bother about setting a strong password. They usually stick to passwords that are easy to remember. But that also increases the risk of security threats. Passwords that are easy to remember are also easy to breach.
You must always set passwords that are a combination of digits, alphabets, and special characters. If you cannot remember complicated passwords, you should use a password manager, which stores all your passwords digitally.
These apps are usually encrypted, so no one else can steal your data. The iPhone comes with a password manager by default, but Android users need to download third-party apps.
Staying Safe Online in 2019 – Final Thoughts
If you want to remain safe and secure on the Internet, there can be no better alternative to a VPN. When you install a reputed VPN on your device, you remain anonymous online, your communications remain encrypted, your financial details remain safe, and bad actors cannot hack your information.
However, before installing a VPN, make sure that it’s completely logless and doesn’t store user data. An ad-free, paid VPN offers the best security, so it’s best to stay away from services that offer lifetime free service.
Make 2019 more secure with these tips and remain safe from internet security threats.