New Year Resolutions: Cybersecurity Edition
As we approach the New Year 2023, it is time to change some deep-rooted browsing habits. Many entities wait in the wings to gain access to data so they can bombard users with targeted advertising.
What’s more worrying is that cybercriminals are on the prowl to pounce on all our sensitive data so they can wreak havoc on our online presence. Thus, there are many risks within our digital lifestyles. So, let’s make 2023 the year to improve our habits and defend against common threats.
General cybersecurity tips to follow
First, let’s see some critical tips that you can employ without assistance from external tools.
- Do not click on random links you find online. Before clicking on a link, hover over it to see its intended destination.
- Do not download software from random websites, as they might include unwanted components. In other cases, you might download something completely different than you intended.
- Avoid opening emails or messages from sources you do not recognize. While opening a message or email likely won’t cause damage, never interact with their content without checking its reliability.
- Use more privacy-focused software overall. Consider alternatives for some of the applications you use daily.
- Reject tracking cookies when visiting websites. Take the time to read cookie notifications and only agree to essential cookies.
Check the Installed Security Tools
We can protect our devices and online identity using useful apps and changing our settings. However, they are effective only when we know how to get them to work correctly. We must understand what features and settings the tools have to ensure maximum protection.
For instance, smartphones have a feature that allows them to be tracked when lost. However, have we ever tried it out so we can know how it’s to be used should the need arise?
Again, almost every antivirus tool can fend off Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs)—apps that aren’t malware, but they only cause trouble without doing anything to benefit us. You should know PUA detection doesn’t get enabled by default. You’ve got to activate it from the detection settings to keep yourself shielded from the menace of PUAs.
Similarly, when you’ve installed a new security product, check all the pages the main window has and the settings. Ensure you’ve turned on all the inactive components in your security suite. There are also options for configuring Microsoft Defender to adjust its operation.
Get Your Computer Protected
Your medical records, tax documents, and bank account details might be stored on your computer. Yes, your computer likely holds every secret of yours. You risk all of this sensitive information ending up in the wrong hands should you lose it or get stolen.
Fear not, for you can protect yourself by encrypting your computer. Yes, it might seem like a complicated process, but some tools get things going for you. Install apps that encrypt your messages so third parties can’t read them. For the data that’s stored in your computers or phones, you’ll need to encrypt your hard drives.
When you encrypt your hard drive, you make it functionally unreadable for anyone without the decryption key. The password you use to log into your computer is what encrypts it. Data that you delete can be retrieved with a fair amount of ease. However, when you encrypt your data, it becomes private, appearing only as a jumbled mess to those you don’t want to share it with. Encrypting your computer, though a fundamental thing to do, comes with many benefits.
De-activate ‘Save Password’ on Browsers
Your browser already knows a lot about you. One bit of information that it may know is all the passwords you use. Most browsers come with a built-in password management feature. Instead of relying on your browser, use password managers made by experts to handle all the passwords you use. These offer a good deal of protection as well.
Installing a password manager implies that all your passwords are imported from your browser’s storage. While storing your passwords, the password manager ensures that you’re shielded from any malicious attempts to steal them. Moreover, password managers also provide the convenience of using all your passwords on multiple browsers and devices.
Install a Virtual Private Network
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is helpful whenever you go online, especially when you connect to the internet through public Wi-Fi. When you use such Wi-Fi, you make yourself vulnerable to nefarious elements gaining access to your data. A VPN for Windows protects you as it encrypts your internet traffic and connects you to the internet through a remote server.
Moreover, you keep your IP address hidden when you connect to the internet through a VPN server. It ensures that your location remains hidden when you’re surfing the net. Hence, it also stops various IP-based tracking.
With cybercrime rising daily, we should do all within our means to protect ourselves. The techniques we shared with you have stood the test of time and are very effective. It’s incredible how these common methods can significantly boost your online security and privacy. Usher in 2023 by adopting our practical tips to make yourself safer on the internet.