Protecting your online identity is something that internet users know they should do but often neglect.
Whether it is firing off emails or logging into Twitter, we use the internet for all facets of our daily life. In today’s world, you leave a trail of digital data and leaks that can be exploited by cybercriminals and third parties that have a lot to gain.
Online banking fraud hit a peak last year in the UK, with almost £175 million lost to cybercriminal fraudsters whilst Paypal declared 45 million accounts as fraudulent on their platform recently. Paypal is one of the numerous payment methods that help people get money across e-commerce in rapid time, giving cybercriminals a vast amount of opportunities to capitalize on.
Whether it is phishing, malware, ransomware, or spyware, we have seen countless people fall victim to cybercrime as the world moves more digital. Phishing attempts can come through work emails and social media accounts, whilst dangerous viruses can infect your PC through the countless downloads and attachments that flow through the online world.
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself when you venture online:
Use Security Software
You are at huge risk if this isn’t something you are doing. There are so many widely-recognized free pieces of security software that can help protect you against cybercriminals. Having a strong anti-virus is a wise move, as this can fix any dangerous and malicious viruses that install themselves onto your PC. Before the piece of malware, ransomware or spyware can take hold, the antivirus will eliminate the threat and restore the damage to your computer.
Having a VPN is strongly becoming a recognized piece of security software that helps encrypt your internet traffic so nefarious third parties and dangerous cyber criminals cannot monitor, track or steal your online data and activity. A VPN can also hide your IP address, which can give you that added sense of security. Similar to a VPN, having a residential proxy network allows you to channel multiple devices to one proxy IP address which gives added geographical security and makes you untraceable to your spot.
Typically, your computer’s OS will have a built-in firewall, but there are options available to buy much improved physical pieces of hardware that work as an enhanced firewall for your network. This works as a buffer to your home network and PC, monitoring the internet traffic and stopping anything it notices as malicious from entering and causing damage to your devices.
Browse On Encrypted Sites
By using unencrypted websites, you can lose your online data and information to hackers and cybercriminals. Whether it is a sports blog or reading your favorite news site, your data is at the mercy of the security on that website. The same goes for when you store your data in the cloud – if they are not adequately secured, all your data is at risk. Inflation has led to people doing more and more transactions online, storing their cash in stocks and crypto as well as buying their goods from places elsewhere.
By looking at your website’s address bar and URL, you can notice immediately whether it is a safe site to be browsing on. First, look at the address bar. Can you see a padlock symbol on the far left? If not, you are on an unsafe site and should look to get off it entirely as soon as possible. If you see the ‘HTTP’ protocol on your URL if you can spot the extra ‘S’ that would indicate it is a safe site and is encrypting your data.
Lock Up Your Passwords
Generally, people have a bad password strategy which leaves them incredibly vulnerable to cybercriminals and hackers who will have a walk in the park when it comes to hacking your data and personal information.
Making your password as difficult to hack or predict is what you must do – that means no more using your pets name or street you live on, you need to assort 14 characters that mix different cases, symbols, letters, and numbers to make life as difficult as possible for the cybercriminals. Once you have different, tough, passwords for all your online accounts, you should find a good, reliable and secure password manager to store these all in so you don’t forget and have to endure that frustrating password reset. Once you have done the above, a healthy password routine feature is to change them every so often, give or take a few months, to make sure you don’t get lax.
These tips and tricks on how to protect your online identity are just a start but contain all the features of the fundamentals to staying safe online. Once you lock in some strong safety tools, make sure your online habits take you to safe websites, and strengthen your passwords through random combinations that stay fresh and stored somewhere safe, you are on your way to browsing the internet safely and securely.
There’s no end to being safe on the internet, but these can help kickstart you in protecting your online identity.