Top 5 Internet Security Tips That Will Keep You Safe Online
While the web is an invaluable tool for connecting us to our loved ones, business associates, and the world at large, it is also a direct chain that links hackers to an endless pool of potential victims.
Let’s face it: we all know the dangers of the Internet, but we’re not exactly willing to pack up our PCs and be done with the computer age.
Fortunately with the technology that’s available today, you don’t have to.
As long as you use a little common sense and these five fundamental Internet security measures, your surfing sessions can be safer than ever.
If you haven’t yet taken these security steps, then you’d better get cracking to implement them, because every minute you spend on the web unprotected brings you closer and closer to identity theft’s doorstop.
1. Use antivirus protection
Listen, antivirus software can’t stop all the bad guys from getting in – where there’s a will, there’s a way, and if hackers try hard enough, they can get around antivirus software.
For example, there’s little you can do against zero-day viruses, and if you become the target of one of these malware hits, you may as well start digging yourself a grave.
But the good news is that most people won’t get hit by these aggressive viruses, and antivirus software will do a terrific job of protecting you against the majority of malware out there.
What’s more, antiviruses today are built with more advanced tools than in the past (like site scanning) that will further protect you and your identity.
So now you know that antiviruses can help protect you from a lot of the threats out there…but which one should you use?
Just like with any purchase, you’ll want to check out what others are saying about the target product.
Read reviews from independent security-testing labs like av-test.org. This will give you useful comparisons based on the type of user and operating system.
You can also check out PCMag’s article, UK-based PCAdvisor’s comparison, and TechRadar’s take on the best antivirus software for more info to help you make an informed decision.
Kaspersky Anti-Virus and Bitdefender are usually the most highly recommended options for a Windows OS.
Don’t just protect your Windows devices though. Androids, MacBooks, and other devices can contract malware too, so get something that will protect these operating systems as well.
2. Put up a firewall
Let’s look at it like this: Your antivirus is the security guard that scans the perimeters to find any unwanted guests.
The firewall is the guy who stands guard at the entrance of your Internet connection checking IDs to make sure everything is on the up and up.
A firewall sits between your information and the web so even if malware gets in somehow, it can’t communicate with the hacker.
Many antiviruses come with firewalls built in, but some do not.
You can get a standalone firewall like Sopho’s free to home users firewall, and there are plenty of other good ones on the market for free or purchase as well.
3. Encrypt with PGP
Emails are usually sent unencrypted, which means anyone who is tapped into your network can read everything in those messages.
Anyone with access to the recipient’s network or computer can also snag the details of your conversation.
This is bad news if you’re sending sensitive information like credit card details or personal data, so most people use encryption to scramble the contents of these emails.
This way, only someone with the right key can decode your message.
PGP, or “Pretty Good Privacy,” is the best way to send encrypted files.
The concepts are a little confusing for the average Joe (asymmetric encryption, cryptography…snore….), so we’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, PGP offers some of the strongest encryption services without any middlemen involved. (FYI, too many middlemen and things just get too complicated and too open to more vulnerabilities.)
GPG4Win is a great tool for Windows computers, and Mac users can use GPGTools. Here’s a good read if you want to know other ways to send encrypted files.
4. Get LogDog
LogDog has an app that’ll turn your smartphone into a compact surveillance station. It constantly monitors the access logs to your email and social media accounts to sniff out any shadiness going on.
Under constant watch, your accounts become a much harder target for security breaches, so hackers usually just move on to an easier mark.
If there is something fishy going on in your accounts, LogDog lets you know by sending out an alert instantly.
Then you can fix the problem (like changing your password or disconnecting unwanted users from your account) before any serious damage is done.
The service can be used across all devices and OS’s, so you’re always being protected. Here’s the Android and iOS links for you to check out.
5. Protect your email with the Inbox Detective
This last one isn’t really software, it’s more of a service, but it’s worth its weight in gold for the protection it gives you, so let’s not stand on semantics!
The Inbox Detective scans your inbox looking for any sensitive information that you might be keeping there. Things like your Social Security number, credit card information, and personal details that hackers would love to get their hands on, will flag the service.
The Inbox Detective will let you know what info it found so you can get rid of it quickly before any cybercriminals get a chance to help themselves to your identity and you end up with a Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo hacked account.
Set yourself up properly so you can surf the web safely using all of these foundational security tools.
While these steps can’t guarantee safety, living without them is like walking through a snowstorm naked. Download these tools, and put some pants on, man.