Guide on How to Protect Yourself Online in 2021
Be vigilant and wary of opening questionable files and links
Always ensure that you are careful of opening strange attachments sent to you via e-mail, especially if the file extension is either unknown to you, or otherwise if it is sent to you in a compressed format, (Example WinZip Files) and that you take extra care in protecting yourself as much as possible by minimizing any risk where possible. When I browse the Internet, I myself use and recommend Opera. Opera comes with an built in Adware Blocker, Malware Blocker, Cryptocurrency mining Protection and unrelated even its own battery saver allowing you to have an extra layer of protection and browse the Internet faster while being less likely to accidentally infect your PC or Laptop. This would limit any possibility of accidentally clicking on a rouge malicious link which could ultimately pose risk to your device by infecting your laptop or desktop with malware or even if you are unlucky ransomware instead. It furthermore protects your privacy further by also blocking all the trackers and thus is the Safer Choice for a Web Browser.
Always play it safe by creating extra Strong and Unique Passwords
In 2021, a person could easily have numerous different accounts and therefore tons of different passwords. The Majority of people end up using the same weak passwords on various different websites and user accounts, of which some of the passwords are either easy to guess but some other passwords are easily cracked by a hacker running dictionary based brute force attacks using any of the many cracking programs which could be found in a Operating System like Kali Linux. So, consider mixing things up a bit. Creating a very strong password is easier than one would think. If you would like an example of how easy it is then here’s one for you… If you have a pet (a cat) called Tinkerbell, the you might just as well create your password to be something in line with the following: Il0veUt!nk3rB3ll, and as long as you are able to memorize whichever pattern you might end up using, this password would be a lot more secure in comparison to your mobile number or a normal average password. To make it even more secure you could simply end up adding an extra one or two symbols or your choice and add Tinkerbells birthday at the end.
Yes, it’s really that easy to create a really strong memorable password that shouldn’t be that hard to crack.
Enable two-factor authentication on all the platforms that supports it
Another important method of protecting yourself from becoming a victim of a hacker is to ensure that have added and enabled two-factor authentication (2FA) on your most crucially important online accounts. This would then add an extra layer of security to those accounts on top of having to enter your normal password.
Different Platforms call Two-factor Authentication different names.
The different types include, SMS Verification, App-Generated Codes (Microsoft Authenticator), Physical Authentication Keys (Physical USB Keys), App-Based Authentication, and of course Email-Based Authentication which is very popular. If you don’t have two-factor authentication enabled, consider spending a few minutes getting it enabled to keep your account as secure as possible.
Keep your antivirus and security or firewall software up to date
Cyber Criminals are constantly working and discovering different vulnerabilities (weaknesses) which they then use for malicious purposes. For you to keep your system as clean and as secure as possible it is important that you keep your software, apps, operating system as well as your antivirus up date.
Keeping your antivirus up to date would also minimize the likeliness of becoming a victim of a virus or malware attack because antivirus updates usually includes definition database updates, which informs your antivirus of all the latest threats as soon as they are picked up, ensuring your system is as safe as possible.
Scan all downloaded (executable file) programs before installing it
Before installing potentially harmful software, it is much safer to simply upload the installation file to Virus Total. Virus Total uses over 70 different antivirus scanners and and URL/domain blacklisting services which allows you to check URL’s before you visit a specific website and for you to Upload any installation files which has been downloaded on less reputable websites. It’s free for non-commercial use.
Use a VPN to Keep your internet browsing private and protected
If you are a private person and you would like to keep your internet browsing as secure as possibly, you might want to consider making use of a VON. A VPN would allow you to safely browse the internet unmonitored from your service provider or government by encrypting the data between you and your destination. It furthermore also protects you from hackers as you are browsing the internet and your connection would go through a VPN server, instead of it going through your normal ISP. There are a few decent paid VPN options, as well as one or two free options. If you would prefer using a free VPN, make use of the Opera’s free built in VPN which you can enable and disable whenever needed directly from the browser which would make your browsing experience more secure in comparison to not using a VPN to stay anonymous.
Disable your Web Cam and Microphones when not being used
Another method to stay secure is to disable your laptop’s built-in webcam and microphone whenever you are not using it. It is especially advised for people who doesn’t use it very often or don’t use it at all. To disable your built in Web cam and microphone is really easy, simply find and right click on This PC (which use to be My Computer) and click on Properties. Click on Device Manager which is located in the column on the left-hand side, Find and click on the drop-down icon of ‘Audio inputs and Outputs’ and right click on your built-in microphone. Click on Disable device and say yes to the pop up that’s asks whether you are sure you want to disable it. Now click on the Imaging devices drop down tab, and disable your integrated webcam the same way. After you have disabled it, it would become impossible for someone else to use your webcam and microphone to spy on you while you might be completely unaware of the fact that someone else out there might be watching you.
Perform Regular System Backups to an external Drive or to the Cloud.
It becomes more and more important to ensure that your data stays safely backup up and one way of doing that is to regularly back up the most important data, you cannot bear thinking of losing. One of the reasons you might want a backup, especially if you let someone else also use your computer or laptop is the thought of all your files being encrypted by a brand-new string of ransomware, which might have even encrypted your files using 256-bit online encryption. In the event that something like that happens its always reassuring to have a recent backup on an external drive which is not permanently kept in the device which you are using for you to have some type of fallback point instead of possibly losing all your valuable data, documents and pictures. Consider making backups at least once or twice a month if you would want a contingency plan for worst case scenarios. There are a plenty of reliable free and paid backup software one could use of if you are not a big fan of Windows Backup or Apples Time Machine. Backups become more and more important.
Always keep your Account-related Recovery Codes in a very safe place.
Always make sure you keep your recovery codes in a safe place if you have turned on Two Step Authentication or when an Authentication code might not be able to be sent to your mobile device due to any unfortunate reason (for example if your phone was stolen) or if you have lost your mobile phone which you you receive authentication codes on. Alternatively use an Authenticator App like Microsoft Authenticator and ensure that you won’t be able to lose access to your Microsoft account as you would if your phone has been lost still have the ability to download and sync the list of apps which you might need authentication codes for until you have recovered your mobile device.
Article Written By Herman Bartie