Internet privacy is super important, yet it seems to be something that today’s generation overlooks or assumes is obsolete. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to fortify your privacy and protect yourself from hackers, nosy administrators, internet service providers, and government agencies.
1. Use strong passwords for your e-mail and social media accounts
The first mistake people make is using the same password for more than one online account. This is a big no-no. If one of your online accounts is hacked, then the others are soon to follow.
Using two-factor authentication can also increase your protection and ensure no one accesses your account except you. Most social media sites and email services allow you to activate this option, where not only do you have to enter your username and password, but also a code that is sent your phone number.
For added protection, use passwords with both lower and upper case characters, special symbols, and numbers. This increases the possible combinations of passwords exponentially.
2. Use protection to stay safe from spyware
Spyware is a software that is capable of installing on your computer without your knowledge, and can begin opening pop-up windows, redirect your browser to malicious sites, and monitors your browsing sessions. Here’s a few signs that indicate you have spyware on your computer:
- Your computer is slow af when opening programs or running some applications.
- Pop-up windows appear all the damn time.
- You have a weird new toolbar in your web browser.
- Your browser homepage or search engine has mysteriously changed.
- You begin to get unexpected error messages that won’t STFU.
There are a myriad of popular anti-spyware products that you can use to purge your computer of this godforsaken cancer. Malwarebytes, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware are a few. Be extra safe by avoiding suspicious links or pop-ups and be careful when downloading free applications.
3. Keep your operating system up-to-date
Online criminals often take advantage of vulnerabilities in OS and application software. Keeping your operating system up-to-date helps you keep an upper hand on these douchebags. Always keep your browser and associated plug-ins up to date.
4. Secure your browser
There are multiple ways to keep your browser secure from hackers:
- Keep your browser up-to-date on the latest security patches.
- Increase your privacy and security settings within your browser.
- Choose a private browsing session when visiting a sketchy site. This prevents your browsing details from being stored.
- Make sure a website is secure whenever money or financial operations are involved. Make sure the web address starts with “https://”. The “s” is an indicator that the site is secure and encrypted.
5. Don’t trust public and free wireless networks
Online criminals love public wifi networks because it is the easiest way to retrieve social media and email credentials as well as credit card information. The best way to increase your security is to use a private browsing session as well as a Virtual Private Network (check out our article on VPN’s)
6. Check the link before you click on it
Sometimes, internet criminals use phishing links to procure sensitive information. This links often direct to sites that appear to be credible but are actually used to steal your information. The easiest way to check if a link is legit is by hovering over it with your mouse. The address should pop up in your browser when you hover over.
7. Don’t forget to log out
This is a cardinal sin for computer labs or internet cafes, and a pretty obvious one. Private browsing sessions also prevent your information from being stored on a browser.