In this guide, I will share my best tips for staying safe online.
Author: Venicia | Founder of Cyber Queen
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Cyber threats are everywhere. Whether you're a parent, writer, consultant, developer or have a type of online presence, it's important that your online safety is on point- but let me help! We'll take a look at some basics in this guide so even if everything else fails cyber crime can't keep us down.
Biometrics are the way forward.
Passwords have always been vulnerable, especially when we put too much faith into remembering them. Where possible, go passwordless. This is currently an option for Microsoft accounts, and soon many providers will follow suit. Make sure you use a strong PIN or Password for EVERY account. Biometrics (Facial recognition or fingerprint) is better because it's more difficult to hack. Your passwords should be UNIQUE for EVERY account, reusing passwords when there are password managers available at no cost - simply reckless.
My favourites include LastPass, Dashlane, 1 password and Keeper.
Use Multi-factor authentication on EVERYTHING possible.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a method that requires more than just your password to access an account. With MFA, you have either a physical token or device such as an Authenticator app on your phone, and your accounts cannot be accessed without both factors being used together in order to log in. MFA lets cyber criminals think twice before trying to get access to your accounts, because they have a really tough time trying to get in. Go enable Multi-factor authentication now and sleep better tonight.
I love the Microsoft Authenticator and Google Authenticator.
Keep your Software Updated.
Keeping your software updated is critical. Vendors provide updates to fix security risks and flaws in their systems, when you don't update your software, it can be an easier target for hackers that exploit vulnerabilities in older versions of the software. Set your phone, computer, and application settings to notify you when there is an update, or if that’s too much admin, set it to auto update, this will give you new features, and keep you safe online.
If you don’t use it, LOOSE IT!
It’s always a good idea to have your phone and computer cleaned out. Delete any unused apps from time-to-time, so you can keep them from taking up space on the device, and avoid leaving room for malware lurking around in there somewhere! A clean device makes browsing online more secure, because bad guys won't know what kind of security measures might be going off inside your brain when they try to trick you through those pesky downloads we all get sometimes…
The key here is managing your privacy by knowing exactly where every bit of information about you goes - delete anything unnecessary, and if this process helps speed up your device, even better right?
Don’t click on Links you don’t know.
If you don't know who sent the link or even if it's a known sender but didn't expect the email or text message, don’t click on it. As a general safety rule, always access content from providers directly on their website rather than clicking links in your emails, which may redirect to malware-laden websites that will compromise your device and accounts. To check whether any given site has malicious software installed – go to virustotal.com and check whether the link is safe.
If it's an important link, always verify explicitly that the link came from the correct person and that the details are correct, if it was sent via email, verify on via a different mechanism, text or phone.
Use an Antivirus Software.
No, this is not overrated. You need to have an antivirus on all of your devices because it can protect you from malware and other online risks! No matter how safe we think our computers are--there’s always a chance they'll be infected with something malicious when visiting sketchy websites or downloading questionable files from strangers online. And as many people already know: if one of those things happen, you need antimalware protection ASAP!
There are plenty, I recommend Microsoft Defender for Endpoint, Trend Micro, Norton Antivirus and Kaspersky.
Pro Tip: Use a VPN
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network, this is a security control that provides protection for your internet connection and keeps your connection private and encrypted. Using a VPN, creates an encrypted tunnel for your data, so it cannot be intercepted or sniffed while surfing the web. It hides your IP address, so you cannot be watched or traced online. So if you want to be safe online, use a VPN service. Look for a VPN service that provides Speed, Privacy and Security, Steer clear of FREE services. Free VPN service may not be as secure and reliable as paid services.
My Favorites include: NordVPN, PrivateInternet Access, Surfshark and CyberGhost VPN.
It’s not always easy to stay cyber-safe in today’s world. There are so many threats coming from a variety of angles that it can be hard to keep up with all the latest developments and know what you should do, or how to protect yourself online. That being said, there is plenty we can do as individuals.
I hope this guide has been helpful for you on your journey towards staying safe while online! What would you add? Let me know in the comments section below if reading this article was worth the time investment for you, and please feel free to share with friends who may need some help understanding their digital safety needs.