Online and ‘security’ are concepts that do not easily go together. The majority of internet users take only the most basic of security measures, or none at all. When so many web users are low hanging fruit, taking yourself out of harm’s way requires only a few simple measures. If you don’t want to be another easy target, here are five tips for increasing your online security.
1. Use a VPN
One of the best ways of improving your online security is to use a virtual proxy network (VPN). When you visit a site without using a VPN, your data is exposed to the wider internet. This data includes the specific address of your internet service provider (ISP). A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel to a remote server from which your session now appears to be originating, obfuscating your true location. Once the data is in the encryption tunnel, not even your own ISP can tell what sites you are visiting or what data you are accessing.
VPNs are a great way of browsing the internet anonymously, coming and going without leaving a trace, much like a ghost. Coincidentally, one of the best known and most popular options for VPNs is Cyberghost VPN, which has been providing its services since 2017. They have also dedicated servers for UK citizens. which makes it, in our opinion, one of the best VPN in the UK. Visit www.cyberghostvpn.com/en_US/uk-vpn for more info.
Besides increasing security, VPNs also allow users to access geo-blocked data and to sidestep government censorship. It is the single biggest improvement to internet user experience you can implement.
2. Password Manager
One of the biggest issues with internet security is that most people’s passwords are far too easy to guess, especially by brute force password-cracking software. If you have just one simple password and you use it for every site, you could be in trouble. Even good passwords are often compromised by data breaches and leaks by large firms who mismanage user data. This data can then be purchased online by hackers and other illegitimate actors.
The website haveibeenpwned has the full list of sites that have lost members’ private data. You can also submit your email address to find out if your own data has been compromised by any of these sites at some point.
Companies on the naughty list include Adobe which compromised the private data of 153 million users, eBay which compromised the data of 145 million users, and LinkedIn which compromised the data of 165 million users. If you’ve typed your email and password in somewhere there’s a good chance you’ve already been “pwned”. Using a password manager, other than the one that comes with your browser, is a good way of improving the strength of your passwords. It also encourages the use of independent passwords for each individual site too.
Using two factor authentication (2FA) on websites makes the login process a fraction longer, but it also boosts internet security substantially. That’s not a bad return on investment for anyone who prizes privacy. There are some services that already demand 2FA as standard, but as an individual you can choose to be ahead of the curve. When services such as Gmail offer 2FA, take it. Both Google and Microsoft offer authenticator services, so there is really no reason to avoid 2FA. Alternatively, you can choose a service such as Authenticator Plus.
4. Cleanup Cache
Most internet users don’t realize just how much personal information is held in cookies and internet cache. Saved searches, web browsing history, family details and home address can all be dumped into the cache folders of your internet browser. It therefore makes good operational security practice to delete these files on a regular basis.
5. Update Regularly
If you have robust security procedures in place, and software that helps you manage it, ensure that you always keep them up to date. New hacks and exploits are being discovered all the time and in the internet security arms race, it pays to be a step ahead.