Published On: Mon, Oct 23rd, 2017

Cyber Security: Tips on How to Protect Yourself Online

“We’re concerned that people are trading security for convenience…People are doing things on free Wi-Fi that are really alarming” – Doug Shadel

photo/Darwin Laganzon

Have you ever stopped to consider whether accessing secure websites like online banking or giving out your credit card details over an open network (free Wi-Fi) is a good idea? Or do you think that it’s safe to log in (and out) quickly to your internet banking without compromising your username and password?

This quotation by Doug Shadel, unfortunately, echoes the nonchalance with which the average individual approaches the need for secure internet habits. However, the harsh reality is that it is effortless for hackers to gain access to user details, credit card details, as well as personal information such as email addresses, social security numbers, and identity numbers.

Furthermore, statistics reported by Risk Based Security, a security information company, show that a total of 4.2 billion personal records were stolen in 2016. These records included information such as email addresses, social security numbers, passwords, and credit or charge card details.

Therefore, the question that begs is how do you access the internet safely and securely over a public network like free Wi-Fi?

Protecting yourself online

By way of answering this question, here are several pointers to help you improve your Internet security and safety:

Connect to the Internet via a VPN

In essence, a VPN or Virtual Private Network is a technology (or software application) that creates a secure tunnel between two or more endpoints such as your computer or mobile device and the Internet. Its purpose is to protect your privacy by preventing hackers or unauthorized users from gaining access to your personal information.

A VPN functions by hiding your IP address, and physical location so that third-party website cannot track your whereabouts. Also, it encrypts your data like your usernames and passwords as you enter them into online banking or eCommerce sites; thereby, preventing them from being stolen and exposed by hackers.

Use strong passwords

A password can be likened to your car key. It stands to reason that if a person with nefarious schemes gets hold of your car key, it will most likely be stolen. In the same way, if a hacker gets hold of your user login details to a site such as your online banking site, he will use them to empty your bank account.

Therefore, it’s vital to create a strong password that is difficult to work out. Ideally, it needs to contain at least 8 characters, include both upper and lowercase letters, and include numbers and special symbols. Long-tailed passwords, consisting of several words, are also considered strong passwords.

Install and update an Antivirus

An antivirus acts as the first line of defense against the spread of computer viruses, worms, and other malware. It scans your computer, email, and the websites you access to make sure that they do not contain any malicious software. Consequently, it is vital not even to consider accessing the Internet without an Antivirus program that is updated on a daily basis.

Author: Pankaj Deb

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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