Every single day, the internet is becoming more and more of a hostile place. Cybercriminals, scammers, hackers, you name it; there are all sorts of dangers lurking online. Malicious programs and codes can get hidden in emails, documents, ads, links, your next infection could be around the corner and you wouldn’t know about it. Not until it’s already too late. No need to worry. I’m here to help. Just follow these 4 tips, and you should be fine.
1. Use Security Programs
This is basic stuff. It doesn’t matter how much you know about computers and malware, or how much you don’t know about them. A security configuration might always save you, why take a chance?
If you can’t afford paid security programs, at least use free ones. They are not as effective as their paid counterparts, but they are still better than nothing. The ideal configuration is using the combination of one Anti-Malware program and one Antivirus. That’s because the two of them focus on detecting different kinds of threats. Having both results in a higher level of security protection.
It’s true that we shouldn’t be using two security programs at once, but that only applies when using two Antivirus or two Anti-Malware programs at once. Having one Antivirus and one Anti-Malware should be fine. Just make sure that they won’t perform a scan at the same time as that could lead to performance drops and interference.
As for which ones to use, MalwareFox and Windows Defender is a good cheap and effective combination.
Do keep in mind, though, that a paid Antivirus program might be needed to replace Windows Defender depending on your situation.
2. Use your Head
Security programs are at best a second layer of protection. The first one is always you, the user.
That’s because security programs are there to protect you from your mistakes. The more mistakes that you make, the more likely that your security software will miss something and that you’ll get infected.
One common security practice which doesn’t involve security programs is to stay away from suspicious looking links, ads, emails, etc.
Other than that, as mentioned above, use your head. Don’t just do anything that a stranger tells you, don’t blindly open email attachments, don’t install non-legitimate freeware, etc.
In overall, think before you act. Hackers and cybercriminals have developed very sophisticated methods for stealing information such as social engineering. If you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing, you might end up giving all of your personal information to cybercriminals without them even having to ask for it.
A common social engineering method is creating a fake copy of a website like Facebook. You open the fake website thinking that you’re on Facebook, you insert your login credentials, you type enter and bam, now the cybercriminals have your login information.
3. Use a VPN
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s useful for boosting your privacy as it encrypts all of the incoming and outcoming traffic. By using a VPN, you’re making it several times harder and nearly impossible for anyone to spy on you by normal means. Believe it or not, that includes your ISP and maybe even the government.
Not only that, but it also gives you a different IP address which makes it look like you’re browsing the web from another location. Great for anonymity. You can pick from a variety of different locations. The availability will depend on your VPN provider and the plan which you have chosen. Speaking of VPN providers, do make sure that you pick a reliable provider which you can trust. That’s because when you use a VPN, you entrust all of your information from your ISP to your VPN provider. I imagine that you wouldn’t want anyone selling that information.
A non-security advantage of VPN programs is that they unlock region locked websites. For example, if Netflix is not available in your country, then you might be able to get access to it with a VPN.
4. Use Long and Complicated Passwords
Last but not least, use strong passwords and don’t keep one password for all of your accounts.
That’s because if a hacker manages to crack one of your passwords, then he will automatically get access to all of your accounts. In fact, that’s the first thing that hackers check after figuring out one password.
A strong password contains at least 12-14 characters, a combination of uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers, and symbols.
Other than that, don’t use passwords that can easily get guessed like your birth date, your pet’s name, or anything like that. Speaking of which, a strong password like the one mentioned above will also make it harder to get cracked by things like brute force attacks.