9 Ways to Stay Secure Online

by Robert Best on October 2, 2019
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how to stay secure online

On average we spend just under 3 hours a day online. We can now bank online, shop online, manage our lives online and pretty much anything else you can think.

The increased accessibility to online services is great for use personally but it also comes with risks. The more information we put online the greater the opportunity to cybercriminals.

Now more than ever it is important to stay secure online.

We have put together 9 tips to make sure you are protecting yourself and your data when using online services.

Passwords

Every service you use online will advise you to use a unique password. For some that can mean having as many as 100 passwords. Which of course is too many different passwords to remember. That is why we end up repeating passwords.

Cybercriminals know that over 70% of us re-use passwords. Couple that with the fact that often we have to use our email address as our username, and cybercriminals now know the same login details are probably used across most of our online services.

So they harvest passwords from services that have been breached and the chances are high that those login details are being used on other services. Hence the need for unique passwords. The best way to get around having to remember multiple different passwords is to use a password manager.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Passwords alone are no longer an acceptable way of securing your online accounts. Even by following the best-recommended actions on passwords there are still ways they can be hacked.

You should use multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a safeguard against your password being compromised. MFA works by sending you a code (usually to your mobile) after you enter your password. You can only login in once you input that code.

Even if someone gains access to your password they wouldn't be able to enter the code to gain access to your account.

Privacy and Security Settings

Privacy Button with Padlock Icon on Modern Computer Keyboard

The more information an online service can gather on you, the better they can monetise you. So they are always keen to gather as much information on you as possible. But cybercriminals are also trying to gather that information.

Be aware of the amount of information you share online because it can be used by the wrong people. This is your digital privacy and you can read about how to better protect it.

Most services will give you security and privacy settings you can change to increase the level of your online security. Check the security settings for each online service you use and be mindful of what information you are posting on social media.

Using a secure connection

Intercepting online communications is still a common way of stealing money or information. This is more likely to happen when you use an insecure connection.

A prime example of an unsecured connection is public WiFi. If anyone can access the network then it is easy for cybercriminals to manipulate them. Never use free WiFi for online banking and other high-value transactions.

Also, be aware of how secure the websites you visit are. Some browsers will use a redline to denote that a site is not secure. You should never enter payment details to a website that does not use https.

Only use secure devices

It might be convenient to use any available device to connect to an online service but if that device is not secure then it will undo all your security work.

In the instances where you have no choice but to use one (an airport terminal, for example) make sure you change your password as soon as you are back on a secure device.

Use encryption

encryption

You can use online services for storing files, examples of this include OneDrive and Dropbox. If you are using an online service do you know what options they offer to encrypt your data? Encrypting your data makes it useless to anyone who can breach the security around it.

If the online service you use doesn't have options for encrypting files you can always encrypt the data yourself. That lets you encrypt something readable into something unreadable unless you have the key to unencrypt it.

Backup your data

Data backup works as your contingency plan. By keeping a copy of your data you still have it if the original is compromised or infected. Use the same level of security for your backups as you do for the original data.

Make sure you keep your data backed up regularly so it's as up to date as possible if you ever need to use it.

Delete dead accounts

Most online services give you the option to fully delete your account. If it is an account you no longer need then you should delete it because you are unlikely to keep it as secure as an account you still use.

Even though you are no longer using the account that doesn't mean that doesn't still contain data that cybercriminals would find useful. They can use that data to pretend to be you and then open up accounts on other services.

Limit credit cards

If you are spending money online then stick to cards that have a strict financial limit (such as a credit limit) or a pre-paid. If someone gains access to your payment details then they can only spend as much as the limit.

Follow these tips to stay secure online

  • Use a unique password
  • Use a password manager
  • Enable multi-factor authentication where possible
  • Set the strongest privacy and security options you feel comfortable with
  • Be careful about which Internet connections you use
  • Stick to trusted and secure devices
  • Encrypt any sensitive information you allow online
  • Fully delete any old accounts you no longer use

By following these tips you will make your data more secure online. Each tip is designed to take away opportunities from cybercriminals.

If you have any questions about how to stay secure online than please let us know in the comments section below.

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