5 New Year’s online security resolutions you’ll want to keep
2017 sure was HOT: passwords were leaking, malware attacks (WannaCry ransomware, NotPetya) were spreading and causing panic, data was breached (Equifax), privacy rules were overturned by Congress, net neutrality rules were repealed. Even a long-trusted Wi-Fi security protocol used by millions was discovered to be unsecure and easily hackable.
Yep, we have to face it. Technology is exciting, it enhances our lives, but sometimes it can let us down. And even if you can’t prevent all cyber threats, there are things you can do to make your digital life safer. Safer digital life means avoiding hacks and personal data loss, which leads to less stress. Less stress – more health. Kind of like a promise to exercise regularly, right? We’re quite sure you have that on your resolution list.
If you often think that you should take some action to secure your digital life, make it happen in 2018. Let us help you with that: here are top 5 online security resolutions you will actually want to keep:
#1: Secure your passwords
Passwords keep your online accounts with your personal data locked – that’s why you should treat them with kindness. Naturally, when it comes to thinking of a new password, simplicity is hard to resist. Use your pet’s name combined with your birth date as a password and set it for multiple accounts – nothing can be more luring to hackers. Don’t do that.
Creating strong, unique passwords is a must. You may find yourself having dozens of online accounts: email, banking, social networks, more email, e-shops – you name it. And that makes a great pile of passwords.
The good thing is, no memory games are needed here – password managing tools are true life-savers and protectors of your sensitive data. Get a trustworthy password manager, such as LastPass, and handle your passwords like a boss. These tools generate unique, lengthy passwords and store them under a master password – the only one you actually need to remember.
#2: Use two-factor authentication
Passwords are good, passwords are great, passwords are necessary. However, the digital world has come to the point where they are no longer enough to fully protect your online accounts from unwanted snoopers.
Smartly managing your passwords is the first step, which should be followed by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever it’s possible. Many of popular online services offer this security option: Google, Apple, Dropbox, Amazon, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, just to name a few.
Two-factor authentication adds an extra security layer to your account, meaning that hackers won’t be able to get in even if they sniff your carefully created password. To access an account protected with 2FA, you will be asked to enter your password as usual, and, additionally, a code that is sent to your mobile phone via a text message.
Text-based 2FA is better than nothing, but since it was revealed to be hackable, consider using an alternative authentication method instead, such as Google’s Authenticator app.
#3: Keep your software and apps updated
People often tend to postpone software update prompts, but this is actually the behavior you should want to end in 2018. The thing is, updates contain software security patches, which are released to protect your system from malicious threats. So if you skip updates, your data becomes vulnerable.
Remember the WannaCry ransomware? The malicious software spread through email and affected more than 200,000 computers, including crucial systems in hospitals, by locking their data and asking for ransom. The case of WannaCry can be called the best teaching case.
The thing is, the WannaCry cyberattack could have been avoided, as a patch for the security flaw the ransomware was exploiting had already been released by Microsoft. It means only the machines that didn’t get the Windows update were at risk of being infected. WannaCry sure was devastating, but it also shows how important it is to install updates with no delay. Lesson’s learned!
#4: Make use of a virtual private network (VPN)
Following the Congress vote to overturn the online privacy rules, Internet service providers (ISPs) are allowed to collect data about browsing history of their users and sell it to advertisers. As a result, virtual private network (VPN) has become a must-have for everyone who cares about privacy.
VPN works as a secure and private gateway to the Internet. It hides your real IP address when you connect to a VPN server, so no one, not even your ISP, can see what websites you’re visiting. This way, you can browse safely and without a worry of your data being sold to the highest bidder.
Virtual private networks also encrypt your Internet traffic, so your personal data is protected from hackers and unwanted snoopers. Using VPN is not a rocket science, as most of the apps are designed to be intuitive. No matter how tech-savvy you are, you shouldn’t be scared of the wordy name ‘virtual private network’. So get yourself a VPN for 2018 to be the year of secure and private browsing. Just keep in mind to choose a provider that both offers an easy-to-use app and has a strict no-logs policy, as NordVPN.
#5: Stay safe on public Wi-Fi networks
How many times have you connected to a public Wi-Fi to get some work done or simply enjoy a break with social media and a cup of coffee? Probably, a lot. But did you know that public hotspots are extremely vulnerable to hacking?
That’s right, cybercriminals see public Wi-Fi networks as goldmines to get personal data stolen. They have their own methods, such as Wi-Fi sniffing, to intercept your Internet connection and collect your sensitive information: passwords, banking details, addresses, phone numbers and so on.
You should always be aware of the risks when joining a public hotspot. To stay on the safe side and avoid the nightmare of identity theft, you have two options: not connect to public Wi-Fi at all (doesn’t sound exciting, right?) or use a VPN app to join a Wi-Fi network risk-free. Connecting to a virtual private network gives you secure Internet access no hackers can intercept, so you enjoy private Internet browsing and your coffee with peace of mind.