Online security is rarely out of the news nowadays. Hacks and data theft are both common, and, as hackers continue to update their methods, this doesn't seem like a trend that's likely to go away anytime soon. Fortunately, online security isn't as daunting as it sounds, and there are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself.
#1 Beware of Attachments
Nefarious email attachments are the number one route through which hackers gain entry into your computer and network. Attachments might look harmless (or might even come from email addresses that appear official), but they can wreak untold havoc if opened. First, check email addresses and then check them again to make sure that they're from genuine contacts. Where possible, try not to send data via email attachments at all. File transfer or shared cloud storage are better options and usually come with built-in firewalls to screen for viruses. Even the best email spam filter can be leaky, so try to phase attachments out of your online life.
#2 Look for SSL and HTTPS
HTTPS and SSL are two special security protocols that function in a similar way. HTTPS is an upgrade to the standard HTML extension of old. The additional "s" stands for "secure" and adds a layer of encryption between you and the site you're communicating with. This stops hackers from stealing any sensitive data exchanged between the two. HTTPS is a prerequisite for a site to gain SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification, which creates encrypted links between you and the server you're connected to, again thwarting hackers. These are essential prerequisites for any site that handles cash or requires your credit card details. That might be an online store, a streaming site, or a platform that allows you to play real money casino games. All of these sites handle sensitive payment details, so you should keep an eye out for those security protocols.
#3 Update Passwords Regularly
It's the oldest cybersecurity tip in the world but one that's still neglected by many. You should change your password at least every 90 days, but many experts recommend doing so every 30. Equally as important is the type of password that you use. Common words or phrases are easy to crack, and you should never use personal details like a name or birthday. Instead, opt for a mix of letters, punctuation, and lower/uppercase characters. The more special characters that your password contains, the better. Most websites will rate the strength of your passwords from weak to strong, so pay attention and edit accordingly. Managed file transfers or shared cloud storage are better options and usually come with built-in firewalls to screen for viruses.
#4 Turn Privacy Settings on
As simple as this might sound, it makes a massive difference. All web browsers have a list of privacy settings that you can turn off/on at will. Enabling all the settings doesn't just protect you from popups and unwanted cookies. It helps to prevent data theft, stops hackers from interrupting your connection and safeguards your identity in the sometimes dangerous online world. Turning privacy settings on takes a matter of seconds but it’s an important step towards keeping yourself safe online.