How much time do you spend surfing the web every single day? According to Statista, people spend around 147 minutes daily on social platforms alone. You might also spend additional eight hours a day on your computer working. In either case, do you know how to surf the internet safely?
Internet safety often comes as an afterthought for many internet users, and that is the mistake that cybercriminals are waiting for you to make. In this article, we provide essential tips on how to improve security while surfing the internet. Follow these 6 easy steps, and you will learn how to take control of your security online.
1. Keep private information secure
You might have heard someone say that information is money in today’s world. Well, your private information can help cybercriminals turn a profit too.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook information security because password requirements are still generally weak, and most internet users recycle the same combinations. In fact, according to an HYPR study, 72% of people reuse their passwords. That means that if one account is breached, cyberattackers can try to brute-force their way into multiple other accounts. Unfortunately, if they succeed, they can gain access to extremely private information.
If you want to keep your passwords secure, you have an array of password managers to choose from. However, note that password security is not the only thing you need to think about. It is also crucial that you limit access to your private information. For example, if you leave your phone number, familial connections, hometown, place of work and other sensitive information on display (e.g., on Facebook), you could become an easy target for scammers.
2. Disable the saved passwords function
Let’s take a step back here and talk about another important thing relating to the passwords we set up. Once you realize the importance of creating strong, long and complicated passwords, you might start looking for shortcuts to keep yourself logged in. After all, remembering dozens of passwords that look like G6%gd3#lJt0 or nz72%3$@LnO6 is basically impossible unless you have an exceptional memory.
This is another reason to get yourself a reliable password manager. Most of them require you to remember one good password that unlocks a vault protecting all other passwords that you can choose to auto-fill whenever you need it. Well, what’s wrong with keeping your passwords saved on your phone or a browser on a computer? If someone gains unauthorized access to your device, they might have no trouble gaining access to all of your sensitive accounts, including online banking, email or work systems.
On Google Chrome, the world’s most popular web browser, you can go to Settings > Autofill > Passwords (on mobile: Settings > Passwords) and disable saved passwords.
3. Use a safe internet connection
If you are concerned with your security and privacy online, you probably have already considered proxies or VPNs. If you are not yet familiar with either one, here’s a quick rundown.
A proxy is a kind of web filter between you and the internet. When you send a request, for example, to visit a certain website, the request is handled by the proxy server that also forwards back the website. Essentially, there is no direct communication between you and the site, which, in theory, should offer enhanced privacy.
A VPN (virtual private network) creates a tunnel between you and the internet, which is what makes it similar to a proxy. However, unlike a proxy, a VPN encrypts communication using strong encryption algorithms, which ensures a high level of privacy and security. A VPN hides your IP address by redirecting the traffic through a remote server.
When comparing proxy vs. VPN, it is clear that a VPN offers more benefits, but both can offer a certain level of anonymity.
4. Update computer software regularly
Whether you are trying to learn how to surf the internet safely on a mobile device or a computer, you must not forget to keep the software up to date. Sometimes, software and security updates seem to come in at the worst times, but while it might not hurt you to postpone the update until later in the day, postponing updates for longer could result in security breaches.
Unfortunately, no operating system is 100% secure, and new vulnerabilities pop up frequently. When you are introduced to an update, the attackers are already working on a breach that could penetrate a vulnerability. Therefore, you don’t want to give cyberattackers any leeway.
Keep in mind – the quicker you install updates, the safer you are. Of course, don’t rely on vulnerability patches alone to provide you with 100% security. Other weak links exist too.
5. Employ antivirus software
It is also important what kind of software you are updating. If your operating system is not protected by a legitimate and reliable antivirus tool, patching vulnerabilities might do little to no good. At the end of the day, some vulnerabilities are discovered by cybercriminals before patches are even created and can be applied.
Therefore, if you care about your security, it is strongly recommended that you secure all of your internet-connected devices with legitimate antivirus software. Note that fake antivirus tools exist, and often they are promoted using too-good-to-be-true deals and scary scam messages. Do not fall for such tricks, and strengthen your privacy with security software you can trust.
6. Install an ad blocker
Scam messages promoting fake software, updates, security alerts and privacy notifications can appear in all shapes. You can receive them as texts, emails, direct messages on social media platforms as well as ads on unreliable or unprotected websites. If you interact with these fake messages and misleading ads, you could jeopardize your virtual security and privacy.
While it is important to use common sense to detect fake ads, it might be tiring and annoying to weed through ads whenever you are browsing the web. A legitimate ad blocker can save the day! Install a trustworthy extension or app designed to block unwanted advertisements, and you will significantly decrease the amount of potentially misleading messages coming your way.
You now know that you can employ password managers, VPNs, antivirus software, ad blockers and good old common sense to increase your own virtual security.
Hopefully, these tips have made it clearer how to surf the internet safely, and you have gained the confidence to browse the web without facing security risks.