The internet brings numerous conveniences to modern life, plus possible risks. You probably shop, bank, talk to friends and maybe even work online. Doing those things creates a digital footprint of your activities and could expose much of your life to hackers. Here are seven things you can do to maintain more digital security online.
1. Maintain Backups of Data
Ransomware attacks happen when hackers lock data access and demand payment to restore a victim’s rightful access. However, even paying is often not enough to get the information back. That’s why it’s smart to keep replacement copies of vital information by backing it up in multiple ways. For example, you might store it in the cloud as well as on physical drives kept where you live or work.
Doing that does not address the issues stemming from the fact that a malicious party has your data after a ransomware attack. However, it prevents you from feeling tempted to pay the ransom out of desperation to get access restored.
When you know hackers don’t have the only version of critical data, losing it through a ransomware attack is not so devastating. Plus, the backups could allow you to keep working without major interruptions.
2. Use Best Practices When Choosing Passwords
A recent survey found that memory was people’s top way to keep track of their passwords, preferred by 59% of respondents. However, 37% of people said they forget passwords about once a month, with 5% even saying that happens daily.
A significant problem with using your memory is that you may choose passwords incorporating things you aren’t likely to forget, such as a pet’s name, your birthday or a favorite band. Unforgettable things are also often aspects people could discover about you, perhaps through a quick Google search.
Consider using passwords you choose randomly. Ensure you always use unique passwords at a site, too. Otherwise, repeated uses give hackers more potential access.
3. Consider Relying on Digital Monitoring Services
The world gives people plenty of genuine things to worry about. A 2021 study showed that identity theft was a fear shared by a significant percentage of people. About 76% of those polled worried about it, with 34% saying it was a major concern.
There’s no single measure that guarantees protection against someone stealing your identity. However, you can become more aware of suspicious occurrences by using monitoring services. Some companies offer specific identity theft monitoring services for a fee. However, other options may come free with products you already have.
For example, Capital One offers a credit monitoring service for cardholders that also checks for instances of personal data on the dark web. Your bank may also have apps that alert you to real-time uses of your debit card. Getting those prompt notifications makes it easier to take action when necessary, limiting the severity of a digital crime if it happens.
4. Recognize How Strong Digital security Influences Public Perceptions
One of the Digital security predictions made this year was that business owners would take the matter more seriously, knowing that following best practices could bring them more clients. You can look at that more broadly by realizing that cybersecurity could impact your reputation. Cyberattacks can happen to anyone, even when taking the strictest approach to staying safe.
However, when you follow Digital security best practices with personal internet usage and anything associated with work, people are impressed by your dedication to staying safe online. You can also set a good example for others to follow.
If you’re involved in Digital security for business reasons, consider how you could tell the public about the company’s commitment to data security and related aims. Posting a blog entry about the specific things your business does to prevent breaches and other unwanted Digital security events could break down the specifics for people who may not have internet security backgrounds.
5. Understand and Safeguard Against Phishing Attacks
Phishing did not become a threat for the first time in 2021, but it’s a growing concern. It happens when cybercriminals send emails that appear to come from legitimate sources but solely intend to convince people to disclose private information.
Spear phishing is also an increasing problem. It targets smaller groups but usually includes more details, making the received content appear highly realistic. Hackers sometimes use social engineering tactics to make themselves seem more trustworthy to victims, too.
A 2021 study revealed a combination of factors identified in 2020 that could elevate phishing threats for the foreseeable future. For example, eight out of 10 companies increased their use of email, while 47% of people polled reported a rise in spoofed content. Encouraging individuals to think before they respond to messages asking for personal information is a smart preventive measure.
6. Take Care When Posting on Social Media
If you use social media, your feeds probably contain details about everything from new jobs to cars you’ve bought or sold. Joseph Turow, a communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says photos can be even more revealing.
He explains, “The more photos reflect the context of a person and their relationships with others, the more that person can be denoted by their location which, in turn, allows hackers greater access to personal information.” Photographs can also give clues by linking you to others, possibly giving cybercriminals ways to get information about you from friends.
“The problem is that there are so many photos of people. There is a possibility that someone will attach a name to your photo. If you appear in a photo of friends who also have been tagged, people with malign intent can try to trace these relationships and use them to fool people into giving up information,” Turow clarified. You can stay safer by adjusting your privacy settings and limiting what friends or others can do and see.
7. Know the Potential Risks of Using Public Wi-Fi Connections
Public Wi-Fi is readily available but not necessarily secure. For example, signing up for the free service may also mean consenting to let the providers have some of your data. Some cybercriminals also create fake versions of real Wi-Fi hotspots, then snoop as people use them.
These things don’t necessarily mean you should not use public Wi-Fi in any case, but it’s wise to know what threats exist and how to stay safer when navigating them. Consider using a VPN, which will encrypt your data on public networks.
Also, think about restricting your public Wi-Fi activities to things that don’t put your private details at risk. Perhaps you could log onto the network to check cinema times or the weather forecast, but not to shop for something or check your bank account.
Proactive Measures Enhance Digital Safety
The internet brings abundant possibilities by breaking down geographic barriers and letting people tackle a tremendous assortment of activities wherever they are. However, cybercriminals often take advantage of people’s dependence on the online world. The seven tips listed above will help you avoid issues this year and beyond.