You’re unintentionally dropping a tiny bit of data behind whenever you use the internet. It may be the innocent selfie you shared on social media, the password you used to open your email, or the account information you used on a shopping platform.
Without knowing it, you’re equipping cybercriminals with dangerous weapons against you. This is why the rate of cybercrimes is rising every day. Once the hackers intercept users’ data, they use it to commit all sorts of crimes.
So, if you’re using the internet, the first thing is to keep your information private. By doing that, you can protect yourself against cyberattacks. If cybercriminals can’t access your personal details, there’s no way they’ll compromise your privacy or even steal from you.
In this article, we’ll be sharing 10 tips to leave a threat-free digital life.
Use strong passwords
Every platform you use online usually requires a private key, which no one else should identify except you. This is usually your first chance to protect your data, thereby creating strong and unbreakable passwords. But if you throw some characters together as your password without any form of complexity, you’ve compromised your privacy.
PrivacySavvy, a digital security and privacy resource center, analyzed more than 20 million passwords and found that the most hackable passwords also happen to be the most widely used ones. The easy-to-guess ones like 123456 and 123456789.
Therefore, when creating passwords, make sure that they’re long at least 12 characters and comprise of different characters, numbers, and symbols. Also, don’t ever use one password across multiple platforms because you don’t want to memorize 20 or 30 passwords.
For instance, don’t use the same password on Facebook, Whatsapp, or on other platforms you use. Once a hacker decodes your password on one of the platforms or services, you’re finished.
Instead, use a quality password manager to simplify your life. The app can even create strong and secure passwords and input them for you across different platforms.
Tighten your Privacy Settings on social media
One of the online platforms where we share an enormous amount of data is on social media. It’s so bad that some people even post their numbers, addresses, daily schedule, job offers, pay packages, etc. Most people don’t have any reservations when it comes to information sharing on social media.
So, if you don’t want cybercriminals to use what you share against you, take care of it. Go to your privacy setting on social media platforms and choose what should be visible or not on your profile. You have this option on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.
Don’t allow complete strangers and malicious internet users to learn everything about you. What if you become a target of doxing because someone thinks you’re showing off?
Protect your phone number and email address
Thank goodness! It’s possible to have more than one email address or phone number. So instead of sharing the most important ones online, create a new email for your digital life. Also, be selective of the platforms where you’ll add your phone number. If it’s possible, buy and register a separate sim card to use online only.
Almost every online store or other internet services may require your email address and sometimes your phone number for verification. You can’t avoid those ones, but what about people you don’t know on social media? Do you really want strangers to call or send spam emails laced with malicious codes to hack your device?
Protect these personal details and, if possible, create sets to limit unnecessary exposure to cybercriminals.
Protect yourself against web tracking
One of the annoying things that happen online is tracking. The websites you visit track you, the government tracks you and even Google itself does it. So, how can one avoid all these tracking predators online? You need tracking-evading tools to hide your activities online.
Some people usually suggest that browsing in incognito mode can help you to remain anonymous to web trackers. But we can say how effective it is in shielding your online activities from prying eyes. So, to be safe, search for Kaspersky tools that provide private browsing features to evade tracking. If they can’t track your online activities, you won’t get targeted ads or malware.
Mind where you store your private information
Google Drive, IDrive, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc., are all file-sharing services. Even though they offer file storage functionalities, we don’t recommend using them for your private information.
If you must store any form of sensitive files on these platforms, archive and encrypt the files before uploading them. That way, only you will know the password to the archive when you need to extract information.
Mind the permissions you grant to extensions and apps.
Using browser extensions and mobile apps are what we call “Necessary evil” because you can’t avoid them. Almost every service has an extension and an app you must add or install for more efficiency. But when it comes to granting permissions to these guys, you must be careful.
Some apps will ask for access to your contacts, files, camera, geolocation, microphone, messages, etc. Sometimes, these requests are scary because you’re giving permissions to a third-party to explore your messages and even your contact.
The next time those requests pop up, please read them carefully and analyze the relevance of such requests to the service. Unless it’s indispensable, don’t grant permissions to all the requests. Also, don’t add extensions you don’t need. If you can do without it, ignore it.
Malicious third-parties can spy on you and compromise your privacy through the permission you grant to their apps and extensions unknowingly.
Avoid messaging apps without end-to-end encryption.
Do you know that Facebook Messenger doesn’t have end-to-end encryption by default? That’s to let you know that a hacker can intercept your message and use it for malicious activities. So, you need to depend on messaging apps with end-to-end encryption like Signal, especially if you must share sensitive information with another person.
What we have mostly in modern apps is “encryption in transit” only. Providers of these services decrypt your messages and store them on their servers. Hackers can compromise such servers and still collect your messages. But when the encryption is from your end to the receiver’s end without decryption somewhere, even the service providers won’t have any details of your conversations.
Don’t allow lock screen notifications
Many people put passwords on their phones but mistakenly allow notifications to pop up on the screen. That’s not a good move at all. If you don’t disable such notifications, anyone can still collect sensitive information about you. A passerby can easily read a message on the locked screen because they won’t need to open your phone to see it.
So, the best thing is to disable the notifications. That way, your sensitive information remains hidden away on your phone.
Lock your computer and phones
Many people don’t remember to lock their computers and phones with passcodes or passwords. These devices are the places where you leave more of your sensitive information and shouldn’t be left for anyone to access. You can use a unique pin to secure your mobile devices. If you can, make it up to 6 digits instead of using screen-lock patterns or a 4-digit password.
Some people usually opt for biometric authentication, like using your face or fingerprint to unlock your phone. While they all seem secure, they may not be adequate. We highly recommend creating unique passwords for your devices.
Use a VPN
One of the safest measures against internet exploitations is a virtual private network. A VPN is your best friend when it comes to protecting your digital life. Such services hide you away from prying eyes and confuse spies of your identity.
With a VPN, you can even surf the web through public Wi-Fi. The only reason we warn people against public Wi-Fi networks is that they’re susceptible to hacks and exploits. If you share sensitive details such as credit card numbers, passwords, login details on unencrypted networks, you’re giving yourself up for cyberattack. But with a VPN, your data will be useless to cybercriminals even when they intercept it.
When we talk of VPNs, we’re focusing on strong networks that have servers in many countries. These top VPN service providers use industry-standard encryption protocols to ensure the privacy of users. So, even if you’re using public Wi-Fi, your data and identity will be invisible to malicious third-parties.
If you don’t want to be a victim of cyberattacks or bullying, protect your data on the internet. There’re many ways we contribute to the success of online criminals. When you share every piece of information about your life online, someone can even dox you for no reason.
That’s why you must do everything possible to remain anonymous and private online. Share only the necessary data and pick the platforms where you must share them. Make sure that your passwords or passcodes are strong, long, and unbreakable. If you can’t memorize them all, use the best password manager to simplify the processes.
Whether we want it or not, online marketers are always interested in your online activities. So, they can pay anything to get a record of your online activities. So, if you don’t want unnecessary ads, find a tool that can help you evade tracking. Finally, protect your emails to avoid malware infestation.