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29 August 2023
Contrary to popular belief, staying safe online doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. Even just changing the way you surf the web can greatly reduce your risk of falling victim to a cyber attack. But if you feel like it’s high time you invested in your cybersecurity, then this is the read for you.
Here are 6 easy and cost-effective ways to help yourself stay safe when surfing the world wide web.
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One of the many advantages of VPN services is that they allow you to conceal your computer’s IP address when accessing the web. This means that any malevolent third parties won’t be able to see information like your ISP (internet service provider) or your geographical location. Concealing this information can make you a less appealing target for opportunistic hackers. These parties are more likely to move onto easier targets when hit with a wall.
The same goes for internet security software like antivirus protection. These can help you detect malware or even things like tracking cookies on your devices before they can do serious damage. Antivirus protection can also be reasonably priced, depending on whether you want a 1, 2, or 3-year package. Antivirus packages also allow users to use the software on multiple devices or even just one. So you can find an antivirus package that suits your user needs to a tee.
Sometimes staying safe online just requires a little bit of critical thinking. This means thinking twice before clicking on a link from an unknown or suspicious source. It also means being wary of providing your personal or financial details to any websites that aren’t secured. You can generally tell if a website is secure and legitimate in a few different ways. For example, if a website has an SSL (or ‘secure sockets layer’) certificate, the connection between your web browser and web page will be encrypted. An encrypted connection makes it less likely that a malicious third party will intercept any personal or financial information you input into that website.
Users should also look out for spelling mistakes in web copy or domain names to weed out scam websites. This same tactic can also be used to identify any SMS scams. For instance, you know that a text message from ‘Comonwealth Bank’ is likely a scam due to the misspelling of ‘Commonwealth.’
Finally, web users can also help protect themselves online by reading through any information before deciding to click on a link. Are the offers in your texts, emails, or digital ads too good to be true? Then it’s highly likely that they are. Using these cybersecurity practices can help protect you against scams online.
Another easy and no-cost way to help protect your devices from falling victim to hacks or malware is to update your applications as promptly as possible. Software updates usually include security patches that address vulnerabilities identified in your applications. So by updating your software and computer system on time, you can help ensure that you’re using only the most secure versions of all your applications.
Staying up to date with your computer updates should also include periodically checking your web browser extensions. These are the plugins you use daily to enhance your browsing experience. Believe it or not, your browser extensions can be as vulnerable to security breaches as your software applications. And if you’re using a web browser extension that isn’t up to date while accessing an unsecured website, it could also leave your device vulnerable. So be sure to set up automatic updates for your computer systems and all software applications installed on your devices.
Maintaining the same password for all your digital accounts is one of the easiest ways to make yourself vulnerable to cybercrimes like identity theft. This is because opportunistic hackers only need to unearth one password to access your sensitive accounts. And once a hacker has taken over your digital footprint, it’s only a matter of time until you find yourself being locked out of all the services you need.
That’s why it’s important to maintain strong and unique passwords across all your digital accounts. This means using a combination of numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and symbols instead of simple phrases. And many cybersecurity industry leaders also call for users to avoid using personal information like pet names or nicknames in their passwords.
Changing your passwords regularly is also good – especially for sensitive accounts like your banking or tax and other government accounts. Most security specialists recommend changing your account passwords every fortnight.
At this point, you may be wondering how to keep track of all your passwords if you’re expected to constantly change them. Thankfully, password managers have been developed to streamline this process for you.
These security measures are gaining in popularity as they allow device users to access all their account passwords using one master password. Once the master password has been entered, your secured password manager can then autofill the password for dozens of different digital accounts with the simple click of a button.
Password managers automate maintaining dynamic passwords for your digital accounts, allowing you to enjoy optimal security and convenience without any hassle of keeping track of your changing passwords.
Finally, there is one other highly effective and low-cost measure that you can take to help further protect your accounts online: multi-factor authentication (or ‘MFA’). Also often referred to as two-factor authentication (or ‘2FA’), multi-factor authentication involves having two or more different authentication processes when accessing an account.
An example of MFA you may be familiar with is having personal security questions, like ‘What is your mother’s maiden name?’ or ‘What was the name of your first pet?’. While these personal security questions can be valuable to have in place, they can also be unlocked by parties who know your personal information. This makes them a little easier to bypass than code-based MFA requirements.
It’s more common now for accounts to send push notifications to your mobile via text or email verification codes to your computer. That way, your identity can only be verified by accessing other personal accounts or devices.
By implementing MFA on all your accounts, you can reduce your risk of falling victim to identity theft or other cybercrimes.
All in all, maintaining a strong cybersecurity strategy doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, you can help to keep yourself safe online on a minimal budget. So long as you have strong cybersecurity practices in place, you should find that avoiding the eye of malicious parties online is just as easy as purchasing on eBay.
The entire August 30, 2023 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire August 30, 2023 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!