Cyber Security 101: Tips to Protect Your Data Online

Wifi, Email, and Connectivity. Once just the jargon of the thick-glassed is now common language to everyone. We now use technology everywhere and the Internet in almost everything in our lives.

 

Our smartphones are connected to social media, pretty much the communication go-to. With Wifi almost everywhere, everyone is virtually connected.

 

There are homes that can even answer from “Hello Google”. Heck, even some refrigerators are connected to the Internet to order food stocks for you. With this convenience and techie-ness, is it totally safe?

 

With the recent Facebook privacy leaks, we should be adamant more than ever. (You don’t have to delete it though. Here are 5 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Privacy Safe)

 

But do you need an IT degree to fully fight the threat? The good news is you don’t have to. These are easy tips to help protect your data online.

 

Understanding Cyber Threats

 
Understanding Cyber Threats

Image Credit: Thinkstock

 

First, we must understand the Internet. In an extreme simplification, it’s a group of computers and gadgets that communicate to each other via a network to do certain functions. Let’s say like sending an email, watching a video, or opening the lights in your living room.

 

But some people exploit this network by sending malicious programs to basically:

 
  • Damage your device

  • Control your device

  • Steal Information from your device

 

I don’t why, but some really just want to do wrong things.

 

Start By Not Opening Unscrupulous Email or Websites

 
Start By Not Opening Unscrupulous Email or Websites

Image Credit: lifehacker

 

But know for a fact that most cyber attackers rely on human error. Let us start by being wary of the items we open on the Internet.

 

Think twice before you click that “You Won a Free iPad”. Or you being the luckiest 1,252,542nd customer who happened to visit their website this very first time. I mean you didn’t sign up for anything right?

 

Some of these websites automatically download malicious programs to your computer and installs it without you knowing. These programs later corrupt some of the essential files in your computer or spy your computer usage.

 

Do Not Get Phished

 
Do Not Get Phished

Image Credit: Shutterstock

 

And speaking of signing up, did you ever get that “Please Update your Credit Card information” email from your Bank? I’m not sure with you but I always get it here in the Philippines. But I don’t even have a credit card in that bank. Weird.

 

Be vigilant. The perpetrators copied your bank’s login page. DO NOT FILL-IN YOUR INFORMATION. These are called “Phishing sites”. They trick you into believing that it is a legitimate query. It even has “https://” in its domain name.

 

Once you key in your information, those soulless demons can use your credit card anywhere.

 

It’s better to ask your bank for confirmation and report the incident. Or better yet, turn on your two-factor authentication (you have to key-in a random number sent by your bank first before the charge pushes thru) for credit card purchases.

 

Install a VPN when you’re using Public Wifi

 
Install a VPN when you're using Public Wifi

Image Credit: Shutterstock

 

Another pathway a hacker can use to steal information is thru Public Wifis. Believe it or not. If you are on the same network with the hacker, they can remotely access your computer and steal information.

 

To fight this, just install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) Service. A VPN masks your “network address” so that hackers can’t track you.  You can try Windscribe VPN. They offer free 10 GB per month of VPN protection for that occasional need to connect outside.

 

Try using a Password Manager

 

Another line of defense is password managers. Instead of saving your passwords in a notepad, you can use a password manager to store all your keys to a website.

 

Usually, they have lines of defenses also to make the hackers have a hard time cracking the code. Try LastPass. The free version is enough for the needs of normal individuals like you and me.

 

Use a Reliable Web Browser

 

Image Credit: PC Mag

 

With how good the hackers are nowadays, how can you decipher which website is real or not? Luckily, this can be prevented by using a reliable web browser.

 

Web Browsers like Google Chrome or Safari warns you if you’re about to open a threatening website. Better be partnered with someone who can protect you. *cue melodramatic music*

 

Install an Antivirus

 

You know what, what if we clicked or downloaded a nasty file?

 

We do make mistakes. This is normal. Just in case you “accidentally” downloaded a dangerous file masked as a cute puppy video, worry not.

 

Install an Antivirus to sweep these dangerous files.  Viruses and malware evolve almost daily. Gladly, there are kind humans that protect us from this threat.

 

Try downloading Avira or Avast. They have free versions and they update their threat library almost every day.

 

With a scheduled scan every week, you are sure to be safe.

 

Install a Cleaner Utility

 

If even after the anti-virus, some programs might have trace files left behind. This is where a cleaner utility comes in.

 

Try CCleaner to remove unwanted accumulated files from your system.

 

If All Else Fails: Awareness Might Be the Great Preventer

 

These are just simple steps to fight cybersecurity threats. But these can still fail. After all, there are genius hackers out in the open. But with these defenses, we can at least make it hard for them.

 

What’s most important is that we have standard awareness. You can check out this nifty game by pbs.org also for an interactive awareness of cyber threats. With awareness, it’s easier to be cautious when using the Internet.

 

Let us do our part to protect ourselves in this new world.

Leandro Eclipse

Leandro Eclipse is an entrepreneur who loves to travel. He believes in building multiple Location-Independent Sources of Income. Because if you are going to work anyway, might as well do it while exploring the world. Self-proclaimed foodie and tech geek. Follow him on IG @mikoeclipse.

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