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How to improve your online security: Tips for safe surfing

How to improve your online security: Tips for safe surfing

For many, the internet is an important part of their everyday lives. They use it for shopping, banking, and keeping in touch with loved ones and friends. A lot of people, however, are not aware of the many cyberthreats that can steal sensitive information or corrupt their data. In this article, we will discuss how to improve your online security to ensure your safety while browsing the internet.

Explore the Security Tools You Install

Many excellent apps and settings help protect your devices and your identity, but they're only valuable if you know how to use them properly. To get the maximum protective power from these tools, you must understand their features and settings. For example, your smartphone almost certainly includes an option to find it if lost, and you may have even turned it on. But did you actively try it out, so you'll know how to use it if needed?

Most antivirus tools have the power to fend off Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs), troublesome apps that aren't exactly malware but don't do anything beneficial. But not all of them enable PUA detection by default. Check the detection settings and make sure yours are configured to block these annoyances. Likewise, your security suite may have components that aren't active until you turn them on. When you install a new security product, flip through all the pages of the main window, and at least take a glance at the settings. If it offers an initial onboarding tour, don’t skip it—rather, go through the tour methodically, paying attention to all the features.

Antivirus tools usually include some form of browsing protection, typically in the form of a browser extension. If you accidentally try to visit a dangerous page or a phishing fraud, they divert the browser to a safe warning page. Many of them mark up search results so you don't even click on a dangerous link. This won't won't protect you though, if you don't have the browser extension installed and working. Check each browser you use to make sure it's protected.

To be extra sure your antivirus is configured and working correctly, you can turn to the security features check (Opens in a new window) page on the website of the AMTSO (Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization). If your antivirus doesn't pass, it's time to contact tech support and find out why.

Use Unique Passwords for Every Login

One of the easiest ways hackers steal information is by getting a batch of username and password combinations from one source and trying those same combinations elsewhere. For example, let's say hackers got your username and password by hacking an email provider. They might try to log into banking sites or major online stores using the same username and password combination. The single best way to prevent one data breach from having a domino effect is to use a strong, unique password for every single online account you have.

Creating a unique and strong password for every account is not a job for a human. That is why you use the random password generator built into your password manager. Several very good password managers are free, and it takes little time to start using one. For-pay password managers generally offer more features, however.

When you use a password manager, the only password you need to remember is the master password that locks the password manager itself. When unlocked, the password manager logs you into your online accounts automatically. That not only helps keep you safer but also increases your efficiency and productivity. You no longer spend time typing your logins or dealing with the time-consuming frustration of resetting a forgotten password.

One more thing to consider. If you get "impacted" by a self-driving car tomorrow, how will your heirs gain to access your accounts? The most advanced password managers let you identify a password heir, someone who will receive access to your account after you depart.

Use a VPN

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a software or service that protects your online activities. It encrypts your data and hides your IP address to prevent hackers, your internet service provider, and other third parties from monitoring your online activities and accessing your data.

If you frequently access public Wi-Fi hotspots, you should always use a VPN to ensure your security and privacy.

Enable multifactor authentication

Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a type of access control that requires a user to supply several forms of verification to gain access to an application or online account. This includes what a user knows, like a username or password; what a user has, like a one-time code from an authenticator; and what a user is, such as a fingerprint.

MFA adds another layer of defense, making it harder for cybercriminals to infiltrate your device or network. Even if your password is compromised, the intruder will not be able to access the associated account without providing the other required factors.

Use Different Email Addresses for Different Kinds of Accounts

People who are both highly organized and methodical about their security often use different email addresses for different purposes, to keep the online identities associated with them separate. If a phishing email claiming to be from your bank comes to the account you use only for social media, you know it's fake.

Consider maintaining one email address dedicated to signing up for apps that you want to try, but which might have questionable security, or which might spam you with promotional messages. After you've vetted a service or app, sign up using one of your permanent email accounts. If the dedicated account starts to get spam, close it, and create a new one. This is a do-it-yourself version of the masked emails you get from Abine Blur and other disposable email account services.

Many sites equate your email address with your username, but some let you select your own username. Consider using a different username every time—hey, your password manager remembers it! Now anyone trying to get into your account must guess both the username and the password.

Install antivirus software

Antivirus software can detect and remove viruses and other harmful applications from your computer and mobile devices. Many antivirus software programs today also come with a firewall that monitors all traffic going in and out of your device. A firewall identifies and prevents suspicious data, such as phishing emails, from reaching your computer and mobile devices.

Contact Beringer Today!

Interested in ensuring the safety and security of your company's online activities?  . Reach out to Beringer Technology Group today. We can help evaluate your current cybersecurity posture with our Cyber Security Risk Assessment Solution, and implement the right security solutions for your organization.

Beringer Technology Group, a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and CRM for Distribution also provides expert Managed IT ServicesBackup and Disaster RecoveryCloud Based Computing, Email Security Implementation and Training,  Unified Communication Solutions, and Cybersecurity Risk Assessment.