The internet is a free and democratic playing field. Anyone with the connection and proper devices can enter it and tap into valuable resources. Alas, this ecosystem has a darker, sinister side full of risks such as scams, hacker attacks, malware, data leaks, etc. These threats have been brought to the limelight in recent years, but trends such as the proliferation of mobile platforms and internet-connected appliances do not play into our hand. The good news is that you are not without means of combating threats to your safety and freedom. To stay out of harm’s way, you will have to take a handful of proactive measures.

Build a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Almost everything we do online can be monitored and manipulated. On the brighter note, we have the option of setting VPNs. This is of the most common tactics people use to stay on the safe side: VPNs enable you to have a secure connection outside of your home (where you hopefully have a password-protected router). Free, public Wi-Fi is fairly insecure, so you should install solutions on your devices that are designed to preserve your internet freedom. SwitchVPN is certainly one tool worth considering. It utilizes high-speed servers across the globe and does not keep any logs.

Keep everything up to date

This one seems like a no-brainer, but it is surprising how many people overlook the importance of updates. Cyber threats are getting more sophisticated, but security providers have no intention of just playing catch-up. To stay one step ahead, you should update your system as well as all programs on a regular basis. Pay special attention to your antivirus and anti-malware tools to always have the latest security patches. What is more, you security tools should be set to run regular scans, as that is the best way to repel and deal with emerging threats.

Strong passwords

A recent study of the most used passwords in the world revealed that incredibly lackluster examples still top the global list. I am talking about passwords such as “12345” and “qwerty”. These guessable strings of letters and numbers are a child’s play for hackers, so avoid them at all costs. Employ passwords that do not mean anything and contain random numbers, special characters, and letters. You can also take advantage of online generators to obtain safe and unique passwords. Just bear in mind that it is best to refrain from reusing passwords because one breach could put your whole internet presence to ruins.

Use firewall

Firewall is often the first line of defense. It is basically a barrier between your network and the rest of the online universe, which allows only a certain data to come through. Firewalls come bundled with most operating systems, although they are also one of the features included in modern security programs. Either way, they block unauthorized access and deny hackers easy points of entry. They keep all devices you use to connect to the network protected. This also includes Internet of Things (IoT) appliances that usually are not equipped with any security tools themselves.

Be careful what you click

All the aforementioned security measures work just fine, but you must not let the dangers in with careless clicking. Many threats are disguised and lure you with the help of phishing schemes and social engineering. So, never give your personal and sensitive information to anyone unless you are 100% confident it is a legitimate party. Learn to recognize and ignore click baits, spam emails, “free” offers, and other frauds and ruses. Anything that seems too good to be true or ask for too much information should prescribe caution. Finally, read the fine print when installing programs and accepting terms.

In the clear

The omnipresent internet is a staple of our everyday life. Shopping, acquiring knowledge, banking, and communicating, everything is as simple as clicking or tapping. Yet, the online realm is plagued by malware, viruses, phishing offers, and other risks. Cyber criminals and swindlers prey on unsuspecting users, but also do not shy away from large corporations and the like. Letting them have it their way can have disastrous consequences. Fortunately, there are many simple ways to limit your exposure and thwart any attempts to undermine your safety and privacy. Remember that both your online habits and security tools have a key role to play here.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.