In the age we live in, cybersecurity is everything. Don’t believe me? All you have to do is Google “cybersecurity breach 2018.” You’ll see just how bad things can get when your information isn’t protected.
One prominent example I can think of is when Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal app was hacked in February last year. Over 150 million users had their personal data compromised, including home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and worst of all personal passwords. Fortunately, Under Armour had taken the time to scramble at least some of their users’ passwords, even if though they didn’t get them all. Under Armour handled the hack fairly well because they were prepared. Can you say the same?
To help you answer that question with a confident yes, here are four security measures you need to be taking, but most likely aren’t.
1. Clear Out Your Browser Cache
When you make a Google search, visit a website, enter your credit card information, or set your preferences online, there is a record of it. A combination of cookies and browsing history create a trail that can lead hackers straight to your personal info. To protect your personal info, clear your cache and cookies every so often. PC Mag created a guide you can use to clear your cache in any browser.
While you’re at it – disable the “save password” function in your Internet browser. That’s an easy way to get your info hacked.
2. Set Up a VPN on All Your Devices
Using your unique IP address, it’s possible for third parties to monitor your online activity legally. Normally, the only people looking are companies trying to sell you something and security institutions like the police or NSA doing random checks. Annoying as they may be, they don’t mean you any harm. However, less benevolent parties could also be checking to see what you’re up to. The only way to cover your tracks is with a VPN.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a private network that hides your online activity. It intercepts your outbound data and runs it through a private server, encrypts it, then sends it onto the web. It makes it much harder for anyone to determine your computer as the source of data and makes the data unreadable without decryption. In short – it protects your online information.
Is it Difficult to Install a VPN?
Setting up a VPN is incredibly easy to do. There are plenty of useful online guides that will show you how, and give you some tips to help protect your data even more.
3. Use a Different Password for Every Single Account
This one is a pain, but it’s necessary, and not enough people do it. Digital Guardian reported that only 40% of all online users have a different password for every single site they use. I get how frustrating it is to come up with different passwords and trying to remember them all, but you need to. If necessary, write them down and keep them in a secure location.
Some helpful tips to create a good password include:
- Never use personal info, like your telephone or birthdate as a password
- Use different combinations of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Try to make your password at least 12 characters long.
- Try taking a common word, and using numbers or symbols in place of the letters. It will make it easier to remember. For example, you could use the word doodle, replace the “o’s” with zeros and the “e” with a 3, and add some special characters at the end. It would look something like, “D00dl3!@#.” That’s an effective password. (But no – it’s not my real one. Nice try.)
4. Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Speaking of passwords, you shouldn’t rely on your password alone to protect your account. Many websites now offer a form of two-factor authentication to help protect your info. It requires you to enter your password per usual, plus an additional piece of info to verify your identity. Usually, this involves entering a numeric code that you get either via text, an email, or a code generator.
For any sites you have an account with offering two-factor authentication, use it. You don’t have to remember anything extra, and all it will cost you is a few more seconds to log on.