Quick Steps to Improving Your Online Security and Privacy

From overly intrusive data collection by companies to Massive data breaches affecting those same companies, the Internet has become a scary place to be. Securing your information online and keeping your data private has become much more difficult today than ever before.

This is made even worse by the fact that new trends in technology such as Internet of Things and Digital Economy have turned so much of our lives digital. Each website we visit today tracks our every move, and that’s not even counting hackers who are trying to steal as much data as they can. Yet all is not lost and there are several things you can do to improve your online security almost immediately.

What Are the Main Threats?

Malware is software that can affect your device and compromise your security and privacy. The name is a general term that includes many types including viruses, trojans, worms, spyware and more. Depending on the type of Malware, it can do a range of things, from collecting your private information and sending it to a third party or even disable your applications or operating system.

Software Vulnerabilities affect you more than you know. Almost all applications have weaknesses of one kind or other and as they are discovered, the software developer will send out updates to fix them. Hackers often look for software that has known vulnerabilities and seek to exploit those which are not updated.

Phishing is the term used when hackers send emails to you posing as legitimate businesses or other sources. They then attempt to make you click on a link and enter information on a site controlled by them in order to steal your information. An example of this would be a fraudulent email sent by a hacker posing as your bank.

Are Kids Safe Online?

While the Internet presents a massive resource for child education, online access does come with significant risks. These include inappropriate content, online predators, cyberbullies and as well as false or misleading information. Children are innocent and while they can be taught to use apps and programs, it is often more difficult to teach them to identify predatory behaviour.

Thankfully, there are other tools which can help parents improve child safety with digital technologies.  Take for instance the Kaspersky Safe Kids mobile app that allows parents to locate their children at all times. The app has other uses and can even notify parents if their child is in unfamiliar territory.

As an example, Lida Erasmus of South Africa used the app to locate her teenage daughter whom had gone missing after leaving home with a young man. She was then able to pick up her daughter and bring her home safely. These and other tools may seem excessive, but children do need to be kept safe from the darker aspects on the Internet.

5 Quick Online Security and Privacy Improvements

1. Get a Password Manager

I’m sure you’ve heard all the horror stories of people’s account getting hacked because of lousy password management or weak passwords, so consider getting a password manager like LastPass. These applications help you safely and securely store passwords for each site you need them for – all you must do is remember one good, master password.

Most people choose easy to remember passwords simply because they have so many to remember. With a password manager, your passwords for each site can be as long or complex as necessary with minimal strain on your memory.

2. Check Your Social Media Privacy Settings

Social Media companies like Facebook are forever updating their services and sometimes, this results in new features or settings coming up while you might not realise it. Go through your privacy settings on your social media accounts and make sure that you share as little as possible with people whom you do not know.

For example, on Facebook you can choose to only allow your Friends to see your profile and opt not to have your Facebook account listed on search engines. Yu can also tweak settings for other social media apps such as Twitter.

3. Ensure All Your Programs are Updated

Whether on your PC, laptop or smart device, everything runs on an operating system and on that, your run applications. Each of those need to be kept up to date as much as possible. Many program updates are often meant to patch security-related issues. Hackers tend to scan for loopholes in programs which are left unpatched in order to gain entry to those systems.

4. Watch Where you Browse

When surfing the net, we often just click on links without being aware of some fine details such as the address of that link. In fact, this is the classic situation that phishing emails try to exploit, asking you to click on to a website that might seem legitimate, but is fake site mean to try and capture your username and password for the real service.

For example, if you get an email from your bank asking you to follow a link, make sure the address is the usual one that your bank uses. If possible, don’t follow the links in emails and if you need to do something, type the address you know directly into the address bar of your browser.

Also, whenever possible, try to avoid websites that do not use SSL certificates. While various browsers may depict this differently, look out for a green lock icon next to the websites address to know that the website is secure.

5. Use a VPN Service

Our privacy online today is not only being violated by hackers, but even many governments are spying on their own people. While it may take decades of collective action to get out of this situation, you can secure your privacy simply by using a VPN service.

VPNs establish a secure connection from your device to their servers, encrypting all data that passes to and from your device. This not only shields anything you do from prying eyes but can also serve to mask your identity for better privacy.

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Improving Security on Your Android Device

Mobile devices are so prevalent and powerful today that many people are using them for mainstream activities such as web browsing and mobile banking. Here are a few quick tips on how you can safeguard your privacy on your Android device;

1. WiFi is great for fast browsing and Bluetooth helps you pair lots of external devices such as a headset, but these both drain battery and allow apps to know where your device is. If you aren’t using them, disable your WiFi and Bluetooth signals.

2. Android Beam and NFC helps if you’re using features such as Android Pay, but we recommend turning it off when not in use, since it leaves your device open to unwanted downloads including Malware.

3. Many businesses try to leverage on location-based services, and your location is transmitted by your mobile device. When not in use, turn off your location data in your device settings. Google for example loves to know everything you do and maximises its advertising potential based on that!

Protect Your Data Now!

According to a Kaspersky Lab report, online shopping is now one of the top online activities in the world. Unfortunately, shopping involves money – which is what hackers are often keeping an eye out for. 32 percent of people who shop online have had their financial credentials fall into the wrong hands for various reasons – don’t become one of them.

Take your online security and privacy seriously and make sure you put the effort into securing your online presence today.