Personal Online Security: How to Stay Safe Online by@terieyenike
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Personal Online Security: How to Stay Safe Online

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Every individual or organization must be mindful of securing their online data. The biggest threat to your online data privacy could be large companies and governments, as they can know every page you visit online, the email you send, and every physical location you visit. Phishing is the most common attack on the internet, where hackers are ready to steal your account. The only real way to prevent monitoring and tracking is not to have your devices connected to the internet. Still, you risk your device, which could be stolen or compromised.

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Every individual or organization must be mindful of securing their online data. From restricting access to your devices with a password to debit cards when shopping on e-commerce platforms, a small percentage of internet users are malicious and have the purpose of inflicting damage on someone depending on their motive.

Everything can be monitored or tracked on the internet, like companies using cookies to send targeted ads when you visit a page, and in turn, these ads become constant on your feed.

Malicious people on the internet do three things if they successfully compromise your device:

  • Inflict financial damage

  • Steal information to use for something malicious

  • Use your compromised device for a more extensive plan.

Now, the question you might be having is:

Can we be 100 per cent sure to prevent any security hole or an information leak on the internet?

The answer to this question would be a resounding No, but we can increase it.

Sometimes hackers are the least threat to your online data and privacy. The biggest threat to your online data privacy could be large companies and governments, as they can know every page you visit online, the email you send, and every physical location you visit.

They can know, doesn’t necessarily mean that they track you. But if you fall under their radar, it won’t be an arduous task for them to track you.

Now, how do I keep safe from the internet?

The only real way to prevent monitoring and tracking is not to have your devices connected to the internet. Still, you risk your device, which could be stolen or compromised.

Ways to Increase Online Security and Privacy

Several recommendations would help you stay safe online, and some of these verifiable methods that any cybersecurity experts would encourage are:

  • Passwords
  • Antivirus
  • Phishing
  • Browsers
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Passwords

Passwords are the number one critical spot when it comes to security.

Why?

Every individual today needs a password for almost everything they do on the internet today, ranging from logging in to your social media accounts, financial transactions, e-commerce websites, and so on. Nowadays, it is encouraged as most companies have added an extra layer of security to make it harder to crack its encryption by activating 2FA authentication. You receive these codes as either email or phone messages.

Antivirus

These are software that runs on your computer, and their main intention is to protect your device from malicious programs that want to compromise it and all of its data. Antivirus is known as payloads which are delivered and executed on your machine.

Some examples of Antivirus are:

  • Bitdefender
  • Kaspersky
  • Eset
  • Malwarebytes

Phishing

These attacks are also known as social engineering attacks, and these vulnerabilities don’t have to be technical. Phishing is the most common attack on the internet, where hackers are ready to steal your account. It is an attack whereby a hacker fakes a webpage to look like the original to collect your credentials in plain text.

How can you prevent such an attack?

  • Don’t click on any link on your email provider if you aren’t sure of the sender
  • When visiting pages on the internet, make sure the domain name is correct and it is HTTPS
  • You know a criminal by how badly email is composed. So ignore such message by raising a flag for it as spam or delete it immediately
  • Suspicious attachments or links. Don’t fall for the bait.
  • Be cautious if the message you receive creates a sense of urgency

Common Ways for Compromised Account

Hackers are always looking for different ways to penetrate or gain access to your online security, which in this case, is the password.

Brute force attack The brute force attack is less common. They work if your password is weak and your account could be compromised. It is essentially a hacker running a bunch of passwords with your username, trying to get in by guessing your password.

Keylogger Here, the hacker would run the keylogger on your machine. It is also the least common way, but it does happen, especially in targeted attacks where your device is infected with the keylogger when you download malware and run it. The hacker will make the program look legit, for example, music (MP3), picture (JPEG), and video (MP4) files.

The keylogger will capture keystrokes on the keyboard, including all your usernames and password.

Ways to Mitigate Brute Force Attack

Create a strong password Most websites these days show you an indicator of the strength of a password, and it also highlights the length and number of characters required for a strong password. When setting up a new account, consider it adequately and don't take it for granted, as it will be for your good when a hacker tries to decrypt a password which would be almost impossible to crack as the password is with different characters.

An example of a weak password would be password, an eight-character long password with no variety of alphanumeric characters, which is common. In addition, an example of a strong password that is not common or has no identifiable words would be A#[email protected]. With this password, a hacker would never be able to guess right, even with almost the same number of characters as the previous one.

How can you identify a bad password:

  • Recognizable word
  • Not too many characters
  • Only lowercase letters

Character sequence makes no sense if random characters with upper and lower case letters are not present, making it harder to brute force.

Password Managers

Password managers are software applications that safely store your credentials for various online accounts. They can generate highly secure passwords, encrypt them and keep them for you in a safe place.

Types of password managers

  1. Store data in the cloud
  2. Store data on your machine like the Keychain Access on macOS

Examples of password managers:

  • Nordpass
  • 1password
  • LastPass
  • KeePass

Closing Thoughts

The world is ever-changing, and it is in your best interests to know some basic counter-protective measures to secure your online accounts and prevent bad guys. Almost every time, in your DM on social media, email, or text on your phone, you see random messages soliciting you to join a platform where a link is sent or alerts that you won x amount of money.

Remember that - shady things are easy to spot, but the greedy ones would want to take the risk and click on the links, so be cautious of everything you receive on any medium.

So, don’t be scared of these attacks, as you can prevent any misfortune by not being too quick to click any link or visiting a web page that is not authentic. Be your watchdog and spotlight everything to ensure someone out there is not stealing your data.

Teri Eyenike HackerNoon profile picture
by Teri Eyenike @terieyenike.I am a software developer focused on creating content through technical writing and documentation.
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