Top 10 Security and Privacy Measures You Must Take
In this ever increasing age of data and digitization security and privacy are of paramount importance. However, they often get left behind. Sometimes because of laziness, sometimes because of lack of knowledge and sometimes because of plain ignorance we don’t pay enough attention to our security and privacy, which are more important than most other things today.
What many people don’t realize is that they don’t need to become a cyber security expert to protect their digital life. It just takes a few important steps. In this article, we’re going to look at 10 such critical measures that must be taken by everyone to protect their security and privacy. Let’s get started:
1. Never Access Confidential Accounts on Public Networks
Until insanely urgent (and insanely means insanely), you should never check your banking or other confidential accounts on private networks. And if not necessary, you’ll be better off avoiding such networks altogether. Public networks often remain exposed to a wide range of security risks, thus making attractive targets for cyber criminals. From stealing your login credentials to injecting viruses in your devices, a lot of things can be done when you take part in public networks. Plus, many of them also share your data with 3rd parties, who may utilize it for their own benefits.
2. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication adds another layer of security to your accounts. It makes the login process longer by a bit, but that’s worth the hassle because it can significantly improve the security of your accounts and prevent intrusion of someone else who might’ve stolen your login credentials from somewhere. You should always protect all your important accounts with it.
3. Utilize the Power of VPNs
Virtual Private Networks or VPNs protect your privacy by passing all your traffic through an encrypted network. No one will be able to see your traffic – not your ISP even. All they’ll see is a bunch of junk. And while free VPN service providers are available, investing in a decent paid option will take your security and privacy to the next level. It’s not a spending – it’s an investment. And while it may make your internet connection slightly slower, it’s one of the best ways to protect your privacy.
4. Avoid Opening Suspicious/Unknown Emails
Not opening emails from unknown sources can protect you from 60% privacy and security related challenges. Most of the time the viruses/security threats come in the form of emails originating from unknown sources. If you don’t open any email from unknown sources, you protect yourself from all those risks.
5. Learn Identifying Phishing Emails
Besides avoiding unknown emails you should also invest some time in learning how to identify phishing emails. A phishing email is one that claims to come from an authoritative source (like a bank, a well-known company etc.) but its sender’s email address doesn’t include the official domain name of that company’s website. For example, if an email claims to have come from Google asking you to change your password but its sender’s email address has a domain name (the part of the email address after @ sign) other than “google.com”, it’s a phishing mail, no matter how authentic it looks.
5. Ensure Windows Defender and Windows Firewall Are Working
If you’re on Windows 10 (you must be), you’re already more secure than most other people online. The latest update of Windows from Microsoft is way more secure than its predecessors as it comes with a number of enhanced security features, including an inbuilt antivirus (Windows Defender) and firewall. Ensure that both of them are running, which you can do by visiting the Security and Maintenance section of Control Panel. For easy access, just type “Security” in Cortana’s search bar and it’ll show you the option on top.
6. Use Strong Passwords
This is one of the very basic advice that you see everywhere, but I decided to mention it here as well because people often don’t choose difficult passwords because of laziness. Passwords that can be guessed by others make your accounts vulnerable. If you can’t remember tricky passwords, take help of a decent password manager (I.e. Lastpass). By using password managers you’ll have to remember just one single password (which you should certainly keep very difficult to guess) and the remaining passwords will remain stored in the password manager instead, which will also fill them in login forms.
7. Choose Most Difficult Security Questions
“In which city were you born?”, “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” and “Where did you first go to school?” are insanely ridiculous for the purpose of security questions in my opinion. Many people may know their answers. And those who know may gain access to your accounts whenever they want to. So you should choose security questions whose answers are known to no one else but only you.
#8. Be Mindful of What You Share Online
People often share their whole lives online and they just don’t get a clue of how much risk they’re increasing for themselves. There’ve been many incidents when people were robbed of their valuables only because of flaunting their wealth on social media. One such highly publicized incident took place with Kim Kardashian West.
9. Keep Your Wi-Fi Protected With Strong Password
Again, a basic security measure like strong passwords but one that’s often avoided by people because of laziness. By keeping your wi-fi password easy to guess (or worse, having a public, unprotected wi-fi) you’re not only wasting your data but also inviting unnecessary security and privacy risk from others who may be connected to your network.
10. Utilize the Power of Anti-Theft Solutions
In this era of mobile devices losing a device is very common. While nobody wants that to happen with him/her, this is a fact. And once your device has reached someone else’s hands, it can provide that person a very detailed look into your life. You’ll be better off in such conditions if you can remotely wipe your device, which modern anti-theft solutions allow you to do. And in some cases, they may even allow you to track your device as soon as it’s connected to a network. One such popular anti-theft solution is Android Device Manager, which you should set up definitely on your device. For laptops, Windows 10 comes with similar features and allows you to remotely wipe or track your laptop by logging into your Microsoft account.
That’s it. Taking these 10 measures will provide you enough protection from cybercriminals. As I said above, it doesn’t require being a cyber security expert. So take them immediately to prevent others from spying on your digital life.
This guest post was written by Jay Shukla, he is an avid blogger and business enthusiast who frequently contribute on various business, security, and privacy related topics.