The internet is ripe with malware, phishing scams, and other malicious things. How do you keep yourself safe while browsing? There are several rules you should follow and tips we have provided in order to keep yourself safe on the web.
Basic Internet Browsing Safety
Certain sites are more prone to have spyware such as adult sites, file sharing sites, and social networking sites. Use these internet safety tips for avoiding spyware:
- Avoid questionable websites
- Download only from sites you trust.
- Evaluate freeware and file-sharing before downloading.
- Type in company URL to address bar, do not click on links in email, or social media.
- Don’t click through popups.
- Don’t use autofill for your passwords.
Strengthen your computer’s defenses:
- Make sure you have a firewall
- Use an antivirus protection
- Get an antispyware software protection.
- Update your programs to ensure they have the latest patches and protection.
A firewall will act as a gateway to traffic in and out of your computer and act as a defense system to attacks. Antispyware and Antivirus protection stand guard and if a threat is detected, quarantine the item and ask for your approval to remove the potentially damaging offender. As new threats in the world are detected, they are added to the list, thus it is important that you update your products.
Now that you have the basics down, here are some advanced things you can do to protect yourself online.
Choose a better browser
NSS, an independent testing lab, found that major browsers do offer protection against some malware and phishing, but some are better at it than others. In their testing they found malicious content blocked by:
- Microsoft’s Edge browser – 99%
- Google Chrome browser – 85.9%
- Mozilla Firefox browser – 78.3%
Choose better security settings
Customize your browser’s security settings for more protection. Turning off “autofill” prevents passwords from being stored and data from being ready to be mined by anyone hacking into your system.
One that we can agree on is “block pop up windows” to prevent ads from popping up. There are a rare few times where you will experience a problem with a legitimate pop up from a site when you click on something you want, but in the long run, it’s worth it to have those annoying ads gone.
Also “Do not track” if you have this option is another thing you can have turned off. It is a marketing way to follow your browsing habits.
Choose better passwords
You can use a password manager to help you remember all of your passwords. They can help you even create passwords that are long and difficult to hack. Something like F)8e(23&Dnw&!4dnw4fu_@3 might be impossible to remember but it will be also hard to crack. A password manager will work for you across all platforms like your laptop and mobile phone.
If you are going old school and relying on memory, here are some dos and don’ts:
- Do make your password a combination of capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols.
- Don’t make your password a personal data like your dog’s name or your date of birth.
- Do not use characters that are close together on the keyboard.
- Don’t use something easily guessable.
- Do change your passwords every few months or more if it is sensitive data like a bank account, or if you feel it’s been compromised.
- Don’t write them down for others to find.
- Do not keep a log of them on your computer for a hacker to find
- Don’t use the same password for every account, once it is known someone could compromise everything you have.
Choose a VPN to hide yourself
A VPN is a virtual private network that will encrypt your data coming to and from your device. Securing your connection and encrypting your data is especially important when using unsecured networks like public WiFi (like in a hotel, airport, restaurant). Hackers can snoop, intercept, and hack your data.
Another useful feature of a VPN is that they can change your geo-location to anywhere in the world. It can mask your IP address and connect you to another server in another country, thus, unlocking content for that country.
There are both paid and free VPN services. The free VPN services often leak your location, have inferior encryption, have slow connection speeds, limited servers, and log your activities online. Basically, you are better off if you are looking for security to use a paid VPN.
Three Great VPNs for South Africa
VyprVPN – Located in Switzerland. Has 700 servers across 70 countries, can choose between 3 and 5 connections, uses OpenVPN protocol, Aes-256 encryption, great speeds, user-friendly and easy to install. Note: they keep your sessions for 30 days “to deal with billion issues and troubleshooting” and they have no anonymous payment options.
NordVPN – Located in Panama. Has a no log policy, allows 6 simultaneous connections, uses OpenVPN protocol and others, double encryption, offers ad-blocker, has 1100 servers in 63 countries, compatible with most devices, has the kill switch, customer support via live chat.
IPVanish – Located in the US. Has fast speed, zero log policy, strong encryption, torrenting allowed.
Note: If you’re still struggling with finding the best VPN for South Africa. You can get the opinion of privacy experts from vpnAlert.com on how to find the best one.
There are many ways to keep yourself safe on the internet. Some of them are simple and free to implement and others may cost you a monthly fee. Choose strong passwords, don’t click on emails that look strange, or download from sites that you don’t trust.
For those like a VPN, do your research and make sure you get the features that you would like the best.