Basic Knowledge about your Online Security and PrivacyCreated: February 28, 2019
This (fairly) new world that we live in is functioning almost entirely because of The Internet. Almost everyone uses it, and their online security can be easily threatened if they don’t protect themselves, at least in a basic way.
The people using the Internet come from all stages of age. Old persons and children are not quite aware of the implications of online security. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people in their 20s, 30s or 40s that still don’t know how to protect themselves online.
These are the vulnerabilities that hackers are looking for. Even the least skilled hackers can improvise something and steal your data; bank data, personal information, and others.
So here are some basic things that everyone should know when it comes to keeping safe their online security.
Of course, this is a basic thing that everyone should do in life, in general. Whenever you see something strange, stop using it.
I’m in my mid-twenties. I grew up with the Internet developing. Back in my days, those ads that we were seeing were not something good.
Other people “tested” them: clicked and immediately got a virus. Hence, I grew with a skeptical attitude towards everything that was a pop-up.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? You may be young, and you may have never known life without an ad-blocker. Disable your ad-blocker for a few days and enter a “new” world.
Being skeptical still makes me think twice before I click on anything that seems even slightly suspicious. And this is what you should do, too. Even though we now have good firewalls and great antivirus software.
Besides, be suspicious about every email, notification, call or SMS that you receive. The last two ways of communication don’t necessarily fall into the online category, but it’s worth mentioning them. I’ve seen cases when big companies announce their clients to not send their personal data to whoever pretends that works there.
This happens often, and hackers/thieves (I don’t know how to call them) send people notifications (of all kinds) that they should pay a specific amount of money, or that they need their personal data in order to process an invoice (or something similar).
Some companies announce their clients by default that they will never ask you to give the data, to pay a sum or to do anything that threatens their (online) security.
The secure certification is complicated to get. You need to have an address, a phone, and all the data regarding your company or your website. Therefore, not everyone can get it.
It is very important to have, as a website, in order to be believed by users and, most importantly, by Google.
Google now doesn’t let you enter non-secure websites that seem suspicious (luckily for us). But you can still, on your own responsibility, go there; and you don’t know what you’ll get/see.
There are hackers that copy popular websites and somehow manage to get the copies in front of users. But they won’t be able to get the SSL certification, therefore that website won’t have the “https”. Even though Google will try to stop you from entering certain websites, there are cases when the copy-websites are super-similar.
This https is extremely important for websites that require payments. There can be cases when a company has a secure website, but somehow it redirects the payments through a non-secure page. And you should stop right there.
Proceeding with a payment that’s on a non-secure page is one of the most unsafe acts that you can do. Regarding Online Security, of course.
These non-secure pages are like honey for hackers. They can immediately copy your data, and use it as they wish.
And don’t forget that these non-https can be a threat on whatever page you navigate on. Sailing online leaves an enormous trace online, and being on an https website can give you a better chance of having your data safe.
This is a thing that many learned back in the day, but there are still many who think that “it can’t happen to me”. What can’t happen to you? Having your password/s and accounts hacked? Yes, it can. I had friends that had these situations.
Of course, there are still situations like that one from this autumn (2018) when millions of Facebook account have been logged out automatically due to a breach or a suspicion of a breach. And let’s not discuss furthermore about the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, with the most recent one that involves Netflix and Spotify.
But that doesn’t mean that you should give up and let every data of your basically fly around.
As it’s the end of 2018, there are numerous studies released involving statistics of 2018. One of them, the one that’s an interest to us, is about the most common passwords used in the world. Here is the original article.
They are funny in a way. But it’s sad to know that there are millions of people in this world that think those passwords are safe enough. Or they may think that it’s an account is not important at all, therefore they’ll use a simple password.
Nowadays there are ways to keep your passwords safe and with you at all times. Even though not even this can be 100% safe. Either way, they’re a good enough solution for the moment.
The new feature of Google suggests you new, unique and strong passwords for every new account. Which is efficient because it saves you time. And all of your passwords can be saved to Chrome if you want.
This feature can be helpful in multiple situations; as an example, there are websites which require you to change your password every month, for security purposes. I don't think you'll be able to always invent new passwords; that is why Google's feature can help you and will make your work more efficient.
But what if you also need to share passwords with your co-workers, colleagues or employees? Or with your family? A great tool that has a Chrome extension, a mobile app, and a website is LastPass.
You will have your own vault, where you can add credit cards, passwords, notes, whatever you want. And in case you need to share a password account for a limited time (or maybe you just don't want the other person to see how you're thinking in terms of passwords), you can give access. This means that the other person will have the credentials, but it won't know the password.
The person will have to have a LastPass account and the LastPass extension; after which he/she can immediately access the desired account. You won't have to change your password afterward.
Having a mobile app is efficient and useful because there will be times when you will forget some credentials. You'll quickly access the app, with a fingerprint (if you want), and voila!
Also, LastPass has the ability to check your passwords and advise you if they are weak. It also finds duplicates and gives you tips on how to improve your security.
It is known that emails are one of the most unsafe ways of communication. Emails are the grandparents of modern means of communication, and it's still one of the most used ones.
Business, personal - it doesn't matter. Each time you create an account, you'll get an email. There are newsletters, notifications, news - everything.
Besides, almost every marketer votes for having a big email database, in order to reach your clients. It's also viewed as a back-up in case your Facebook Page gets closed (for whatever reasons, Facebook has done this to Pages that were totally OK).
Is there a website that doesn't require an email address for creating an account? Because I'm sure I didn't see one. If you have, feel free to let us know about it.
You see? Your email is your most used personal information. Maybe even more than your ID. So how can you level up your email security?
First of all, the password. I said before that you should use strong passwords even to you least important account.
And for the email addresses, you should definitely not use the same to all of them. It may sound easy to do, and it is, but it's extremely unsafe. Use Google's or Last Pass's passwords suggestions or come up with a way that it's easier and safer for you.
Two-Factor Authentication is a login process with two steps:
· the classic enter your email and password;
· allowing yourself to access that account with the help of code. This code can be sent through SMS, through an app, or as a notification on your smartphone.
This goes for every account that has this feature: choose the two-factor authentication. It will give "hackers" a harder time in breaking your accounts. It may give to you, too, you a hard time because the login process will be a bit longer. You'll feel this only if you constantly log out of devices, without saving the browser as a "safe place".
But this feature will surely make a difference.
"Don't talk to strangers" in a modern era. Most of us know this advice and apply it, but there are still people who think that they actually won $2000 (even though they know they didn't participate in any contest).
Links in suspicious emails are bait: they seem they will get to a website, but instead they redirect you to a "dark" place. They can steal lots of information, they can even get into your computer through a virus. Of course, using a powerful anti-virus will do the job, but there's also your smartphone. You use it all the time, exposing yourself to various threats.
Attachments are also a red alert. Most of the time, they are a file type that's not common. You will be tempted to open it, but it's exactly what you shouldn't do.
What you should do is to immediately report that email and delete it.
There are cases when even big companies might send you emails like these. Some of the emails say that "the invoice is attached". Verify if you actually have to receive an invoice or a document from that brand, or if you have any connection with it. If you don't then don't open it.
You might be tempted to read your emails on public Wifi, but everyone advises you to not do it. Think that you have lots of information there, that can be easily read by hackers.
Some of the public Wifi network appear non-secured, but the prompt you a login page, where you have to create an account. I personally hate these types of Wifis, because they force me to create an account and they can be as unsecure as the ones with no password. Who knows where your email can get to after creating that account?!
If you want to check whether your email has been involved in some breaches, here's the online tool. Because yes, there have been multiple breaches throughout the years. If you have more than one email address, be sure to check each one of them.
It's easier and convenient to use public Wi-Fis if you're traveling. Especially for those that don't have a good data plan. But try to keep away from the public and unsecured Wifi networks. They are a big threat, as they are easy to access by hackers. As I said in the Emails part, there are some that prompt you to a page where you must create an account with your email.
Of course, there will be cases when you simply wouldn’t be able to avoid the public wifi. You might have a higher level of security if you use your data plan, on your smartphone, but what if you have to use the laptop? And what if you’ll be in a country where your data plan worth nothing? I have to admit I have been in these two situations multiple times.
Not having data available made me connect to wifis that were available around me; some were non-secured. This brings me and you to the next advice regarding online security.
In order to keep your online security at all times, you can use a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network; it’s like you’ll have your own network that you can use to surf the web, but it’s virtual. And you’ll not have just one, because VPN software has access to multiple countries, changing them automatically (or you can choose to change it manually).
There is our main article that talks about the benefits of using a VPN software. But to keep to help you read all the information about online security in a single place, I will go through some of them.
Let’s take all the above points and place them under the VPN umbrella.
A VPN is not going to magically make all of your accounts secure. It’s 100% your duty and responsibility to use strong passwords. And unique ones, because having a “one to rule” password fall into the category: not secure.
You might have a secure network connection, but that doesn’t mean you should wander through the vast list of “non-https” websites. It’s still your responsibility to think before you act. Think about it like this: you can have a bodyguard, but that doesn’t mean he will be able to help you if you fall and break your hand because you deliberately stepped on that slippery floor. Nor he wouldn’t be able to fight some attackers that is stronger than him.
Your level of online security can be higher only if you’re participating in securing yourself. Being suspicious is a tremendous feature to have. Did someone send you an email asking you to give them some personal data? Ask yourself: is that a safe email? Why are they asking me for this? You have the simplest and safest option: call the original company and check if they really need that data. If they do, you can personally go to them to offer your information (if it’s possible, of course) – just to be the safety master.
Did you see an ad that sounds too good to be true? Most of the time, they offer products that are not even close to the description. So it’s better to keep yourself from clicking that ad. The best way is to go to the company’s website and check for that specific service/product that you saw. Then you can buy it straight from there.
Most browsers have the ability to warn you if you’re about to go on a non-secure website. The “ignore link” as I call is super small, exactly because the browser tries to keep you away from a stupid decision.
The other situations mentioned in this article are VPN-related. Public Wifi networks and non-secured Wifi networks are no longer a threat to your online security. The VPN is designed and created specifically to help you browse the internet in a safe way.
Most of the internet providers can see what you’re looking for online. Even if you go incognito, even if you are using the cable instead of the wireless connection.
Your laptop has an IP that is basically visible whenever your browsing online. Because browsing means requesting and receiving data. The global connections are super-fast now, but in the early days, people had to wait a long time: they clicked on a link, waited for that request to arrive at the website/provider, then waited for the provider to send back the information they asked for. It’s like ping-pong, and nowadays we are lucky that we navigate with high-speed.
Getting back to your IP. If you use a VPN, your IP and other data will be encrypted. After it “gets out” of the VPN server, the data is decrypted, but your Internet Service Provider won’t be able to trace you back. Ninja mode on!
This is a simple and short way of describing how a VPN works; for the full story, because you really need to understand it throughout, there’s a full article on our blog.
But what can we understand from the way a VPN works? We can get that whoever tries to watch your online actions, is not able to do it.
Hotel security – that wifi of the hotels you’re staying in won’t be scary anymore. Even if they use a password or not, they are still able to see your online activity; but you’ll have a VPN that will stop those possible actions.
Use those public Wifi networks – no data? Don’t worry about using the first wifi that comes to you. With a VPN you’ll be able to keep your online security at a high level.
Make payments and check your bank account through any wifi - having a VPN will help you secure your banking activity. Even if you’re using your smartphone (supposing you have a VPN app there, too).
Browse any website in the world – you may have found yourself in the situation where you stumbled upon a website that didn’t allow you to check it because it wasn’t available in your area. A VPN will allow you to check it. Which brings us to another life-changing situation
Watch movies and tv-series that are not available in your country – there are numerous providers like Netflix which offer content based on your location. Using a VPN will help you watch that video content even if it’s not available in your area.
There are numerous VPN out there. It’s all about your needs; this will help you make the final decision in choosing the best VPN.
Keep in mind that most of them are not free. There’s a big amount of work invested in creating a VPN software, hence VPN providers have to have a cash flow to make things happen, and to keep improving.
Some VPNs offer not only a desktop version but also a smartphone app. Which in our days can be that feature that gets you closer to a final decision regarding what VPN to choose.
The free versions of VPN offer limited features like:
• 200MB of data (let’s be serious, this doesn’t allow you to even open a webpage; OK, I’m exaggerating, but you know that it’s a small amount of data)
• A small number of countries (as I said, VPNs rely on using IP from other countries, and the more, the better).
These two are the most common, but each free VPN provider has additional features; or lacks additional ones.
Luckily, we are offering a VPN software that comes with the competitive price of $6.99/per month or $4.99/month paid annually.
We understand that “seeing is believing”, that is why you’re able to get your money back. In case you don’t like it there’s the 30 days money-back guarantee which gives you the possibility of letting go. But as a nice user, will you tell us what you didn’t like? Feedback of all kinds is greatly appreciated. We want to constantly improve our software. And we know that we are only able to get valuable feedback from actual users.
So what did you learn about online security? The main aspects that you should memorize are:
• Keep your eyes open: look for the “https” and double-think before clicking on that suspicious ad; don’t give your information to someone that just asks for it, randomly;
• Use a VPN if you want to be invisible to everyone that tries to watch your online activity; and if you want to (or have to) use public and non-secured Wifis (hotel, restaurants, venues etc.); a VPN will also help you watch content that isn’t available in your area.
• Don’t be paranoid but try to keep your online security level at high, as much as you can.