Personal on-line security is obviously needed, and I’m sure you’ve been meaning to clean up some things up for awhile. On a daily basis spamming, phishing, man-in-the-middle attacks, and ransom ware pose serious threats. Passwords continue to leak in rather large corporate breaches, and people own more and more devices that can be compromised. Do you sometimes feel like you’re tightrope walking without a net?
The overwhelming challenge of protecting yourself is only apparent, and is not reason to give up on security. It’s true that adding more internet security does require some work. Note the operational term here is “some”. It’s a relative word. So do it!
The first step is to check off the really simple tasks that only take a few minutes, noted in a prior blog post. Once you’ve got that baseline set, read on for the slightly more time-consuming tasks. Do one, do all … Do it for yourself, then generate some positive personal karma and do it for your relatives or a friend, too.
Set Up a Password Manager
The nice thing about setting up a password manager is that once you put in the time to get it up and running it will genuinely make your life easier beyond just improving your security. You won’t have to go through password resets all the time, risk being locked out of accounts after too many failed entry attempts, or need to stretch your brain with complicated password mnemonics. Everything will just be there behind one long and strong master password. Once you get going it easily becomes part of the daily routine, and you’ll eventually you’ll wake up one morning and realize that you’ve had your password manager for years. Promise!
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
This measure, which usually requires you to enter temporary codes sent to or generated on your phone along with your regular password, helps protect you from attack if your passwords fail. Not all services have two-factor authentication, and many that do call it by similar but confusing names. Setting it up for important accounts, though, provides another defense layer.
This is such an obviously great idea that the point will not be belabored here. Whether you’re storing backups locally on a hard drive or in the cloud, you can add an additional layer of protection by encrypting your data and password protecting it before doing the backup. With this in place your data has increased defense even if your cloud provider is hacked or your external hard drive is lost/stolen.
Know How to Use a VPN
Once you are connected to the internet, VPNs create an encrypted connection between your device and a secure server. With this connection in place you can browse and use the internet, protected from eavesdropping. All you need to do to use the VPN day to day is log in through a “VPN client,” an application or web portal. If you’re doing something sensitive or browsing on unprotected public Wi-Fi, like at a coffee shop, turning on your VPN helps ensure that the data you send and receive is encrypted and can’t be spied on.
Use End-to-End Encrypted Chat App
Apps with full end-to-end encryption are safe from prying eyes, whomever they may be. By convincing your friends and family to switch to chat apps like WhatsApp and Signal, you reduce the chance that your communications will be intercepted. As with password managers or anything else, there is never a guarantee of perfect security, but taking the step to use services that place a high priority on security is better than not doing it.
For the average person who’s just looking to make some positive changes, adding these five precautions to your digital life will make a significant difference in the quality of your defense, and your ability to recover from common attacks.
Watch a Google video: Does two-factor authentication protect me from hackers?