Protecting your privacy and security online is more important than ever. As digital technology becomes more integrated into every part of our lives, there is an increased risk of data breaches, identity theft, and other cyber threats that can harm you financially and personally. Being proactive and following some key best practices means you can greatly reduce these risks and take control over your digital life.
Use Strong, Unique Passwords
One of the simplest yet most effective things you can do is use strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts. Avoid common or easy-to-guess phrases. Instead, create long passwords with a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Consider using a password manager to generate and store secure passwords without having to remember them yourself. Be sure to use a unique password for every account. That way, if one service experiences a breach, your other accounts are still protected.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Take your account security a step further by turning on two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever it is available. With 2FA enabled, you need to provide not only your password but another secondary piece of identifying information to gain access to your account. This minimizes the threat of someone accessing your account even if they manage to learn your password. Popular forms of 2FA include verification codes sent via text message or generated by an authenticator app.
Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi networks at coffee shops, hotels, airports, and other locations can be very risky to use for sensitive online activities like shopping or banking. This is because the network traffic may not be secure from potential snooping by hackers using the same network. Limit your use of public Wi-Fi and never access extremely sensitive accounts like your primary email or financial services on these networks if you can avoid it. Be skeptical of free public Wi-Fi and confirm with an employee that it is legitimately provided before connecting. Also be aware that as 5G cellular networks become more prevalent, relying solely on your phone’s cellular data for connectivity can open up certain vulnerabilities as well.
Keep Software Up to Date
Maintaining up-to-date software is crucial for protecting against emerging exploits and vulnerabilities. Set your computers, smartphones, and internet-connected devices to automatically install major software updates so you do not fall behind. These routine updates often include vital security patches that keep external parties from illegally accessing your system and data. Forgetting to update is one of the most common yet avoidable security mistakes you can make as a digital consumer today.
Protect Your Server and IoT Devices
With more internet-connected smart devices like smart speakers and webcams entering households, consumers need to ensure they properly secure these potentially vulnerable endpoints. Update the default credentials that come preloaded on IoT devices to use much stronger admin usernames and passwords of your own making instead. Also, if applicable, change settings like remote access authorization to minimize external control capabilities. Place smart home hubs and servers hosting sensitive data behind strong firewalls to control inbound and outbound traffic. The experts over at Hillstone Networks recommend enabling server protection via two-factor authentication, through methods like requiring an RSA token or Duo push notifications for admins logging into critical systems.
Safeguarding your privacy is about more than just passwords. Leveraging two-factor authentication, scrutinizing connectivity, and maintaining updates means you can greatly enhance your overall security posture. Remember to approach both endpoint protection as well as network-level defense across your digital footprint. Stay vigilant in this constantly evolving landscape of emerging cyber threats.