How To Protect Your Virtual World

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If you've recently started to wonder how protected you actually on the web, it is very wise to do so. Whether you use a cell phone, a tablet, a computer or any other form of technology, you should be so aware of what you're doing with it - especially now we're living in the new digital age - technology is so much more advanced, and this can be a blessing and a curse. There is better software to protect you, but there are also smarter hackers to tear it down. As long as you make yourself aware of this and start taking the right precautions, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. So here are some of the best tips you can get to stay safe and protected online. 

Use Anti-Virus Software 

Anti-virus software isn't necessarily 100% safe, even with this, if you're not careful you can still get hackers and bugs such as ransomware. But it is definitely a must-have because it just makes everything that little bit harder. They make your walls stronger, so they're difficult and take a lot longer to break down - think of it like a flu virus, similar to the virtual kind, in which a vaccine (software) is given to help your immune system repair itself and grow more robust. 

One of the best anti-virus software programs on the market today is Scangard. Antivirus software is one of those small investments that can pay off big time by protecting your data and devices.

Never Click On A Link You Weren't Waiting For 

This is probably the most obvious and most import thing to be aware of, and yet it happens all the time and is one of the most common ways people get their themselves into trouble. Criminals will break into computers and lure potential users by creating a fake link or an attachment asking to be opened. This can even be sent to your email which makes it look even more legit. Some of the time they are very easy to spot as the grammar and spelling aren't always perfect, but this isn't always the case. 

Experts will even monitor your social media to see what kind of things interest you, and then center the email around that. So never open anything if you're not expecting it, or don't recognize it. 

Ignore Pop-Ups

No matter what the pop-up says, don't click on it. 99% of the time pop-ups contain nasty software that will trick a user into verifying something, because it looks very important, but if you end up getting sucked into the trick, something will start downloading in the background, and you may never know exactly what it was, but you can expect to start receiving problems to your system. So whatever you do, no matter how enticing the pop-up may be - don't click it! 

Only Shop Online On Secure Sites

Before entering any home addresses, billing addresses and card details, make sure that the locked padlock or unbroken key symbol is in the top left corner of your browser. This will only ever be shown if the website is 100% secure, as well as the 'http' at the beginning. When it turns to 'https,' you know that the connection is secure. There are different levels of SSL encryption but either way it will protect the majority of your website browsing data and preferences.

Don't Save Your Card Details On Websites

When shopping online, after entering your card details you will usually be asked whether you want to save them to the site to make it quicker and easier the next time you shop. Don't bother taking advantage of this time-saver. Even though the site itself is secure and can be trusted, it's still better to take an extra 60 seconds filling the blanks than taking the risk. 

Play With Your Privacy Settings On Facebook 

If you're a Facebook user, you should know that it often updates itself which can sometimes dabble with your privacy settings, so it's a good idea to have a look every now and then to make sure your profile is still as secure as you wanted it to be. You should also remove your home address, along with any phone numbers and your date of birth, as if it isn't set to ''Only Me'', anyone can use this information against you, and even create another you. Consider deleting any groups and interests that you liked in the past too; this will just make it harder for hackers if they don't know what your interests and hobbies are. 

If You're Note Sure - Just Block Them 

If you get friend requested through social media, via sites like Facebook - if you have no idea who the person is, don't accept them! As it's all done behind a screen nowadays, it doesn't always seem so much of a big deal, but it's the equivalent of inviting home that weird stranger that watches you walk back from work. 

There are tens (if not hundreds) of millions of fake and spammy social media accounts out there just waiting to sucker you into a scam, computer virus, or worse.  

Think About The Information You're Posting  

We all know by now the importance of shredding up any personal documents, because you don't want to leave a paper trail as thieves are known to dive into dumpsters for those bits of information, and they still do to this day. But what about what you post online? You may be posting the exact same information as what you're shredding, but instead on the internet, for the whole world to see. Once that information is out there, it no longer belongs to you. 

Be Careful Of Public Wi-Fi 

When you connect yourself to public wifi, be very cautious of the sites that you are using. If you're thinking about banking online or logging into your business - think twice about whether you need to do that right now, or if it can wait until you're using your own internet. This is for your security, as any other people within the area that have the right piece of software, will be able to intercept your unencrypted data like passwords, codes and any other information they find of use. 

Never Reuse The Password For Your Main Email Address 

If a hacker has managed to crack your main email, they will now have all the information they need on you. They will be able to see all the different sites you use, and will even be able to see emails from your bank (if you have internet banking.) Not only that, but passwords from other websites you use can all be changed and reset through your email account, so they will be able to take full control over your virtual life. - Do not let this happen. 

Have More Than One Email Account 

It may seem like a bit of a hassle to manage emails this way, but think of it this way; you have one email for your bank and financial accounts, a second for social media, and a third for shopping. That way if one ever did get hacked into, you're not at risk of losing absolutely every account you've ever owned. Plus, if you get any of them dodgy emails, you will be even more aware that it's fake, because you don't use your social media email to 'verify your online banking.' 

Don't Use The Same Password For Every Site

With so many different sites out there that we use, it doesn't sound realistic to create a brand new password for each and every one, but it you want to be as safe as possible - you should. Don't use any family names, pet names, or significant dates like birthdays - they are too easy to crack. You may hear that a lot, but in the UK, research shows still 55% of the population do this, and it's making it so easy for the hackers and criminals out there. You don't necessarily have to make 100 different passwords and expect to remember them all though; there are tricks that you can do instead. 

If you have a favorite line in a song or a phrase, let's say it's "Half My Life's In Books Written Pages" (Dream On by Aerosmith,) use the first letters of each word - to make a new word. So in this case it would be 'hmlibwp'. Stick a number and a special character somewhere in that too, making it 'hm1!bwp' - you now have your new password. Then for every website that you log into, take Facebook for example - use the first and last letter of the word (Facebook) and put that on the start and the end of your password, so it will end up being - 'fhm1!bwpk'. Do this for every time. Essentially the password stays the same, but you just change the first and last letter depending on the site that you're on. It may seem a little complicated at first, but have another read and it will soon make sense to you. This little trick can help prevent you from getting hacked so don't dismiss it. 

Cybersec Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways that you can prevent yourself from being targeted by hackers, scammers and various viruses out there (some more technical than others), but it's important to remember that the people that do this are professionals and are very skilled in what they do. So if you ever do fall victim to it, don't beat yourself up about it. Just focus on doing all you can to avoid anything that looks dodgy and unreliable, as unfortunately, half the time it usually is. You need to be more vigilant than ever before to stay safe in this increasingly digital and virtual world.

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I hope you enjoyed this article about how to better ensure that your digital and virtual world won't be destroyed by hackers and cyber criminals.

Interested in more articles about how to improve company cyber security?

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