The Internet is an information superhighway of seemingly infinite proportions. Within this agglomeration of digital 1s and 0s are myriad security challenges that users have to navigate on a daily basis. Security experts routinely provide recommendations for safe and secure browsing, only to be sideswiped by the latest malicious threat to online security. Now, more so than ever before, the Internet serves as the go-to platform for virtually every conceivable facet of our lives. Education, communication, health and wellness, trading, investment, information dissemination, and entertainment – the Internet serves as a virtual canvas upon which we design our own reality.
Even established online payment providers are at risk, that’s why companies are turning to secure fraud protection technology from ecoPayz in Canada to guard against weaknesses in online payments systems. Yet, many of us continue to use the Internet with abandon, forgetting that we are truly not alone in this man-made universe. Every time we connect, we run the risk of exposure to bad actors. The integrity of connections is sacrosanct; user/server interactions require ironclad security protocols to prevent nefarious activity from taking root. Identity theft is real, and global syndicates routinely pr3y upon unsuspecting users who fail to heed the necessary protocols.
Don’t Get Hacked Before You Turn on Your PC
Hacking begins even before a computer is turned on. As hard as it is to believe, too many folks store their usernames/passwords to their PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets on post-it notes, in diaries, or on whiteboards. The best defense is always a strong offence. Security consultants recommend users remove visible evidence of passwords to sensitive accounts, including banking accounts, email addresses, password protection systems, browser passwords, login information, et al. In the same, vein it is absolutely imperative that you log out after every browsing session – never leave a computer unattended and logged in – you never know who is lurking in the office, the coffee shop, the airport, or the hotel lobby. When you’re not at your screen, log out. Next up, be sure to install an industry-accredited antivirus/anti-malware program – preferably one that requires a paid subscription.
The leading antivirus programs have the resources to stay abreast of the latest malware, viruses, trojans, adware, phishing and pharming scams. Be sure to update your antivirus software regularly, and run full system checks as often as required. When a threat is identified, quarantine it, and remove it. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that Mac systems are less prone to attack than Windows-based systems. By deduction, it is preferable to use Mac OSX, since this operating system displays less vulnerability than Windows. Having said that – Mac is not without risk.
Password Protection, VPNs, and Tor
Password protectors are routinely recommended as a viable defense against hackers. However, the integrity of a password protection system is only as good as the company that offers the service, and the way you store the password to the password protection program. Once again, discretion is advised. Ideally, it is best to use blockchain technology-style encryption to guard against hacking. Browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and the like offer to save passwords to websites, but this is of little value if these passwords are unprotected.
With Firefox, it is possible to implement password protected passwords, in addition to login password protection for your PC, Mac, or smartphone. HTTPS protocols, SSL encryption (secure socket layer), firewall protection, and regularly updated passwords can certainly increase your online safety. Additional protocols can be implemented in the form of a VPN (virtual private network) with a trusted, no logs, provider.
It’s tough to find accurate information on these companies, given that they are oftentimes licensed in obscure territories with little or no information provided. The Onion Router (TOR) is another option you may wish to consider, although it tends to significantly slow down your Internet browsing speed.
Viewed in perspective, there are things that can be done to bolster your online security. Some of them are commonsense, others require a concerted and sustained effort. Nothing is assured – so vigilance must be maintained.
Written by Danny Abramov.
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