5 Tips to be Safer Online

There are threats out there on the internet that are completely virtual i.e. they do not exist at all in the real world. These threats can do just as much harm as real threats because they can transcend into the physical realm. For instance, email compromise or phishing is one of the biggest security threats out there, along with other malware like ransomware, that can crush organizations and endanger us all. We need to get you to close most of your security gaps so that common threats like these do not affect you, and for you to pass on this information for the security of your family and friends, which is what this article is all about!

So, regarding online threats on the internet, let’s first start with a bit of reflection. What would we do without the internet these days? How could we possibly conduct any of our day-to-day activities without being online? Most people would feel like they just lost all of the air to breathe in the room if their internet connection was suddenly disconnected. The younger demographic, who grew up with the internet and are especially habituated to it would most probably suffer a nervous breakdown if that were to happen. After all, how would they play games and interact with their friends online? Some even rely on the internet for their education. As a species, we haven’t thought about how much we rely on the internet and how many hours per day on average we spend on it, but people love the web and that is an objective fact. Because we love it so much, the internet now has an estimated 5 billion users. That is a large majority of the Earth’s population. Perhaps an even more staggering statistic is that there are an estimated 40 billion devices out there. By 2030, this figure is expected to reach 50 billion devices, that’s the number 5 followed by nine zeros ⁠— an inconceivably large number to say the least. The scariest concept of all, though, is not that we are all joined at the hip to this thing we call the internet, but the fact that so many online threats are out there that have billions of sneaky entry holes through which to compromise people and even ruin people’s lives in the process.

This is why it is critical (IT experts would go further than that and say a matter of life and death) to take a look at what online threats are and how to best defend against the most common types of online threats — something you can achieve within 5 minutes by following the tips in this article (and reading up on the phishing link above too). That’s all it takes, 5 minutes to download a couple of software programs and understand some basic internet best practices. You must do this, as the ill-intentioned threat actors and their weapons are out to get you, do not for a moment think they are not or that you are not important enough to be targeted.

Are 5 minutes too long to potentially save yourself from trouble? Surely not. Read on!

What is an Online Threat?

We all understand what a threat is. Now, take that concept and apply it to the virtual realm that 5 billion of us interact through, which we so aptly named the World Wide Web — a web that connects us globally. Online threats, or web-based threats, are a category of internet security risks that most often lead to undesirable events or actions. There are several ways in which these threats are made possible, including software vulnerabilities that malicious hackers will exploit, direct attacks, email compromise, malicious surveillance, and more. Online threats have become very sophisticated over time, and can now attack multiple platforms in several ways, can be automated, and even use artificial intelligence.

As you can imagine, internet security experts and software developers are sweating 24/7 to fight off the extremely powerful and damaging, modern online threat plague. However, we are discussing something different. We are discussing what steps you can take to ensure you steer as clear as possible away from the most common threats, which the majority of people are both unaware of and unprotected against.

The most common threats arrive via email. Let’s address this and also get you set up so that your device (s) and personal, sensitive information are as bulletproof as possible from now on against attackers and malicious programs that lurk on the web.

What is Phishing?

Email phishing scams, or the business equivalent known as Business Email Compromise (BEC), account for the majority of organizational and private threats to both the work sector and regular citizens because of the ease of use and low cost inherent to these types of attacks. These threats have caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage to the world economy, and continue to do so, yet they are so simple and cheap to run for internet criminals.

Simply put, a phishing email is an email that either urges, requests, or calls for attention to a subject. This is a fraudulent email that will contain a link or attachment. It is tuned so that the victim will clumsily click through the mail, putting their complete trust in the content and the sender at a moment’s notice. Once the link is clicked or the attachment downloaded, the deed is done. A user’s credentials can be stolen by keyloggers, a device infected with viruses, or worst of all sensitive data taken ransom with ransomware malware.

How to be 90% Safer Online in 5 Minutes

There are a few tools and some knowledge that you need to immediately put up a strong barrier that will fend off malware and make internet attackers hesitate at the onset. First of all, you need to protect access to your internet connection at the source, which means instituting long, random passwords from the router right up to your laptops and smartphones (and using different passwords for each). You don’t want anyone breaching your source components, otherwise, anything you do at the later stages is of no use. Secondly, once you’ve done that. protecting the internet connection at the software level means using a high-tier Virtual Private Network, or VPN that will cloak, encrypt and anonymize your internet connection so that it cannot be tracked. Third, you need to protect your operating system and files with a premium antimalware suite that can scan the web and physical disks in real-time.

Finally, the most important thing to do is have common sense while using the internet. This means never oversharing information about yourself or your account credentials online. In addition to that, pay attention to who you talk to on social media and who is sending you emails, encrypting your devices, as well as keeping your software automatically updated. On the other hand, you must practice the art of backing up your data offline where it cannot be reached by the red virtual hand of internet criminals and their arsenal of weapons. By applying these criteria, you are on your way to a massively improved internet security stance!

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