Did you know that in 2018 over 1 billion people were compromised and their private information was stolen? This information can include credit card numbers, home addresses, phone numbers, and other highly sensitive information.
In 2019, we aren’t any better, and the numbers are up to 4 billion additional compromised users for the year so far. With this information, Cyber Security and online security needs to improve, and not just for businesses, but in our personal lives as well. Hackers are trying to get any information they can, and we must be able to stop hackers from getting it.
We must improve our practices and stop allowing hackers to compromise and steal our livelihoods, steal our identities, and ultimately get rich doing it. This is why I want to go over these 10 FREE Tips For Online Security and provide everyone with some ways to improve their security posture.
Without a doubt, protecting ourselves is a necessity, but we can’t do it alone and will need help from the big companies in the world, but there are still many things and different online safety measures we can take and improve. I think we all agree that tips for Online Security are extremely useful, so let’s get started.
1. Learn Different Attack Types
Automatic protections that I will tell you about below are great and add some extra oomph to your security, but ultimately the weakest link in our security is ourselves. Without knowing what cyber attacks look like, how can we protect against it?
Cyber attacks are meant to deceive us and look like legit emails or websites we may not be aware of or understand. They will trick sometimes even the best Cyber Security experts as some are almost even undetectable. In this scenario, training and learning are going to be the best option to improve in this space, and there are many things to look for:
- Wrong domain names in email or website
- Don’t click or download attachments
- Unless you are expecting it, it’s probably not real
2. Don’t overshare
Hackers of today will use anything they can find on you to hijack your accounts and/or social engineer you. Your goal should be to keep as much information about yourself as private as possible, and don’t overshare. That birthday coming up?
Keep it to only friends on social media. Set your Facebook accounts to private, and any other social media accounts you can. With too much information, someone can impersonate you and get into your accounts, reset passwords, get access to cell phones, and many other things.
- Set all social media to private
- Don’t give personal information to strangers
- Don’t send personal information in emails
3. Update everything
Keep your computers and laptops fully updated which includes applications and your Mac/Windows operating systems. Update anytime updates come out and don’t postpone them for too long. Any software we install on our computers includes key updates that can include security and vulnerability fixes. This includes many viruses or tools used by hackers. Some key software to update
- Windows 7 or Windows 10
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Google Chrome
- Internet Explorer/Edge
- Many many more
4. Complex passwords
Complex and hard to guess passwords is key to any online security and stops hackers from just guessing your password. This step goes along with not oversharing, as a lot of the information we use or do in our lives can end up in our passwords. We should never be lazy with our passwords, and passwords a lot of times.
If you’re low on money a free option is keeping your passwords written in a notepad that you hide in a safe or somewhere else is an option. You can also use a Password Manager which will keep track of your passwords for you, and allow you to use much more random passwords.
I highly recommend typing in passwords to get ideas on this password website by Kaspersky. It gives you an idea of how long it would take to brute force your password. A lot of times we have a long password, but don’t realize the words we are using causes it to be insecure. DO NOT use your current passwords though, as that wouldn’t be safe, and only use passwords that would be similar to get an idea of time associated with it and how safe they could be.
Besides passwords, another key feature in protecting your passwords is two-factor authentication. Not only does two-factor prevent hackers, it will almost eliminate the risk. There is still a chance of getting hacked, but it is significantly lower and typically has to do with social engineering, etc. Two-factor can be enabled on email, and many banks use it, it can also be enabled within games and forums. Two-factor should be turned on anywhere you can!
- Use a password testing site to give you an idea of a good password that would take a long time to guess.
- Use a password manager, or notepad to write down passwords
- Randomize your passwords to remove personal information that can be taken from social media or people who know you.
- Activate two-factor authentication anywhere possible
5. Improve Network and it’s security
Network Security is a key fundamental to help improve your security posture. You could be as secure as you want but then log into insecure or guest WiFi networks, and all the security you put into your home would be useless at that point. There are many items that we can improve our security within our network that are rather simple, and some just take practice.
Don’t plug in USB devices that you do not trust, and don’t plug into other peoples computers. Do not use Public WiFi’s without a VPN service that protects you, and even then I stay off Public WiFi’s (McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc). Do not use the default administrator account on your PC and make a regular user account. Don’t allow friends or others to connect to your WiFi at home, as they could be infected as well; instead you can configure a guest wifi and only allow them to use that. Run free vulnerability scanners on your home network/devices, there are many good ones out there, Nessus is great.
- Don’t plug in unknown USB devices
- Don’t use Guest WiFi networks or public WiFi without a VPN service
- Setup regular user accounts and don’t use your default admin account
6. Antivirus Is Mandatory
Using good Antivirus software is not an option anymore. Whether you use the basic Windows Defender that comes with your computer or use a paid antivirus product, having at least SOMETHING is key. There are quite a few Free Antivirus products on the market today.
Sophos has a great antivirus product on the market that’s free (you have to deal with a few ads). Keep in mind that most free antivirus does not include additional features; like firewalls, ransomware protection, or advanced malware detection.
I would recommend Sophos Antivirus as a premium product as well if you want to go with a paid Antivirus product. They include 10 devices and many great features for one of the lowest prices on the market.
- Download a free antivirus, free trial, or use a paid product of your choice, there are many good ones out there.
- Configure and turn on all features that aren’t defaulted on
7. Multiple Firewalls
Multilayered security is always better than single, and you can have a Firewall at both your incoming connection for the internet, and on your PC. Windows includes a firewall that gets the job done, and most antivirus products will supplement this firewall further. A firewall blocks outbound connections from coming to your device, unless they have been allowed to come through. Follow some easy firewall configurations to better secure yourself, as many firewalls come with a default configuration that isn’t as secure as it can be.
- Use a good router to protect yourself which includes a firewall
- Get a firewall with IPS/IDS if you can
- Configure the firewall to improve security
- Disable all incoming connections unless you need them
8. Mobile device
Our mobile devices sometimes have more information than even our computers do anymore. We’ve all heard in the news how celebrities are getting their phones broken into, or how their accounts were compromised, pictures stolen, etc. We have our lives on our cell phones and this can be a huge risk.
Our cell phones need to have just as much protection as our computers, including virus protection, passwords, pins, and other mobile securities. All the previous steps apply to our cell phones as much as they do our computers and should be followed just as much. Finally, you can put location tracking on your mobile devices as well, which will help you find your lost or stolen devices, just be sure you have the police go to the locations and not yourself for safety.
- Backup your photos, documents, etc
- Turn on Location services
- Enable Passwords/Pins
- Change passwords often
9. Backup your backups
Your data on your computer is always at risk, and even with a good security setup at home, you should always have backups of your data. iCloud is great, but unfortunately, if your data gets hit by ransomware and is encrypted your iCloud data will be encrypted too. One drive allows you to save revisions, so it is a bit better. The simplest thing to do is use an external drive and copy your data to it, but there are a LOT of online backup options you can use to protect your data further.
- Use a good online backup that includes revision history/copies
- Use an external backup drive at a minimum
- Configure backup to make sure all important files are backed up
10. Awareness and Guard
Last, but not the least important by one bit, is being aware of what’s out there, and what you can get compromised from. Watch your emails and before you open attachments, as yourself if it could be fake. For the most part, if your bank sends you an email, or if you get something from a website you use, just go to the website instead of clicking on the email links. At the very least make sure the links look real when you’re at the websites and don’t allow yourself to be fooled.
- Be aware of emails that look fishy (Phishy)
- Make sure you are on the websites you meant to go to
- If it sounds fake, it probably is
- Even family could get hacked and be sending you fake messages or emails
- Scams are all over on social media, so be careful
Hackers are out there and are trying to compromise data for everyone they can get. Companies are at more risk than ever and will need to get better at security, and at home, we should be doing the same. This list is not the only thing you need to do to prevent your house from getting hacked or attacked but by implementing and following these 10 items you will decrease your risk 10 fold. These tips will help you better protect yourself and your family.
I hope you enjoyed these tips, and for more tips like this or to suggest something else you’d like me to give information about, comment below and subscribe to my tips newsletter.