9 Ways To Protect Yourself Online

Recently updated on: September 20, 2023

We now live in a world where a considerable part of our life is uploaded online. And through the years, hackers, scammers, and social engineers have become more sophisticated.

According to Kaspersky Security Network, the Philippines is in the Top 10 of Global Web Threats Detection. In 2020, 44.4 million cybersecurity threats were detected in the country.

So, the best way to protect ourselves online is to know the basic cybersecurity mitigation measures and implement simple changes in how we interact on and outside the Internet.

You may think that hackers and scammers would not come for you, but you're mistaken. 

They will come and take your money and personal information if you allow them. So, here are some ways how you'll protect yourself online.

1. Use a Passphrase or a Strong Password. Change It Regularly.

Change Your Password Regularly To Protect Yourself Online.
Photo By Miguel Á. Padriñán On Pexels.com

A passphrase is like a sentence you use as your password, containing up to 127 characters. 

For example, you can use "I like to buy fish in the market" as your passphrase. It is longer, easier to remember, and, more importantly, more secure.

Using a passphrase instead of a password provides higher security since there are more combinations to try before being cracked.

It is important to avoid common passwords from this list. Also, don't reuse passwords in your accounts because a single mistake can expose you. 

Try using a password manager, like the built-in Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, to store and generate random passwords.

If a passphrase option is available, use it. I often use a line from a song or a poem that is easy to memorize. Then, after 3-6 months, change the passphrase using the following line.

2. Use Two-Factor Authentication.

Use two-factor authentication whenever possible because it gives another layer of security to your online accounts.

For example, after inputting your username and password, you must also input an OTP (One-Time Password) sent via text, call, or email. This added layer of six numbers can be enough to deter some hackers.

Some websites may require captchas and app-generated codes like Google Authenticator and physical authentication key cards.

3. Use An E-Credit Card Instead of a Debit Card For Online Payments.

A Person Using A Laptop Holding A Credit Card
Photo By Kindel Media On Pexels.com

With the emergence of online shopping, online payments also had a boost.

However, many people fall victim to scammers and hackers through online payments. One way to avoid this is by checking if the website has an HTTPS extension.

The 's' in HTTPS means 'secure,' and your financial details are relatively safe. Accessing unsafe websites may compromise your data and financial information.

When paying online, use credit cards or e-credit cards instead of debit cards because they are easier to dispute if you become a purchase fraud victim.

4. Use An Antivirus On Your Computer.

Computers usually have built-in antivirus software installed when you buy them. However, it typically doesn't offer full functionality and security.

So, subscribing and paying for another antivirus software will have more benefits. A subscription fee is always better than exposing yourself to online threats.

When choosing which antivirus to install, it is crucial to have the following features: real-time scanning, automatic updates, protection for multiple apps and devices, and of course, the ability to fight against different types of malware.

5. Avoid Sharing Personal Information With Anyone.

Your personal information is critical today because it can make your life difficult if your data is stolen.

Like in scamming, phishing, and social engineering, most victims did not do their due diligence.

It is important to avoid providing information that you think they already know.

For example, in online bank transactions, it is obvious that someone calling and representing a bank should already have your details like your account name, account number, username, and password. They will never ask for your credit card number and CVV.

Also, never share your password with anyone. I mean anyone, not even your friends.

Another is to never write your usernames and passwords down in a notebook or paper since they are very easy to steal.

Social engineers became more prevalent today in getting our phone numbers because of unsecured logbooks that we fill up in malls and other establishments due to COVID-19 "contact tracing," resulting in an increased number of people getting scammed.

As a precaution, avoid giving sensitive information to unknown callers, such as your middle name, mother's maiden name, birthday, and address, even if they "sounded legit."

6. Learn To Identify Phishing Scams.

Scam Alert Letting Text On Black Background
Photo By Anna Tarazevich On Pexels.com

Some phishing scams are relatively easy to detect if you know the tell-tale signs and one common phishing scam is email phishing.

Phishing emails usually demand immediate actions, such as you won a lottery, your bank account is locked, or your account is hacked, but they can also come from "legitimate-looking" people.

However, if you look closely at their email addresses, their email addresses are inconsistent with the company they pretend to represent.

Another is they usually have grammatical and spelling errors in the body of their emails. 

They also use generic salutations, like Dear Sir/Mam or Hi Dear. Avoid clicking on any suspicious links in the email which can redirect you to a website that can take your details or even lock your device through ransomware.

If you ever receive suspicious emails, you can mark them as SPAM.

7. Avoid Connecting In Unsecured Public Wi-Fi.

Sure, it is fun to access the Internet wherever you are, but be careful where you connect.

Unsecured public Wi-Fi can expose you to security threats if you're not too careful. If you have no choice but to connect to public Wi-Fi, ensure you are connected via VPN.

A virtual public network or a VPN service is software that can hide your online location. There are built-in VPNs and paid ones.

You can change your location to hide your activities online from snoopers, sniffers, and hackers.

8. Always Backup Your Important Documents Online.

Cloud In Sky And Building
Photo By Ivan Cujic On Pexels.com

Cloud services such as Google Drive, iCloud, and Microsoft OneDrive are a few of the products that offer cloud-based storage services which you can utilize to save your documents online.

You may need to pay for higher storage space, but there are still free services like Google Drive, where you can store your important documents up to 15GB.

I know a few people who were victimized by ransomware, paid for the 'ransom,' and still didn't retrieve their files, so regularly update your backup files for peace of mind.

9. Check Your Privacy Settings In Your Social Media Accounts.

Our social media is one of our vulnerabilities, so we must refrain from posting every detail of you online. This includes our middle name, birthday, home address, work or position, and family members.

If you're not careful, hackers and scammers can easily get your important personal details and use them for whatever purpose.

Regularly check your privacy settings on your social media. Delete friends or connections you don't know, and don't accept strangers.

You can lock your profile on Facebook so strangers can't see your details.

Final Thought:

Data is the new oil in the 21st century. Hackers and scammers will try to exploit every opportunity to take advantage of or steal your data, so it is important to take extra caution when using the Internet.

Remember that your online security is only as secure as you make it, so do your part and do due diligence.

There are so many people who were already victimized online. Please don't be the next one.

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