How to protect yourself online.

USING STRONG PASSWORDS.

Passwords you use for your sites must be complex so that the hackers cannot crack them easily. Strong and perfect passwords should have a minimum length of 8 characters. Your passwords should contain a mixture of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, digits, and symbols e.g., Th1s1s@s3cUr3p@Ssw0rd. In this case, I have substituted the ‘i’ with ‘1’, the ‘e’ with ‘3, ‘o’ with ‘0’, and ‘a’ with ‘@’ thus making the password more memorable and strong at the same time.

KEEPING CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION OFFLINE.

Confidential information like your home address, credit card info should never be online where everybody can see them. This is because hackers can steal your credit card information and use it to pay for their stuff or use the address you have provided online and come to your house without consent. You should not be posting pictures of your credit cards or airplane tickets since someone may decide to call the airport and cancel your flight without your consent

AVOID CLICKING SUSPICIOUS LINKS.

So how do you identify suspicious links? First, if the link sent is from an institution saying it is offering free bundles or money first research on the institution to see if they have posted it on their website or look at their social media handles to see where they have posted anything of the sort. If you see they haven’t posted anything about them offering those things the probably that link is a phishing link. PHISHING is a social engineering method where an attacker sends a link to a user either through email or messages pretending to be a legit institution and lures the user to provide confidential info such as addresses, passwords, and credit card info.

AVOID FREE WIFI.

How many times have you found yourself enjoying free wifi? Probably most of us have been a victim of this in one way or the other. Free wifi is a security risk because an attacker can be sniffing and analyzing the network packets and they can capture your credentials and credit card information over the network and they can also lure you to provide your credentials unknowingly to them thus you should avoid free wifi at all cost.

BE CAREFUL WHO YOU CHAT WITH.

On various social media platforms we find ourselves chatting with people we don’t know. But while chatting with them, you should be careful not to give out sensitive information about yourself to the person. This is because you don’t really know the intentions of that person yet. For example., An attacker could be chatting with you, and he lures you to tell him/her your date of birth the school you go to your phone number, and use this information to come up with possible passwords and use them to hack your account.

USE VPN.

VPN means Virtual Private Network. It is very important to use it because if there is someone who is analyzing packets in the network you are connected to, they will not be able to know what you are browsing or searching for. VPN offers a layer of security by encrypting your network traffic. In a nutshell VPN routes all of your internet activity through a secure, encrypted connection, which prevents others from seeing what you’re doing online and from where you’re doing it.

AVOID SITES THAT USE HTTP INSTEAD USE THE ONES WITH HTTPS.

Always go to sites with HTTPS over HTTP since HTTP sites are not secure and everything is transferred in plain text. This means that if the user puts a username and password anyone analyzing the network packets can see the data in plain text since it is not encrypted but for HTTPS the data is encrypted and you can not be able to see anything. Below is an example of signing in to an HTTP site and as you can see the login details are in cleartext.

MAKE ONLINE PURCHASES FROM SECURE SITES.

Online purchases require you to provide your credit card information and if the site is not secure your credit card information may land in the hands of hackers and this isn’t what you would want

KEEP YOUR ANTIVIRUS UPTO DATE.

It is important to keep your antivirus up to date so that it can add newly detected virus signatures to its database and thus it will improve the efficiency of the antivirus. Never disable your antivirus because it helps to flag/detect and remove the virus before they cause any harm to the system.

TURN OFF BLUETOOTH OR WIFI IF YOU AREN’T USING IT.

Research by some security experts has shown how someone can exploit a vulnerability in a Bluetooth connection by listening and changing the content of the Bluetooth connection. So if you are not using Bluetooth i.e., having paired to something else you should turn it off. For wifi, when your wifi is on it probes for wifi connections that were connected to the device to see if it is available. So an attacker may create a rogue wifi hotspot and trick your phone to connect to it.

USE 2FA IN ALL YOUR WEBSITES.

2FA means Two Factor Authorization where even after providing the password of a website you are required to provide a code that will be sent to either your phone number or email address or an authenticator app like the google authenticator. This helps boost the security of your account and will prevent hackers with your password from accessing the website since they will not be having the final code required for them to be authenticated.

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Charles Koome
Charles Koome

I am a cyber security enthusiast and love all kinds of tech stuff. I love playing CTFs and doing penetration testing(websites and mobile applications).

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