Are you safe on the web?
The Internet may not be the Wild West world it was once, but that doesn’t mean it’s becoming much more secure. In reality, with these useful tips, a lot of other online threats have arisen – which you can luckily protect against.
The Case for HTTPS
Depending on the browser you are using, if you happen to be on a website that still uses HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), you should get a warning that your connection is not secure. There’s a good reason for that, as anyone on that page with a few minutes on their hands could see all you do. Sure, which includes any personal details or passwords that you enter.
Google is going so far as to sanction websites that do not move to the HTTPS protocol that is protected by encryption. Encrypting the information you send and receive from an HTTPS website ensures hackers can’t get hold of your data so quickly–it’s all indescipherable gibberish that they would see. Half of the Web had been secured by 2017 (at least the accessible parts), but there is still a long way to go.
Use Secure Browser Add-ons
While the general consensus is that for your safety, you must avoid HTTP websites, if you use a browser extension like HTTPS Everywhere, you can still access them. Wherever possible, it will try to force an HTTPS link, giving you a small amount of control over your data.
The sheer number of ad trackers present on the Internet is another privacy-invasive issue today. It is estimated that 90% of web pages use ad tracking technology, which not only increases page load times but can also create an accurate profile of your interests and browsing habits to serve custom ads.
Are you creepy? Sure. Can’t be prevented? Also yes–with a uBlock Origin all-purpose blocker. This uses a range of tools to get rid of advertisements, ad monitoring, and allowing cosmetic filtering when there are irritating sections to the sites you visit. uMatrix allows more fine-grained control of what is loaded on a page, even if it has a slight learning curve. Use both for an impenetrable mix based on confidentiality.
Instead, you can simply switch browsers to something that provides such features by default – such as Brave, or one of those other choices. In most of these browsers, you can still use these plugins to cover a range of filter lists.
Switch to a Secure Email Provider
See, we’re enjoying it. No one wants to sit around on the tens or hundreds of accounts they have and switch email addresses. You could be stuck throughout the day at your office. Yet think this way, if your email provider is infringed (as pointed out by 3 billion Yahoo! users), you’ll still need to do it if you don’t want your accounts to be stolen.
Every time alone, you’re going to be in panic mode, running to see it done – if the hackers haven’t already got to them. With this helpful tool, you will find out if your email account has been compromised.
If it happened, but on your accounts you have not seen any suspicious activity, then there is still a chance to recover. Switch to a secure email provider such as ProtonMail or other email encryption options. As mentioned earlier, it will be virtually impossible for hackers or other third parties to read their contents.
Set aside 10 minutes a day to switch your account-related email. Start with critical services such as PayPal and the kind – then go there. If your email hasn’t been compromised, you’re lucky – just don’t wait until you make the switch.
Better Password Management
While you’re at it, consider creating and storing solid, randomized passwords in some password managers. You’re not going to have to keep a notebook ready just to sign in because you’ve forgotten a 30-character password jumbled.
We also have the side advantage not to let you fall for phishing scams. Sometimes hackers try to impersonate legitimate services (such as bank websites or PayPal) in order to get you to enter and steal your login details. A good password manager acknowledges you’re not on the right website and refuses to enter your credentials.
Since we are dealing with the issue of fakes …
Watch Out for Public Wi-Fi
Also, cyber criminals may create fake hotspots that look almost exactly like a real network used by cafes, airports, etc. These are dubbed “Evil Twin” hotspots and are hard to avoid because hackers go to great lengths to make their networks look credible.
If it’s not password-protected, you’re also better off avoiding free Wi-Fi. It’s easy for the person sitting in front of you at the coffee shop to download some hacking tools, watch a short tutorial, and start collecting your data through the unsecured network.
The worst part is that some of the security features found in WPA2 and WPA3 (current Wi-Fi encryption protocols) make it not 100 percent safe even for password encrypted Wi-Fi. In all these situations, the best way to protect your data is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is one of the methods recommended by the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Get a Decent VPN
While HTTPS connections only encrypt your traffic on specific websites, VPNs do so for all of your network traffic before data leaves your device. This means that your browsing habits are protected against your ISP and government agencies such as the NSA.
When you use the program of a provider to connect to a VPN server (usually located in another country), the server’s IP address will be replaced. It ensures that your real location–easily identifiable through your IP –is shielded from strangers online as well as from online services. It’s actually a nice feature that helps you to unblock a lot of inaccessible material in your zone–from YouTube copyrighted videos to your favorite TV shows on major streaming platforms.
Unsure where to find a no-nonsense provider, no-logs? NordVPN review by ProPrivacy is a great starting point.