Living in the digital age comes with many benefits. We no longer have to light our homes with candles or ride in a horse and buggy to get to the grocery store. We also have more ways to entertain ourselves, from streaming shows and movies online to playing video games with people all over the world. And best of all, communication is easier than ever. You can reach anyone at the drop of a dime through email, text messaging, and phone calling.
However, all of these luxuries we take for granted come with their drawbacks as well. Because most of our world is run on technology today, it’s much easier for personal and confidential information to get hacked if appropriate measures aren’t taken. Whether you’re in your own home or working remotely at a coffee shop, it’s important you don’t leave yourself vulnerable to cybercriminals.
If you’re looking to stay safe in the digital age we live in today, follow these steps below.
1. Encrypt Your Data
The first line of defense when it comes to protecting yourself from a cyber attack is encrypting your data. Encryption is the act of concealing data with a specially formulated code that is virtually impossible to crack. The only way encrypted data can be accessed is with a keyword that only the creator (and those they share it with) knows.
It’s important to protect your computer data for a variety of reasons. One reason is if you send emails, photos, or other files across the web that are encrypted, it will be extremely difficult for cybercriminals to decode the key and access your data. A second reason is if your computer is stolen and you have top-secret information, such as your grandma’s famous apple pie recipe, a thief won’t be able to access it.
2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A virtual private network, or VPN, adds security to public and private networks, such as hotspots and WiFi networks. A VPN replaces your IP address with an IP address from the VPN provider, which prevents hackers from accessing your files. Previously, VPNs were used by businesses and other organizations who conducted business over open networks with sensitive information. However, as the digital age becomes more transparent and more people are spreading sensitive information online, personal VPNs are becoming increasingly popular.
When you browse the internet using a VPN, you connect to your VPN provider’s internet connection. So, if you’re at your local library doing a research paper and the VPN you’re connected to is based in another country across the world, it will look as if you are in that country instead of at the library. So, when you’re connecting to public WiFi, make sure you have a VPN put in place so others using that connection won’t be able to access your data.
3. Protect Yourself Against Viruses
Since the advent of computers, viruses and malware have been a threat. Whether it’s a seasoned cybercriminal or a bunch of teens in a basement breaking into a computer, it’s important you protect yourself and your device. Antivirus software is a great way to prevent hackers from accessing your computer and causing damage. Whenever your computer is broken into, it causes problems to your operating system and can let other hackers know your computer is vulnerable.
When a cybercriminal hacks into your computer, they can bring in viruses and malware (malicious software) that can delete information, steal your identity, and cause harm to your computer—slowing it down or not working at all. With a well-known antivirus software in place, you can rest assured knowing it will be difficult for intruders to enter.
4. Create Secure Passwords
This may sound obvious, but creating a secure and strong password is essential to staying safe in the digital age. While it may be easy to use Password123 as your email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and bank account password, you’re putting yourself at serious risk. Using the same password makes it a walk in the park for hackers to access all of your accounts and personal information.
From unwarranted hacks such as the “Free Ray Ban Sunglasses” Instagram scam to more serious breaches of security, make sure you take the time to think of a password no one will think of. This can be done using a password generator and then storing all of your passwords into a secure password wallet app.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to staying safe in the digital age, it’s important you take the time to make sure all of your files and data are secured. This can be done by encrypting your data, investing in antivirus software, and creating strong, unbreakable passwords. With these cybersecurity tips in your back pocket, you’ll have peace of mind knowing all of your personal information is safe and sound.