It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and what better way to participate than by beefing up your online security. In this guide I’ll be taking a look at 5 simple things you can do that will help you stay safer online this October and well into the future.
Cyber Security Awareness Month or NCSAM as it is better known is a collaboration between the United States government and the tech industry. In an effort to push for greater online security practices from individuals, the event has been running every October for the past 15 years.
NSCAM uses the simple philosophy of STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™
Essentially encouraging all users to stop and think before they carry out actions on the internet, whether that be using an insecure website or publishing personal information that may not be needed to be shared.
In an effort to help you protect your online security this month I’ve put together 5 simple things you can do to stay safe online.
1) Install an anti-virus / anti-malware app
Viruses and malware have been around for the longest time but with the explosion of the internet, it now makes it even easier to get infected.
Installing a simple anti-virus or internet security suite will help mitigate most of the major threats. Top security suites come from companies such as Kaspersky, Norton, McAfee and AVG.
My personal favourite is Kaspersky but with recent suspicions from the US government over its Russian origins you may want to do some due diligence before choosing. I often find Norton and McAfee too bloated and while AVG is free, you should, in theory, get better protection from an app that you’re paying to do the job.
Don’t overlook your mobile devices either. While virus and malware threats were traditionally targeted to desktop computers and laptops the explosion of mobile use has seen targeted threats increase towards phones and tablets.
Most anti-virus apps allow you to install their service on multiple devices including your mobile ones.
2) Get yourself a VPN service
While anti-virus and anti-malware apps can protect your device they don’t protect your data once it’s left to the internet. A VPN app will protect your online privacy to ensure no one is snooping on what you’re doing on the internet.
Personal data has become big business these days and account information often changes hands on underground criminal networks for just a few dollars a piece. Having your personal data or accounts stolen and used can lead to months or even years of issues.
LiquidVPN is one of the best VPN services aimed at protecting your privacy online. With apps for most major systems and VPN servers located across the globe it allows you to protect your online privacy while at home or on the move.
Costing just a few dollars per month when taking the annual package it means you can secure what you’re doing on the internet with minimal hassle.
3) Teach your kids about cybersecurity
As a parent, the world is very different from the one we grew up in. If you’re lucky enough you’ll remember life before the internet.
While there are no doubt more positives to the internet than negatives we now live in a world filled with cyber-bulling, trolling, sexting, sextortion, fake news and more.
Often due to the benefits of the internet kids are given mostly free reign to play games, chat on social media and carry out many different tasks online.
It’s important to remember when teaching your kids the basics of life such as looking both ways when crossing roads to stay safe to also cover online threats.
After all, your kids are growing up in a world that will barely allow them to function without using the internet.
If you’re stuck on how to approach the subject check out GCF Global’s Internet Safety for Kids guide, The NSPCC’s Talking to your Child about staying safe online guide and Norton’s 6 fun ways to teach your kids about internet safety guide.
4) Use strong passwords
This has been said a million times but it seems never to sink in for some. The weakest link in your security chain is often your password.
If you’re using simple words or combinations of numbers like your birthday then now is the time to change your password. Use something strong, throw in random symbols, numbers and letters.
Something like ‘p/@$$w,0r.d” is a lot safer than simply ‘password’. However, for real security, this should be a random combination ‘a&j$hI9o3xF’.
What’s almost more important than a secure password is ensuring you use a different password on every site, service and app.
For both secure passwords and multiple passwords consider using a Password Manager such as LastPass. It’ll create the passwords for you and even store them safely. Combine LastPass with a hardware authentication key like the YubiKey and you’ll never have to remember a password again.
5) Avoid public Wi-Fi where possible
Connecting to the coffee shop Wi-Fi feels like an everyday thing to do, but did you know that it’s not secure?
Other users connected to the same network can siphon off your personal details and use them for nefarious reasons. That is unless you’re using a VPN from LiquidVPN.
A VPN will encrypt all of your data on the public Wi-Fi network which makes it unreadable to anyone else. Anything sent between your computer and LiquidVPN’s server is secure.
It’s always best to avoid free Wi-Fi services when possible but if you must use them, make sure you’re safe and secure with LiquidVPN.
Conclusion: Keep your cyber security safe
Staying safe online is nothing new. However as National Cyber Security Awareness Month reminds us, we all could be doing a lot better when it comes to our online security and safety practices.
The 5 tips above are extremely easy to do and while you may need to pay a few dollars for some of the recommended services they are going to save you 100’s if not 1000’s of dollars in the long run. If you become the victim of some kind of identity theft or worse then you’ll pay big to resolve it.
So why not take the next 30 minutes increasing the security of your internet usage and after that warn others such as your friends, family, kids and neighbors about the inherent threats the internet can pose.
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