Keeping Your Data Secure Online

Most people know how to secure their homes but leave themselves surprisingly vulnerable on the Internet. The three major areas of concern are browsing, networking and passwords. While good security does not require complete anonymity or the use of a tinfoil hat, it does involve common sense and planning.

Password Security
Weak passwords are the Achilles heel of many online users. It is quite surprising how often birthdays, anniversaries, children and pet names are used as passwords and often on more than one site. At minimum, a strong password should contain upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. A different password should be used on every website, and two-step authentication utilised to verify identity. Delete accounts when leaving a service, and check app permissions on social media accounts, removing access for those that are no longer used. If password hints are used, they should be misleading to hackers but easily remembered by the user.

Browser Security
The best way for users to protect themselves while web surfing is to make use of extensions such as HTTPS Everywhere, which will make sure that any data exchange is done in a secure environment. AdBlock Plus and Do Not Track are add-ons that prevent tracking by advertisers and social networks. If browsing is done on a public terminal or a computer that is shared by many people, the user should always log out of all accounts and clear cache and cookies when finished. Increased awareness about how malware, phishing and identity theft work can help protect users from scams.

Network Security
A machine that is used mainly for basic tasks such as emailing, web surfing or document creation does not need top-drawer security, but it does require some diligence. Keeping the computer’s software up-to-date and backing up important files and photos regularly will prevent the headaches associated with data loss. If a router is in use on the home network, it should be assigned a non-default network name and password to prevent hackers guessing the log on. Those whose computers are the center of work and life will need to take extra steps, such as automated backups and setting specific permissions for folders if the machine is shared. When using a public wireless network, folder and file sharing should be disabled to prevent others from snooping. Travellers should simply shut off wi-fi when it is not needed.

Whether for work or leisure, the Internet has become central in the daily lives of most people, and security plays a big role in keeping everything running smoothly. Following the tips above will ensure a safe, productive experience.

Content supplied on behalf of Axon, IT outsourcing providers in Manchester

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