Today, our immersion in the digital realm brings both exciting experiences and many vulnerabilities. As a result of this deep digital engagement, we often unknowingly share personal details, ending up creating a massive digital footprint. This can cause malicious actors to take advantage of your personal information unless you find ways to protect it.
That’s why just as we lock our houses before leaving, we should also “lock” our online presence to guard against bad guys. This article will primarily focus on VPNs and inform you about other cybersecurity practices and common cyber threats.
What is a VPN?
Basics first. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is one of the most essential cybersecurity tools. A VPN works like a secret tunnel for your online activities. Let’s say you’re driving through a very busy highway where everyone can see you; a VPN is like a hidden underground road only you know about. When you use a VPN, your data is encrypted, meaning it’s turned into a secret code, and it travels through a protected path on the internet.
Why Use a VPN?
Without a VPN, anybody can track your online activities. This exposure includes your online Internet Service Provider (ISP), advertisers, and even potential cyber criminals. VPN makes it hard for anyone to follow or understand what you’re doing online, as it encrypts your network connection. This encryption transforms your data into a coded format, making it difficult for unwanted eyes to crack.
VPNs also work like a charm when you want to use public Wi-Fi, such as any unsecured connection, including cafes and airports. These networks may seem convenient, but if you can connect at ease, anyone can. So do hackers!
Lastly, certain websites or content might be blocked in your country. A VPN can help you virtually travel to another country, allowing you to access the content as if you’re there.
Other Essential Cybersecurity Precautions
While VPNs provide a strong layer of protection, they’re just one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. To fortify your digital walls further, it’s crucial to implement a range of strategies. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Regular Software Updates: If you tend to “defer” your updates frequently, it’s time you stopped. Keep your operating system and applications up-to-date. This way, you can benefit from the latest security patches. Hackers often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software.
- Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): This requires a second form of identification beyond just a password. It could be a text message code, fingerprint, or even facial recognition. This means even if someone knows your password. They’ll have a more challenging time accessing your accounts.
- Strong passwords: Avoid easily guessable passwords like “password123” or “admin.” Make your passwords out of letters, numbers, and symbols altogether. Consider using a password manager to keep track of your different logins.
Understanding Common Cyberthreats
You cannot protect yourself if you don’t know what you’re protecting yourself from. It’s always crucial to recognize the enemy first. Here are the common threats lurking in the online world:
- Phishing Attacks: You might have received emails pretending to be from reputable companies, asking for personal details or financial information. These emails are classified as phishing attempts. Here, cybercriminals’ primary goal is to try to deceive you into giving away sensitive information like your credit card details.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attacks: Self-explanatory enough, these attacks occur when cybercriminals try to intercept the data exchange between your device and the network. Hackers can pry on you silently when you connect to an unsecured network like public Wi-Fi.
- Ransomware: Malicious software that locks you out of your device or encrypts your data is called ransomware. Cybercriminals often demand payment from the victims in order to release the device that’s infected. Opening suspicious attachments and downloading unsecured content leaves the door wide open for ransomware attacks.
Cybersecurity Isn’t Just for Techies
There’s a common misconception that cybersecurity and tools like VPNs, password managers, etc., are only for the tech-savvy. But, that’s not the case at all. Anyone who cares about online privacy should practice cybersecurity. Even if you don’t know anything, there are many guides online on how to use cybersecurity tools.
So, if you are no tech expert and still want to opt for a VPN, go for it! You can always research and learn what to look for when selecting a provider. Once you have an idea, check the VPN comparison table on Reddit to make sure you subscribe to a provider that fits your needs the most.
In the vast sea of cybercrime, securing your personal details is important. Your next step should be Investing time in learning more about other cybersecurity practices. Remember, a little bit of caution goes a long way.