Presented by OnlineOnly

6 ways to protect your online privacy

If online privacy isn’t a major concern of yours, it should be.

Cybercriminals get away with bank heists and big business attacks every day, but they’re not afraid to target the little guy, either.

According to Symantec’s 2017 Internet Security Threat Report, one in every 131 emails contain some sort of malware, which puts it at its highest rate in the last five years.

Furthermore, 64 percent of Americans will cave to ransomware attacks.

Whether it’s a simple scam that loses you a bit of cash or a large operation designed to steal your identity, you need to prepare yourself for cyberattacks.

Start with these tips for protecting your online privacy.

Install Antivirus Software

It’s a no-brainer to protect your devices from viruses, but research shows that only 14 percent of people install an antivirus app on their smartphone.

It’s a simple, easy solution that will alert you when you unknowingly download a malicious file, click on an untrustworthy link, or try to connect to a public Wi-Fi network that’s been hacked.

With free, trustworthy antivirus programs available, such as Avast, there’s no reason your device should be left unprotected.

Know how to spot a scam

Viruses and malware aren’t the only cyberattacks you have to worry about.

Phishing scams are common, which occur when scammers pose as someone you trust to try to get ahold of your personal information, such as passwords.

They might, for instance, send you an email that appears to be from your bank asking you to confirm your identity by following a link and entering your username and password.

In reality, you’re handing your information straight over to cybercriminals.

If you ever get an email like this from a financial institution, such as PayPal or your bank, don’t click on the link or use the contact details provided in the email.

Instead, go straight to the institution’s website and contact them directly to confirm they sent the email.

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) is a great way to add an extra layer of security online.

A VPN routes your data through their servers to mask your IP address and encrypt your data.

This allows you to browse the Web anonymously so that your Internet service provider, ad networks, the government, and others can’t track your browsing history.

Plus, by encrypting your data, it becomes harder for hackers to use that data, even if they manage to get their hands on it.

VPN services like VPN Unlimited cost as little as $5 or less per month and can be well worth the price to protect your online privacy.

Use safe password practices

One of the easiest ways to compromise your online privacy is through poor password practices.

Not only is it an avenue for hackers, but not taking proper precautions will make it easy for other people—including friends, family, and thieves—to get into your device or private accounts.

Here are just some tips for creating strong passwords:

  • Always use a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, etc.
  • Change your passwords frequently.
  • Never write down your passwords.
  • Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Use two-factor authentication whenever it’s available.

Keep your software up to date

Unpatched software is basically an invitation for hackers to attack.

It’s easier for them to get through to your device with older versions of software since they’ve had time to learn where the vulnerabilities lie.

Keeping your operating system, browser, apps, and other software programs up-to-date can help ward off these types of cyberattacks.

Be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi can be a hotspot for virtual attacks.

These networks aren’t secure, meaning that anyone with basic hacking knowledge can spy on what you’re doing over the network.

Any passwords or credit card numbers you enter can easily be seen by the hacker.

Furthermore, due to the popularity of public Wi-Fi, it’s not unheard of for hackers to set up their own hotspots and lure you into sending private information over their networks.

Keep yourself safe over public networks by:

  • Using a VPN like NordVPN to ensure your data is encrypted.
  • Confirm the legitimacy of the network before connecting, such as by asking a café or hotel employee for the network’s name and IP address.
  • Never enter sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, while you’re connected to public Wi-Fi.
  • Turn off your Wi-Fi when you’re not using it to avoid automatically connecting to public networks.

When you browse the Web daily, keeping your data private from hackers, government officials, and ad networks can be tough, but these tips mentioned above will help reduce the risk of others getting ahold of your data.

For more information, visit the TheBestVPN website.

This article was published in partnership with OnlineOnly.

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6 ways to protect your online privacy