Computers and other digital devices have a central place in our lives today. Thus, there’s no excuse for anyone not to have at least some basic level of understanding of what security practices should be followed. If you have a car, you probably know how to at least do some basic maintenance on it. However, for some reason, when it comes to computers, people freeze up and assume that this is some mystical field reserved for experts. The truth is, there is a lot the average person could do to improve their state of security. And it doesn’t take any advanced knowledge to at least cover those basics.
Never Reuse Passwords
If this sounds like an obvious tip to you, good. You’re in a lucky minority of people who understand this basic security principle and its implications. But don’t think that this applies to most people. In reality, the majority of computer users are pretty lazy about their security habits, and this is one of the most commonly observed mistakes.
It’s a big problem because sites and services get compromised all the time. Even if passwords are stored in an adequately hashed format, that information can still potentially be of use to malicious operators looking to compromise other accounts you have. Preventing this is as simple as coming up with a unique password for each site you sign up for and sticking to that rule. Use a password manager if keeping track of all those passwords is too problematic for you.
Take It Easy with Social Media
A common point where people get attacked from is social media. It’s just too easy to extract a lot of useful information through this channel in many cases, and many people don’t even realize that they are being worked on until it’s too late. Attackers will use the information you voluntarily post yourself to build your profile. You’d be surprised how much one can learn about the average Facebook or Instagram user by keeping track of things like location check-ins, picture tags, relationship status, and other available data points.
Another approach is to target you more directly through social engineering. If you get friend requests from accounts of the opposite gender that you don’t recognize and have nobody in common with, there’s a good chance they’re trying to probe you for information. Stopping them is as simple as being vigilant about who you add on Facebook and other social media platforms.
Adblockers Are about More than Just Ads
Site owners need ads to maintain the profitable status of their operations and to continue improving their content and services – we get that. But the unfortunate reality of today is that many ad networks are infected with malicious content. For example, the “ads” that prey on the browser and operating system vulnerabilities and attempt to infect innocent users with viruses. Running an adblocker may put you on the fence morally, but you should not compromise your own security and personal information for the sake of site owners who are unable to find more reputable ad networks to work with.
Antivirus Is Essential
The same goes for antivirus. You might think that you have a good idea of what practices to follow when opening files and following links, but hackers are getting quite crafty lately, and some of their tricks are hard to keep up with. A good antivirus tool will not stop viruses completely. In fact, it might do very little against sophisticated, targeted attacks. But it’s still a good layer of protection on top of everything else you might be using. Running a trustworthy mobile VPN is also a good idea if you are more active on multiple networks.
Are You Backing Up Your Data?
Last but not least, a tip that many people tend to ignore until they actually run into a situation that makes them understand its implications. There’s a reason you will often hear experts recommending that you run regular backups of all your important data. That’s because it allows you to have some peace of mind about the integrity of your information. Information which, in these times, could be quite critical – from old unique photos of family and friends to tax returns, confidential assets, and more.
Most modern security solutions are not hard to set up and operate on a long-term basis, so you should have no excuse for not exploring the appropriate security practices for your lifestyle. Read up on what concerns you, try out some free tools, and see what you can come up with.