As more people keep turning to the web, the rate of cybercrimes continues to rise. Every year, we make resolutions about everything, including protecting our privacy, especially on the internet.
No matter the plans you’ve laid out this year about your business, career, or relationships, don’t forget your digital life.
Remember, a well-targeted and well-executed cyberattack can affect all your new year’s resolutions and plans. If you become a victim of identity theft and lose all the money in your account or land in jail, all your goals will go down the drain. That’s why you must protect your privacy at all costs today, especially on the internet.
Cybersecurity Resolutions To Set for 2021
If you’re yet to start your resolutions on how to stay safe and private online, we have a few suggestions for you in this article. Let’s get to them straight away.
Avoid Unsecured Public Wi-Fi Networks
One of the key resolutions to stay safe online in 2021 is to avoid the public Wi-Fi network. It’s free and tempting to use, but those networks are easily accessible for hackers too. Being on a public Wi-Fi network exposes your data to the provider, and if the traffic is unencrypted, a hacker can compromise your privacy.
If you must use these freebies, make sure to take some precautions, such as connecting to a quality VPN first. Don’t access the internet directly through the networks to avoid ruining your year. Also, never share sensitive information on a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
Use Safer Search Engines
There’re lots of search engines to get answers to anything you want. But we’re so used to Google that many people think it’s the only feasible option available. That’s not true. Other search engines exist on the internet, and many of them can surprise you in terms of features and functionalities.
Apart from that, many Google alternatives are privacy-friendly. Some of them will never log users’ activities, do not collect personal data, and won’t ever sell your data to advertisers. A private search engine like DuckDuckGo will never track you or monitor your online activities. Some other search engines that protect users’ privacy include:
- Search Encrypt
- Swiss cows
There’re many others out there, too, but these search engines are the most trusted ones you can try in 2021.
Use Encrypted Messaging Apps Only
Do you know that cybercriminals can intercept messages you send to your loved ones through the apps you use? Most messaging apps don’t have end-to-end encryption that protects your messages.
Most of the apps allow third-parties to read your messages, which should be private. So we encourage you to change the messaging apps you use if you want to keep your communication private this year.
End-to-end encryption protects your message as it travels along dangerous routes to get to the recipient. With such encryption, only the receiver can read your messages and not a third-party like the government. With this encryption in place, your messages will even be useless to a hacker as he tries to intercept them.
Some trusted secure messaging apps that use end-to-end encryption include Telegram, Signal, and Viber. Our favorite Whatsapp app also claims to use end-to-end encryption to keep your messages private.
Use Safer Browsers
If you didn’t know, many browsers you’re using right now are not protecting your privacy. Many of these popular browsers have loopholes that hackers can exploit to steal your data. In fact, most browsers give advertisers the chance to track your digital trail by default. It’s all about digital marketing, and there’s nothing you can do except to protect yourself.
So if you want to ensure that no advertiser can track and harass you with annoying ads, you should use privacy-friendly web browsers. With browsers like Brave, Firefox, Tor, etc., you can be sure of staying hidden from trackers. At least, these guys keep web trackers and ads away from you by default.
So instead of using the popular ones this year, go for the safest browsers.
Avoid Unsecured Email Providers
Here’s another resolution to be taken seriously. We’re all used to Gmail and Yahoo mail but are these email providers safe while surfing the internet? Can they ensure that no one steals your data for malicious intentions?
Already we’re aware that Google in time past used people’s data to boost their personalized ads experience. Even though they claim to have stopped the practice, such things shouldn’t have occurred in the first place.
This year, change your email providers if possible or use privacy-friendly providers such as Mailfence, CounterMail, ProtonMail, etc., to send sensitive emails. These services have free versions for all to use and paid versions for those who need additional features. With any of them, you can send everything you want without fear of adding to a hacker’s database.
Don’t Open Random Email Links
Many people have suffered big losses just because they clicked an innocent-looking link that came with an email. Cybercriminals use phishing emails to deceive internet users into revealing their financial information. The annoying thing is that those emails will appear like a legit message from trusted bodies such as banks or governmental organizations.
If you ignorantly open the links they send and give up the information they requested, you’re in for a shocker. So, be careful of email messages from sources you don’t know. And don’t follow links that ask for sensitive information.
Install the EFF’s HTTPS Everywhere Extension
This year, don’t just open websites with HTTPS encryption but use HTTPS Everywhere to protect yourself online. As you might know, HTTPS is a security requirement that website owners are supposed to use for their protection.
One of the pieces of evidence of this security tool on a website is the small padlock you notice at the top left of the browser bar when you open a site. The importance of HTTPS is that it encrypts the data that flows between a web browser and a website’s server. This means that unauthorized third parties cannot intercept your data on such a website.
Without HTTPS, even your ISP and Wi-Fi router can use your data for anything they want. The best thing to do is to stay away from sites that don’t have this encryption.
In case if you want to open these sites, make sure that you add HTTPS Everywhere extension for Chrome, Edge, Opera, and Firefox. HTTPS Everywhere also comes with an ExpressVPN Chrome extension for those who love the service.
Use Open-Source Maps
Many people depend on the Google Maps app for several reasons, but it raises one prominent question, are they safe? No wonder Google has access to almost everyone on the internet. However, you can deceive Google by using other open-source alternatives such as OpenStreetMap (OSM). This map is free and editable because it comes with an open-content license.
Many apps use OSM to provide users with everything they prefer. Suppose you’re using such apps as OsmAnd, Navit, MAPS.ME, etc., that integrates OSM, you can stay away from Google’s sharp eyes.
Regularly Update All Your Devices
Any device you use to access the internet is at risk of malware infestations. Cybercriminals use malware to infiltrate a target and compromise them.
So, if you want to stay safe and private this year, always update your laptops, desktops, mobile phones, iPods, etc. By doing that, you’ll eliminate any chances of being attacked through viruses.
Use a Reliable Password Manager
A lot of internet users are lazy when it comes to password generation and use. Most people would rather use one password across multiple platforms than creating 20 passwords at a time. If you’ve been doing this in the past, it’s time to up your game with a password manager.
This software will generate and store strong unbreakable passwords for all the accounts you have online. The best part is that you don’t even need to remember these passwords with your PM around to supply them automatically. Also, use 2-factor authentication wherever possible to give hackers an additional hard time.
Wipe Old Hardware Before Replacing Them
If you’re planning to replace any hardware soon, don’t forget to clean it out to protect your privacy. Computers come with a hard disk drive that stores every file you want to save, no matter how large. It is a susceptible part of your laptop, and the only way to dispose of it safely is to encrypt it, format it, or smash it.
So, before you throw that laptop or desktop away, make sure there’s no single data on them. Many people never remember to wipe the hard disk drive clean before thrashing or giving their laptop away.
If you can’t wipe it clean, bring out the HDD and smash it beyond restoration. That way, no one can recover your data for malicious activities.
Don’t Leave Useless Apps on Your Device
If you’re no longer using any app on your device, go ahead to delete it fast. Also, if a service you subscribed to is no longer relevant to you, delete the account. It doesn’t matter the app because even people can delete their accounts on Facebook or Google.
So when you’ve hard enough, delete those dormant accounts to stay away from cybercriminals. Hackers can compromise your privacy through those apps you’ve forgotten about or opened with weak passwords.
If someone wants to dox you this year, all they need are the crumbs of information you share on multiple online platforms. Also, a criminal can trace you physically through the information you shared on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
So, no matter how tempted you are to share your activities, resist them. Only share random kinds of stuff or information that no one can use against you. Protect your location, address, progress, and revealing pictures if possible.
Subscribe To a VPN
Don’t access the internet without a VPN. Make that a rule.
If you’ve been ignoring this warning for the past years, ensure you do not repeat that security mistake again. With a virtual private network, everything you do this year on the internet will remain confidential.
There’re lots of robust and reliable VPN service providers to explore. Check the one that suits your needs and budget.
This year has started with lots of expectations, plans, and changes. Due to the pandemic, many people are using the web for almost everything they need, from shopping to studying.
As wearing a nose mask has become a new normal, we should remember to take precautions to stay safe from cybercriminals, too.
We’ve shared some simple but effective strategies to help you protect yourself online. Start adopting and implementing them today to end this year well.
Cyber security concept, circuit board with Closed Padlock -DepositPhotos