Forget about high-profile data breaches. Having your Facebook hacked and unknowingly sending spam messages to your friends list makes you want to improve online security, immediately. 

Besides annoying your friends, the ease of how your social media account can be compromised could point to more vulnerabilities. As far as online security is concerned, it’s up to you to take charge, improve online security, and protect your data from being exploited.

If you have no idea of where to start, apart from downloading a random antivirus software, check out our recommendations below. 

Why It’s Important to Improve Online Security

As we’ve mentioned, the threat of getting your accounts hacked is real. Hackers are armed with a sophisticated tool that can identify loopholes in the existing security employed by online services and apps.

Some of the exploits may go beyond sending harmless spam messages. If hackers gain access to sensitive information in your email, you’ll face greater losses. Business secrets could be leaked and if you’re storing financial-related data in your mailbox, which you shouldn’t, the repercussion is unimaginable.

In 2019, Microsoft revealed vulnerabilities in Outlook which enable hackers to easily access users’ accounts. Such news, which occasionally grabs headlines, means you ought to take online security seriously. 

It isn’t just about emails and social media. If you’re targeted, communication from your device could be tapped, and the risk increases with every message, email, and browsing activity. 

Top Ways to Improve Your Security Online Right Now

Here are 10 actionable tips to improve online security that you can take right now.

1. Use Secure Passwords

Stop using the same password for different accounts and avoid easily-hacked passwords like using your name, birthday, or common words.

A strong password has at least 8 characters and combines alphanumeric with alphanumeric and symbols.  

Also, never save your passwords online as it defeats the purpose of security. If you find it hard to remember the different passwords, use trusted Password Manager programs.

2. Don’t Store Passwords on Browsers.

Browsers like Chrome are built with a function that stores your password for the respective sites. It’s convenient as you don’t have to remember every single one of them. But, is it safe? 

Remember that password managers can import your passwords from the browser. It’s hard to say if hackers wouldn’t be using the same mechanism to get hold of your passwords. 

To be safe, stick to Password Managers or have them memorized. 

3. Turn On Two-Factor Authentication

It never hurts to double the protection, especially for critical services like emails and payment gateways. Instead of merely relying on passwords, two factor authentication requires an additional input, which is often something you own or know.

Often, it involves sending an OTP code to your mobile phone or answering secret questions. If you’re using a service like Gmail or Paypal, turning on the two-factor authentication greatly increases the security of the accounts.

4. Avoid Clicking Suspicious Links

Some hackers take the traditional approach of sending malicious emails to you. We’re not talking about blatant scams but carefully crafted emails that appear legit. 

If you’re taken to sites that require you to divulge your financial information, stop and call the relevant authorities for verification. To be safe, clear all histories and caches to prevent any trackers injected by the hackers. 

Even if those links bring you to some freebie sites, you can’t be sure if they are not a ruse to inject malware into your device.

5. Clear Your Caches Frequently

The cache is a folder that stores cookies, browsing histories and other personal information. You’ll want to make a habit to clean it regularly. Letting personal info linger on your device is a bad security practice.  

Besides, some malware is made to target caches, purely for the fact that the folder contains private info and most users never clear them. 

6. Lock Your Phones With Passcodes

Smartphones are a gateway to personal information. Therefore, turn on the passcodes to prevent anyone from accessing your phone. The worst thing that could happen is having your phone stolen and it’s not protected with a passcode. 

Again, you’ll want to have a passcode that’s not easy to break. Some phones also feature biometric identification, which can be useful to complement the existing passcode. 

7. Be Cautious With Browser Extensions

Browser extensions are great to enhance the functionality of apps but some of them are created with malicious intent. Only install browser extensions from trustworthy sources. Check out the reviews and developers before installing a browser extension.

8. Update Operating Systems

Whether it’s the smartphone or a computer, you’ll want to ensure the operating system is updated. OS updates usually include security patches, which fix vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.

9. Install Anti-Malware Software and Set Up a Firewall

You can’t do without anti-malware software and a firewall. Not in today’s digital environment. Having them installed provides a defense mechanism and removes any threats that have slipped in. 

In order to enjoy optimum protection, make sure you’ve installed the latest updates to detect new malware. 

10. Use a VPN

If you’re using a public WiFi or want to stay off the radar of hackers, you’ll want to install a VPN. The double protection of a masked IP and encryption ensures your security when connected to the Internet.   

For more, read How to Get Secure and Free WiFi


FEATURES
ExpressVPNAssguardNordVPN
High-Speed Streaming
AES-256 encryption
Number of countries94+ 50+59 
No-logs policy
24/7 Customer supportNo, but they are responsive
No of devices66
Supports chain VPN connectionsNoYesYes (Double VPN)
Cost$12.95$7.99$11.95

Summary

Don’t let your guard down as far as online security is concerned. Take action and protect your data from hackers and malware. For a start, install these VPNs, which have passed our stringent tests.

Mark Coulman
About Mark Coulman

Cybersecurity expert with a keen interest in technology and digital privacy. Mark has more than 14 years of experience in creating and managing various reliable WEB applications for IT companies in the EU and the US. Loves 3-4 letter words like PHP, XML, HTML, CSS, DB2, ASP, CRM, ERP, SAP, etc.