We live in an era of constant digital flux. Internet has propelled us forward so much within forty years of its appearance that we are talking about ‘Internet of Things’. But under this feel-good surface of internet there lurks the threat of cyber attack ,data leak and the prying eyes of vigilante hackers. So, for a layman the prime concern definitely is how to be safe on the internet? The easy answer would be to erase one’s digital footprint completely or keeping it minimal. But in a trying time, such as this when from office work to education everything is going digital it’d be a facile and specious argument. So, lets look into a few ways through which you can secure yourself from this ever-increasing threat of cybersecurity.
1. USE A PASSWORD MANAGER
You think you’ve created a strong password – you’ve mixed up your birth date with your pin code and street name. You think how can some unknown person know your pin code and street address. But that can be accessed from the hash data of your social media photos and posts using many third-party apps. Even if you set up a strong password and use it for every app and log-in, there’s a risk- if the security of one site is breached your data for all other apps might be compromised. This is where the password manager comes in handy.
A password manager is like your secret diary that you’ve locked and no one but you can open. What this does is, it generates random long passwords (!3ji@Jy20yM like this) for every site and stores it in their vault. Your vault is protected by a master password. So, only you canwhich can access it. Whenever you login you can either copy and paste the password on the site or you can enable the prompt by which it’ll automatically be filled whenever you access the site(NOT recommended). 1Password, LastPass Password Manager , KeePassX are some of the apps that you can use for this purpose.
2. USING SIGNAL MESSENGER:
Signal is an end-to-end encrypted messaging and phone app. This means that only you and the person you’re talking can read your messages. Even if someone intercept the messages, they can not read them. It is funded by Non-profit Signal Foundation and supported by donations. Moreover, it is open-source. It has been audited by independent academics and their report only testifies its usefulness and reliability.
Unlike many other security apps Signal is very easy to use. You can install it from the App store and register with your phone no. and you’re done. It has features like all other messaging apps; you can send attachments, create groups. If you fancy more there’s the option of disappearing messages. The notification setting offers a lot of options. You can choose any one of the three options- Show name and message, show only Sender’s name, Show no name or message. Choosing the third won’t disable notification rather it’ll show the number of messages you’ve received.
3. ENABLE TWO FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
Two factor authentication is like adding an extra layer of security to your account. What it does is, it asks you to authorize a log in before logging you in. Considering that two-third of people use the same password everywhere this is an absolute necessity. The benefit of this is even if your password is stolen and someone tries to log in, it’ll send you a prompt to allow the log in. You can always report any unauthorized log in and change your password.
4. USE TOR
Although most of us are familiar with Tor as a browser used for accessing dark net, that certainly is not Tor’s only significance. Tor allows you to hide your virtual as well as physical location while using Internet. While visiting a site using Tor, it never creates any direct connection with that website, rather it creates a three-point node that redirects your way to the site. While this may a take a little more time than usual it has immense benefits. What makes Tor even more interesting is that anyone can create their own nodes which means that tor is “voluntary and flexible” as Edward Snowden says.
But one should definitely be careful while using Tor. Do not install any add-on, plug ins, in your browser. If any site gives you a prompt of opening any file on third party app, ignore it. That might download malware or other resources outside Tor through that app.
5. USE HTTPS WHILE BROWSING
HTTPS prevents third party websites from accessing and in some cases tampering with your connection. The third-party site might include malicious websites as well as intrusive companies. It fends off interlopers who try to listen your communication with the website that you’re accessing. At a time when images, cookies, caches all are exploitable HTTPS is the only way to secure yourself as well as your own site.
We have to keep in mind that out virtual identity is just as important as our real life identify. Both can be exploited in a number of ways. Most hackers use stolen identity to commit mischief and make themselves immune from possible punishment. The recent data hack in SolarWinds has spiraled out of control and more and more companies are finding their servers breached.
So, it is only logical that we need to secure not just our Mail-ids but also our social media profiles. Websites like Tempmail, Throw Away Mail let you generate disposable email ids which you can use when you have to sign up temporarily. Websites like Have I Been Pawned, keeps a depository of data breaches. You can search with your mail-id and check whether your data was compromised in any of the breaches. Going to the password section you can type your password and check whether your password have been exposed in any data leak. Using these tools and anti-virus software will definitely ward off serious security threats.