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Ten Tips to Enhance Internet Security

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We celebrate Internet Security Day on February 5. But isn't it a good idea to practice Internet security every day? Our expert Martijn prepared these ten tips for you on how to safely use the internet. Don't take any chances and read on!

1. Use strong, unique and complex passwords

Data breaches (including password breaches) are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society. We’ve all been given the advice to use unique passwords for each site and or program and use at least 12 characters with a mix of uppercase, lowercase and special characters. If you re-use your passwords, attackers will be able to gain access to your accounts on multiple websites. The best advice is to use a password manager to keep track of which password you used for which site. Consider using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on sites which offer this service. This further limits the possibilities that hackers have when they retrieved your passwords. Since this way your need an additional manual verification step before logging in.

2. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks

Using public Wi-Fi networks exposes your traffic to everyone. This means that attackers will be able to eavesdrop on anything you send or receive over this network. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which will be able to tunnel your traffic through an encrypted tunnel. This makes attackers unable to freely eavesdrop on your communications.

3. Install Anti-Malware solutions

Anti-Malware solutions are programs that help protect your computer against most viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other unwanted invaders that can attack and infect your PC or mobile devices.  Hackers often try to infect your PC or mobile with malware to perform malicious acts, such as deleting files, accessing personal data, or using your computer to attack other computers. To detect, block and remove malware, it is advised to use an Anti-Malware solutions. Many solutions exist and include both free and paid subscriptions.

4. Configure your firewall

You can look at your firewall as if it was your front door. You wouldn’t leave massive holes in it for intruders to crawl through. Test your firewall to see if you have any services exposed from the external (public) internet. If possible, disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) since devices with these services will unknowingly try to open ports to the internet.

5. Use common sense

When browsing the World Wide Web it is extremely important to use common sense. A website asks to install a new plugin to show you its content. Is this actually required? Trying to buy something online? Then first check if you are 100% certain you are on the correct site. Always double check the URL, are you using HTTPS instead of the insecure HTTP version? Most of the time, hackers will try to entice you with “Free” offers, limited downloads, clickbait, … to get you to click on a certain malicious links. When things seem too good to be true, they often are.

6. Limit sharing personal information

Gathering information about people becomes easier and easier. People don’t think twice about sharing information with new social media platforms. Finding someone on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts may sound docile, however not everyone who’s looking at your pictures or opinions may have good intentions. Identity theft, blackmail, stalking, … are all examples of how malicious people can exploit your personal information.

7. Don’t forget your mobile devices

Often people forget about their mobile devices. However, they are as vulnerable to online threats as your PC. Be wary of which applications you install and use. Look at the permissions required to run the application. Is something out of the ordinary, for instance a photo editor application requires permission to record sounds? Review the permissions required and deny the ones you think are not required for you app usage.

8. Update

Keep everything up-to-date! This means your drivers, operating system, software, I mean everything! Turn on automatic updates when you want to make sure updates are run and spare you the trouble of manually verifying each piece of software. Don’t forget about your Anti-Virus! It is very important to update the virus definitions and signatures. New malware gets developed each day. To ensure your AV detects the new malware it is of the upmost importance that it can recognize them.

9. Keep informed

Try to be informed about the latest scams and attacks. The most popular attacks will receive much attention, even in the general media. Try to follow up on the latest attacks and be on the lookout for any new scams. One of those threads currently running rampant is “ransomware”. This attack locks you out of all your files unless you make a payment to the attackers. So please be very aware of unsafe links.

10. Back-up important data

In case anything goes wrong and you do get attacked, then often it is required to “purge” your device to get rid of the infection. This means doing a clean installation of your operating system or doing a factory reset of devices. When this happens it is important to have back-ups available otherwise you will lose all of your personal data.

Any questions? Need advice on raising the security of your business? Get in touch. Our dedicated Internet and Cyber Security team are waiting to help.