Different users have different threshold security requirements that they believe are essential for them to fully and securely utilise the existing cyberinfrastructure. Therefore, there are varied measures that users apply to secure themselves online depending on their own personal requirements. Like some users might only care about the protection and security of their online accounts (like: social media and banking), whereas other users might be very particular and careful about any metadata stored on them by big corporations like Google and Facebook and any sort of user profiling done on them either for advertisement or national security.
In this article, I will highlight some basic measures that all users should implement to make themselves more secure online.
Firstly, use a reputed password manager like LastPass or KeePass to store all your passwords and additionally generate your passwords in the password manager as well. According to a 2012 CSID consumer survey, nearly 70% per cent of user passwords were categorised as being weak or very weak and that has led to 1 out of 5 American consumers experiencing a security breach of their online accounts.
Secondly, in addition to using a secure password, users should also update their passwords regularly and use two-factor authentication whenever possible. Using Google Authenticator or a YubiKey for two-factor authentication instead of a phone number is significantly more secure and should always be the user’s first preference.
Thirdly, use https whenever possible while browsing the web and especially when entering your private credentials. Https is a secure version of http, that encrypts all the communication between the web browser and the website that the user is browsing. The user can check if a website is implementing https or not by verifying the presence of a green lock icon next to the website URL.
Fourthly, users can easily encrypt their private data on their devices by using a secure key. Data encryption provides users with an added layer of security, so that even if a malicious actor gets hold of the user data they still cannot decipher it or make sense of it.
Lastly, given that there is a higher reward for attackers to target smartphones rather than personal computers, it is very important to pay attention to some basic mobile security practices. Users should be careful when downloading new applications from Google Play Store and the access permissions that these applications ask for. Not all applications need to have access to your location, images, camera or microphone, and it is crucial to disable these permissions whenever possible. Some reputed security-focused communication applications are: WhatsApp and Signal for text messaging and phone calls, and ProtonMail for encrypted emails.
These are some of the basic security practices that every user should strive to follow to maintain online security. However, it is not a comprehensive or exhaustive list of all crucial security practices as the domain of cybersecurity is ever evolving and growing. It is therefore recommended that users do their own research to learn more and educate themselves about the ever-changing domain of cybersecurity, as the stakes are high and the information once released can be challenging to contain.
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