This article is authored by Sunil Sharma, Vice President (Sales), Sophos India & SAARC
As we become more connected and more online, cybercrime too has made its way into our lives. The digital age has created a host of new security problems. More and more people are falling victim to cybercrimes, from downloading malware to falling prey to phishing scams. Today’s cyber attackers are more determined and persistent than ever before, increasingly employing sophisticated methods to compromise targets.
Given this, here is what Sophos recommends on how users can stay safe online:
1. Block out the ads
At its worst, browsing the web with ads on is like trying to read a book whilst a hyperactive radio DJ shines a torch in your face and shouts at you about how they lose an ounce of belly fat every day.
It isn’t always like that, but the reason that many ads are so distracting is because they’re designed to be; ad companies have had twenty years to figure out how to get in your face and drag you away from the thing you set out to do.
They’ve also had twenty years to plumb in networks that can efficiently distribute adverts to millions of websites and track users as they move across them.
If they’re compromised by hackers, those ad networks can also spread viruses just as well as they spread ads. It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does it can affect a lot of people.
If you love ads, great, but if you don’t then an adblocker is a great way to turn down out all that noise and distraction.
Block the adverts, block the malvertising, and get back on track.
2. Get a password manager
Does anything cause more day-to-day stress online than wrestling with passwords?
Using the same password for everything is convenient but insecure, and creating lots of passwords that are strong and memorable is a recipe for frustrating lock-outs and resets.
Password managers like LastPass, 1Password and KeePass take on the burden of creating, remembering and even typing in your passwords. They make browsing a smoother, more seamless, more relaxing experience because your password manager cuts out both the legwork and the guesswork. It’s like having a virtual butler that follows you around online and opens all the doors for you.
And whilst it’s making your life easier, a good password manager can also give your security a serious boost too because now you can have as many insanely complex and difficult to crack passwords as you need.
They even make it harder for criminals to phish you with scams and fake websites.Who doesn’t want their own password butler?
3. Be nice on social media
A wiser person than me once said “the next time you are stuck in traffic, remember that you are traffic.” And so it goes with social media.
Whilst there’s plenty of good things happening online, there’s also no shortage of anti-social behaviour, and it isn’t always as obvious as bullying and trolling. Whether it’s parental one-upmanship on Facebook, humblebrags on Twitter or special snowflakes on Tumblr, posts that make their creator feel taller by putting the reader in a trench cost us all.
Research by from the Department of Behavioral Science, Utah Valley University concluded that: …those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives … those that included more people whom they did not personally know as their Facebook ‘friends’ agreed more that others had better lives.
That pervasive, undermining effect isn’t the result of one incident or one bully, it’s the ‘background noise’ that we’re all creating and we’re all exposed to.
Let’s change the tune!
4. Log out
It’s easy to get wrapped up in what everyone else wants – when our phones aren’t ringing, beeping and vibrating, our screens are covered in an ambient pox of unread email counts, icons, pop-ups and push notifications telling us that everyone wants a piece of us.
Take control of your life by focusing on what matters and being deliberate in your actions.
Put every activity in its proper place according to your priorities. When you’re ready to chat, read some email or catch up with friends, log in to do that. And when you’re done, log out.
It makes life a little less convenient but sometimes a hump in road is just what you need to help you slow down. Create a barrier that says “do you really want to do this?”
Logging out doesn’t just check our FOMO, it beefs up our privacy and security too.
If you make a habit of logging out of things then sites like Facebook and Twitter won’t track you, and you stop dead in their tracks a whole category of scams and vulnerabilities that rely on us being logged in without realizing.
And all that with a single click.