#By Sophia Ofuokwu
The internet is widely used and our lives have almost become completely cyber-based. Like everything in the world today, the internet has its good and bad parts. How informative and fun it is, and the potential victimization and theft of data are good and bad parts of the internet. There have been cases where people lose certain positions or opportunities due to the exposure of their internet activities. The risks of internet usage keep growing every day. Thousands of users have careless internet habits that have exposed them to fraudsters and cyber attacks. Whether you have limited internet usage, fraudsters are still trying to get your private information and are developing new ways to achieve that. Sometimes just downloading an app could be a very risky move if you are not careful. For that reason, in this article, I will be talking about how you can be Cyber-aware. It is being security conscious in the cyber world and we will be looking at some steps to take to secure your data and internet space.
The first step in being cyber secure after knowing the risks of the internet is to keep your personal information confidential.
Most organizations or potential employers do not need Information like where you live, your BVN number, and your PayPal password. If you would feel uncomfortable giving out these information to a stranger, do not place it on the internet where the whole world could see. On this note, learn to keep private details private!
You need to learn the act of keeping your privacy settings on.
A lot can be learnt about you from your browsing and social media usage. If you do not want hackers to get information on you this way, you have to learn to keep your privacy settings on. You can do this by using the settings available by both mobile operating systems and web browsers to protect your privacy while online. These settings are mostly hard to find because companies want your personal information for their marketing value. You must have noticed that it seems Google is aware of your preferences when they popup ads for you. On your android phone, you can manage your privacy settings by following these steps.
• Open the chrome app
• To the right of the address bar you would see three dots, tap it.
• Scroll down until you see advanced and click on privacy. You can then choose what you want gone and make adjustments according to your preferences.
Note that when you click on ‘clear browsing data’, you would find a bar for saved passwords and you would get to see how many passwords you have saved using Google. Changes can be made accordingly.
Choose strong passwords. The importance of passwords cannot be overemphasized when talking about data/internet safety. Passwords are a way of gaining access to information along with Recaptcha and usernames/email addresses. Passwords are a weak spot in the internet security structure and it is mainly because of our lax approach to them. We get lazy when it comes to creating passwords because almost every site we register in needs a password. A lot of us are guilty of using the same password for different sites because they are easy to remember. Passwords that are easy to remember and seem to save us the stress of trying to remember them are also easy for hackers to guess. Passwords like ‘0000’, ‘Password’ or the name of the site the password is for, are very common passwords and hence very dangerous. We tend to hate it when we are requested to create a strong password containing uppercase letters, numbers and symbols because then, we need to create something complex and are expected to remember it. I have clicked on the option ‘Forgot password?’ more times than I can count and that is the case with most of us. Using Google to save your passwords for you could prove very helpful when you have forgotten one and do not want to have to check your email to reset it. There are software that let you write down your passwords and can help provide it when you need it to, but you have to be safe when downloading one; it could be a ploy of a hacker to get access to all your data.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a piece of software that creates a secure internet connection, which allows you to connect safely from anywhere.
Using a secure VPN connection is one way to stay safe online. Whenever you are in a public space and you get tempted to use the free public WIFI, think twice. If you do not have a secure VPN connection, and you have doubts about the environment and safety of your data, wait for a time when you will be able to connect to a secure network WIFI before giving out information like your bank account number. Endpoints are the places a private network meets the outside world. Endpoints are vulnerable and open to threats when connected to an unsecured network. Since you do not have control over the security of a public WIFI connection, your privacy could be compromised if you do not use a secure VPN connection.
Be careful about what you post online.
You must have come across the saying; the internet never forgets. You must know that even if you delete all your pictures or posts, you can never be certain that they have been permanently deleted since you cannot track and delete any copies anyone else makes. Therefore, whenever you are about to post something in the heat of the moment, think of the future and the likelihood of you being okay with the picture or rant in the presence of a potential employer.
Learn to keep your antivirus up to date. You may feel like you do not need any protection other than having strong passwords and secure network connection but there is more. To keep your data completely free from harm, you need to take all necessary precautionary steps. An antivirus provides security for your data. They do so by detecting and removing most viruses but you must keep them updated to get maximum security and avoid being blindsided.
Learn to make online purchases from secure sites.
This is for your own good because anytime you make a purchase online, your bank account information is needed and giving out that type of information on unsecure sites is fatal. When checking for how secure a site is, make sure to see if the address in the address bar starts with https or has a padlock icon next to it. The ‘S’ in https stands for secure and you would find that unsecure sites have a warning sign next to the address bar too. Sometimes, especially when you have set your Google security that way, Google will hinder your access to a site with a warning that the site is not secure and should not be trusted. Learn to heed the warning.
I hope with the above tips we will learn to combat many potential cyber attacks and keep the internet safe.