Yes, it is! Most users today have moved into a completely different and fast-paced phase, where they are inclined to spend almost 80% of their time online.
With the number of users on the internet today- be it to look up pictures of food or downloading gaming apps, it is so important to take active precautionary measures, even if it’s for simple online browsing. Have you any idea of the kind of web threats today? This guide will show you an abridged version of all you need to more about safe online browsing and the kind of threats to stay clear of.
What are online or cyber-threats?
Cybersecurity gurus today teach us that the most vulnerable cyber threats are often from simple browsing. It is basically because majority of the public isn’t quite aware of how cyber-attacks occur, or how to prevent them.
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It’s no shame to not know even the basics, mostly because most of us weren’t taught about what online vulnerabilities were some years ago. This is why simple online guides in laymen language is the best bet for you to start learning about them in small portions.
So, if you’re wondering what online or cyber-threats are, they’re basically vulnerabilities or risks that occur online. It can cause an undesirable event or risk to your personal information, files on your device, or even insert malicious Trojans on your device.
There is not one kind of cyber-threat, but a couple of categories of it. Most cyber-threats occur due to end-user vulnerabilities. It means, you aren’t aware of how to take care of your online security not on purpose but by lack of awareness. It can range from poorly used security software, leaking out sensitive data on public social platforms like Facebook, or even to do with your internet service provider not providing adequate safety measures.
Regardless of the cause, the end result always varies in how much damage a cyber-attack can cause. Take a look below to get a small idea on what kind of online threats exist – be it through network flaws or internet-based:
- Personal or Private Network threats which can be caused on the home WiFi, or any vulnerable Ethernet network, intranets and others.
- DoS attacks, short for Denial of Service attacks prevent users from accessing their device or the network itself.
- Host threats target your personal device or any corporate endpoint network. It could be your computer, your smartphone or tablet. It mostly occurs during online gaming.
- Phishing attacks are the most common kind of cybersecurity risks. It’s when the perpetrator either impersonates or tricks users into complying to certain requests. They can pretend to be someone authoritative from our bank, and ask you to send in your email, bank codes or more. It is just one sample of it. There are so many other kinds of phishing scams prevalent that happen without you even thinking twice.
- Pharming is another kind of phishing attempt, where rogue websites are created to only get users to fill in their personal and credit information. It could be any website pretending to be an authentic source, but is only active to achieve all details entered voluntarily into the system.
- Malicious apps or software are downloaded without any thought. There are numerous apps on the web store that it gets difficult to choose the best or most reliable one. It can be a media app, a photo cropping tool or a security software. Always go through honest and raw reviews on multiple sources before downloading apps that can be malicious.
What precautionary measures can be adopted to promote safe online browsing?
Just as there are many online or cyber-threats, there are still equally efficient methods you can adopt for safer or secure online browsing. Here are a few:
· Get a reliable VPN software
There are many VPN services available on the internet, and as you’ve probably come across a couple, there are still a lot that could cause harm online or on your device. Make sure you look up reliable sources and settle for a top VPN service.
It will help with added security and online protection. Many reliable VPNs also come with browser extensions to enable safer surfing. It will encrypt online traffic, and pass all web-data through a secure tunnel. With a VPN software enabled, you will have way more perks than just protecting your device, your physical location and online privacy. You will be able to also access geo-restricted services, access local bank apps safely while on the go, or get cheaper airline tickets.
· Make sure you enable the “do not track mode” on your browser
Today, almost all websites track users and store their data. It is actually quite alarming, especially since some websites require you to access personal information while online shopping. If you’re not up for using a VPN for all round protection, you could try a simpler method by just enabling the “do not track” in your browser settings.
However, this option is not always a 100% reliable, as in the end, it’s always the websites choice with what information they’re willing to track, which is why a VPN is a better choice.
· Run regular updates
Whether you’re using an app, or going through a website on your browser, everything needs to be updated. If ever you’re prompted to update a software or to update a browser plug-in, do it.
Older versions of anything are susceptible to cyberattacks, being vulnerable. It is why app developers or browsers recommend it. It leaves the door to attacks open, which is why hackers mostly target older versions of apps, especially taking into consideration the WhatsApp issue.
· Use an Ad-blocker
If you’re already using a VPN and it doesn’t offer an ad-blocker, install a separate tool or get another VPN that offers the option. Most ads often are the root cause of malware, viruses, or phishing attempts. The amount of pop-ups one receives in a day are unaccounted for. Most users aren’t aware that these ads are an attempt to trap you. It offers the best deals or the best offers that are hard to resist, causing the user to click on it. Some ads immediately cause a reaction of malware to take over your system, while others take a slower toll.
· Try incognito mode
Incognito mode is not just for private browsing, but is a way to avoid a website from tracking you. It also gives you the privacy from your internet service provider, as almost all of them are inclined to track your activities. Plus, if ever someone is using your device after you, it gives you the chance to keep your search history private.
· Clear all cookies and cache
We’ve discussed using the do not track mode, but clearing out your cookies and cache are another way to dismiss trails of information behind. Cookies here, are like literal crumbs of your data. It’s especially important to clear them out when you’re trying to access a geo-restricted streaming service like Netflix. It leaves your physical location anonymous while connected to a VPN software. If without a VPN, it still is a better safety practice.
Safe online browsing should be a daily practice, especially using the tips provided above. There are a lot of online threats apart from the mentioned list that you need to stay clear of. Of course, not everyone will get on the safe track immediately, which is why starting small is one step in the right direction.