Now we use the internet to such an extent we need to make sure our details and browsing history is safe and secure.
What are Cookies and what do they do?
Cookies are used to track our browsing history and are used by companies to target advertising based of our searches. In some instances, this is useful as it shows us alternatives to our original search, very handy when trying to think of original Christmas or Birthday presents. However, sometimes browsing without being tracked is preferable.
Incognito mode and alternative browsers
It is possible to do this by using the Incognito mode built-in to most Browsers. You can of course also reject Cookies when prompted as you arrive on most sites these days.
There are also alternative browsers which effectively wrap your searches up in layers of encryption and then bounce them via random servers before arriving at the desired destination. Some examples of these types of Browser are TOR or Epic Browser.
ISP’s (your internet service provider) are also guilty of monitoring your search queries by logging your searches and data before it arrives at the destination server. They can also see who texted you, although they don’t usually keep the actual message.
Secure your traffic with a VPN
To make your browsing secure the best solution is a VPN. This is where you create an encrypted link to a server, thereby stopping anyone’s ability to see your traffic.
As we know people are being caught out by unscrupulous people hacking open (free) wifi networks (hotels, trains, coffee shops, airports etc) and seeing and logging all connected user’s data and passwords.
This is a relatively simple thing to do as there are products readily available on the internet which attach to an open wifi network and collect data. So, if you are attached to one of these networks and are sending emails or logging into sites using passwords, all this is being tracked and saved by these devices for use at a later time. It also gives these people the opportunity to install some software onto your laptop that records your key strokes and will continue to send this information to the person long after you have left the particular open wifi.
By using a VPN, you can still use the open wifi but once attached you run the VPN which creates a secure, encrypted tunnel and does not allow anyone to see anything that you are doing.
The VPNs are relatively cheap and range from £5 to £8 per month. We have started to use both ExpressVPN and NordVPN which have excellent reviews. The ability to use an open wifi securely whilst travelling is a huge relief.
Keep your passwords strong
Always remember your passwords are the last line of defence for your data, whether it is the password to access your laptop or your online services.
Changing your password regularly is a good idea, but they must be secure and should include upper and lower case, numbers and where possible symbols. Check this link to see how secure your password really is: howsecureismypassword.net.
Human error is still the main vulnerability
Finally, beware of phishing attacks. No amount of VPNs, incognito modes or secure passwords will protect you against phishing. These are emails which are sent out to many individuals in an attempt to scam people into sending them money. Some claim they have recorded you looking at porn or you have been sent a Tax rebate. These are hoping you will click on the link provided and trigger either a virus or key logging software.
Some are very sophisticated and combine details of your work and possibly the business you do. The aim being to scam money by asking you to change (or update) your banking details etc. Anything that looks or feels wrong usually is. If in doubt, call the company the email supposedly came from or delete it. If it's important, they will be back in touch.
Use these tips mixed with a good degree of common sense and hopefully you will not be the victim of cyber-crime.
As a Director of Optima Systems Ltd Jay is responsible for overseeing Sales and Marketing, Human Resources, Customer Relations and Account Management. In addition, Jay is responsible for the design, development, efficiency and smooth running of the IT Networks of our clients, as well as our own technical infrastructure. More about Jay.
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