Cybercriminals are not only focusing on enterprises and SMBs but also targeting individual end-users like you.

Open Firefox Monitor, enter your email ID and see if it was the part of any data breach. You may be shocked to find your email ID featuring in multiple security breaches.

Phishing, vishing, pharming, ransomware, crypto-jacking – there are more versions of cybercrimes than you’d care to count.

The solution – understand and follow the five proven effective rules of cyber safety.

1- Take Passwords Seriously, Very Seriously

It’s unfair, though realistic, that a seemingly meaningless leaked string of characters could literally ruin your life. Your password is your first line of defense to protect your online identity.

Sadly, 86% of passwords are ‘terrible’. Using brute-force techniques, cybercriminals can try out millions of passwords within minutes. This means that if you’re using a password that’s in the mega list of half a billion compromised passwords, you are running a big risk.

The best practice – Never reuse a password across different websites. Build a ‘formula’ of setting up a password, which ensures that you use some combination of characters from the website name to build your password. This practice ensures you can confidently create a new password for each website, without the fear of having to remember them all.

Use a service such as Have I Been Pwned to find out whether your email ID has been compromised in a data security breach, which could have revealed your password.

2- Invest time, money, and effort in enhancing your awareness

You won’t combat what you don’t understand. The cybersecurity landscape is evolving and changing at a breakneck pace. Evaluate your stakes, understand the level of expertise you need, and be prepared to invest your resources accordingly.

If you’re a business owner or enterprise decision-maker, enroll yourself in personalized cybersecurity training, awareness, and readiness programs. If you’re a freelancer, student, web enthusiast, subscribe to newsletters from cybersecurity blogs to remain in the know-how of the latest threats.

3- Always use a VPN while browsing the web

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) hide your web identity, thereby enabling you to browse the Internet while remaining protected from cybercriminals.

VPNs offer several other benefits:

  • They ensure your information is encrypted, which saves you from the risks of data theft.
  • VPNs let you unblock websites that may be restricted because of your geographic location, and bypass content filters.
  • If you need an IP from a specific country, a VPN can help you with that. Take NordVPN for example, which lets you access content from any country, with its 5112+ servers located in 59 countries.

And you don’t even have to spend a lot. Use proven effective tips to save money while using Internet, and still remaining fully secure. Several VPN service providers offer you free trials, which means you can experiment with a lot of them, and only need to pay once you know you’ve found something suitable and affordable.

4- Don’t download anything from a website or content provider whom you don’t trust

There’s simply way too much at stake! Ransomware attacks are perpetrated via malware that runs on the victim computer terminal, because it’s cloaked under a seemingly harmless and safe program. Phishing attacks, which attempt to get the end-users to download malware on their computers, are on the rise.

  • For computer programs, always download executable files from the software developer’s official page or a credible app store.
  • For media, go for streaming services rather than shady online databases of downloadable files.
  • Always keep your anti-malware software up to date and running.

5- Be careful what you post

Cybersecurity related laws such as GDPR (European Union) and CCPA (California) try to empower Internet users to control and own their information and content online. However, the golden rule of staying safe from online bullies and blackmailers is to never post anything that may reveal more than you intend, or come back to haunt you years later.

Even though it’s possible (and mandatory) for all online channels to delete your content should you wish so, you don’t have any control over the copies someone else may have created. With image recognition technology growing mature by the day it’s possible for anyone to:

  • Upload a person’s image.
  • Find out all images in the public web related to the person.
  • Use the information to either carry out advanced social engineering attacks, or to hoard information for the purpose of blackmailing or misrepresenting anything in the future.

Parting Thoughts

Cyber safety is a continuous journey. Naturally, there won’t be an exhaustive list of best practices that will keep you safe. The five practices we’ve covered in this guide will help you remain safe and secure against the most commonly perpetrated cyber attacks.

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