6 Ways To Perfectly Secure Yourself Online

Online security is no joke. More and more of our data is being stolen, bought, then sold by hackers and big corporations alike. In this day and age, data about us is even more valuable than the products we are purchasing, as it allows companies to learn about their target market. 

Online vulnerabilities also mean that your credit card information, address, family names, and more are sometimes leaked to hackers. This is dangerous, as identity theft becomes more common online, leading to loss of finance and other nasty things. With all that in mind, below we have six tips for helping you stay secure online. 

1. Use A VPN

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are handy little tools for keeping yourself secure online. In fact, it’s the first thing that Josh, an online security blogger over at All Things Secured recommends. He says that “After using a VPN for the last decade to access the internet, I can safely say it’s one of the key tools needed to protect your identity online.” VPNs create a secure connection – which could be anywhere else in the world – to mask your actual IP address, location, and web traffic. This means that many experienced hackers won’t even be able to tell where you are logging on to the net from, or what you are looking at. This is, therefore, such a great way of protecting your data.

2. Password Managers

One of the biggest issues with personal security online is the use of simple, repeated passwords. Using a maiden name, a row of numbers, or a simple word from your life is simply not secure enough. Instead, we are recommended to use combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters. 

Many secure passwords look something like “xpV9s-4jKwW-2azxp-9l2L5”. This is obviously super hard to remember. However, with a password manager app, you can store all these complicated passwords behind either a face ID, thumbprint, or another special password only you know. This means your passwords are secure and you can never forget them. The app can also track any data breaches your password may have been exposed to.

3. Double-Blind Password Storage

To take this to the next level, you could even use double-blind storage. By this, we mean that you don’t even store the full password in your password manager app. You always replace the last few characters with a special code only you know. In the example from above, the last few keys recorded would be “-9l” leaving the “2L5” in one place only: your brain. This works if you change all passwords to end with the same special key, so even your app doesn’t have full records of your passwords.

4. Use Two-Factor Authentication

A two-factor authentication is a clever tool where you will need to prove your identity on two devices before being allowed to log onto an app or into an account. This works by linking devices such as tablets, laptops, and phones to one account. Then, if you try to log in somewhere new, a message will pop up saying that you need to validate this login attempt on one of your other devices. The system will then either provide you with a code to enter, a call to verify, or simply a yes/no button to push on your other device, validating that it is you and you trust this login attempt.

5. Identity Monitoring

There are also apps that can help track your identity. Again, these apps themselves are hyper-secured, so there’s little-to-no risk of data breaches here. These apps will track the internet for traces of your personal data being used in any fraudulent or malicious way, alerting you if they find such activity. This means any breaches or sales of your personal data can be caught and hopefully stopped in their tracks.

6. Secure Email

Believe it or not, many of our favorite and most-used email providers have suffered security breaches. In 2019, for example, it was discovered that 770 million email addresses and passwords had been exposed –crazy numbers! So, how do you know if your email is secure? Well, you just have to find out! Different email companies have different encryption and security standards. These can differ quite wildly. But, for most users, any of the main email account companies, such as Gmail, will be secure enough if you take advantage of their advanced protection settings.

These are our top six tips for staying secure online, all of which can be worked on from today. There is no need to delay in getting started on these, as your personal data is very important and valuable. Get secure online ASAP.

Expert Tips for Choosing the Right VPN

A VPN can be used for a variety of reasons, from use within your personal/home life, to use within your business and work life. No two VPN providers offer the same packages and because of this, it can make your decision a little more tricky. Choosing a VPN needs to be done once you have researched the market and once you have established exactly what it is that you want. If you are not aware of what is out there then it is wise to browse the market first and foremost. Once you have done browsing you will be able to compile a list of must-haves. So, what must-haves do you need – Is speed important, is server location essential?

How To Get The Right VPN – The Considerations

With a VPN provider, there are lots of other things you still need to consider. From cost and coverage to reliability and usability. With so many choices out there it can feel a little bit overwhelming so it is best to use VPNBrains who can, and will narrow down your choices to ensure that you get the right VPN for your personal use and business use. Comparing providers ensures you get the best value for money too! In addition to comparing providers you can also establish which VPN is right for you by considering the following:

Security And Protection On Offer

Not all VPNs offer the same level of security. For example, some cannot guarantee top-level security in certain countries. If security is one of the main reasons you want to use a VPN, for example, you want to use a public or shared computer but you don’t want to share your data and information, or, you want to browse websites with added security behind you then it is crucial you check the VPNs security offer. If they don’t highlight how good their security offering is then it is probably best to look elsewhere.

Price Monthly Or Annually

If affordability is a consideration you need to think about how you can pay and when you can pay. Some providers only accept PayPal or Payoneer. Is this right for you and your lifestyle. Some providers demand an annual subscription – Can you afford this. Price consideration is important as paying month by month can also end up costing you more in the long run. It is also wise to track prices for a few days as lots of well-known VPN providers change their prices, even by a few cents every so often to attract new custom.

Reviews and Recommendations

What other users are saying and how they are reacting to a brand is important. Pay attention to the customer service that they provide, and pay attention to how quickly issues get resolved. For example, if you have an issue will they resolve it quickly or will you be paying full subscription costs for a while until they can be bothered to rectify any issues you may be experiencing. Some reviews can be fake and malicious, so it is important to have your guard up when using reviews. Also, on the flip side, there can be fake reviews stating how good a VPN is, when it is a load of rubbish, so watch out for this too. Doing due diligence and utilizing a few recommendation and review websites will ensure that you don’t get caught out.

Usage Within Your Country

This sounds simple enough right, but in reality, not all VPNs work in your country or provide adequate servers for you to use. Choice and selection are important when choosing a VPN. Everyone deserves a good selection for their subscription price and if you are not getting it, or you are not going to get it within your country then look for another provider. If a provider offers limited coverage within your country of use then you will quickly be left feeling frustrated and annoyed. Coverage and quality are important especially when purchasing annual subscriptions so always check the terms and conditions before signing up and parting with any money, and, of course, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible.

A few days of research and use of comparison websites should be all that you need to ensure you choose the right VPN provider for you. Remember to ensure the site is legitimate and authentic before paying for any services as there are lots of fakes out there who look very similar to the real thing, and once you have parted with your money it can be very difficult to reclaim, so, always ensure you use real and trusted sites no matter what.

8 Cyber Security Best Practices For Your Small Business

There is a dangerously incorrect mindset that is common amongst small business owners and that is the idea that they are virtually immune to cybercriminals on account of there being ‘not much to steal’.

The reality is that, according to the U.S. Congressional Small Business Committee, 71% of cyber attacks occur upon businesses with fewer than 100 employees. More concerning still, is that a State of SMB CyberSecurity Report found that as much as 50% of all small businesses had experienced a security breach in that past year.

But why is this? Almost all cyber attacks are designed to procure personal data to be used for identity or credit card theft. According to CSO.com, it is the less-secure networks that are commonplace in small businesses that make them ideal targets. Those looking to automate attacks can breach potentially thousands of small businesses in much less time than larger targets.

Without an IT security specialist at your disposal, what can you do to prevent your small business from falling victim to a cyber attack? Here are 8 best cyber security practices you can immediately implement to better protect your business.

1. Install a firewall

The Federal Communications Commision (FCC) recommends that all small-medium businesses install a firewall to create a barrier between cybercriminals and sensitive business data. In addition to external firewalls, many companies are now also setting up internal firewalls for added protection. It is also sometimes overlooked that employees who work from home require a home network firewall as well, so consider providing support and firewall software for your employee’s home networks to ensure comprehensive compliance.

2. Document your cybersecurity protocols

No matter how intuitively or informally you run your small business, one area that is essential to document is that of cybersecurity policies. On-line training is available through the Small Business Administration (SBA) Cybersecurity portal, including checklists and general information on protecting businesses that operate online. Consider utilizing the FCC’s Cyber Planner 2.0 to help you to create your security document and also investing in Security Information and Event Management to spot and respond to security incidents.

Additionally, the C3 Voluntary Program for Small Businesses includes a detailed toolkit for deciding upon and documenting the cybersecurity best practices for your business.

3. Don’t overlook mobile devices

According to the Tech Pro Research BYOD, Wearables and IoT, as many as 59% of businesses cater for employees to use their own devices, so it’s imperative to incorporate this risk into your security plan. With wearables such as smart watches increasing in popularity, it is important to include these devices within a security policy. Norton recommends the requirement of all employees to set up automatic security updates and ensure that the business’s password policy be applied to all mobile devices that have access to the network.

4. Prioritize employee education

Small businesses often require employees to wear many hats, making it all the more essential that they are all adequately trained on the business’s network cyber security policies.

As cybercriminals become savvier, it’s imperative to regularly review and update your security protocols. For employee accountability, ensure that each employee has read a company handback and signs an acknowledgement document stating that they have received and understood the policies, as well as the consequences of not correctly following them.

5. Ensure safe password practices are upheld

According to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 63% of data breaches occurred as a result of weak, lost, or stolen passwords. In today’s BYOD (bring your own device) world, it’s more essential than ever to ensure that all employee devices that access the business network are password protected and that original wifi codes are also changed. 

It is recommended that all employees ideally be required to use passwords that incorporate upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols – and that small businesses enforce that all passwords be changed every 60 – 90 days.

6. Backup all data regularly

No matter how well protected we are from cyber attacks, it is still possible to be breached, so protecting your data from loss is vital. It is recommended that you backup databases, word-processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, financial files and accounting records regularly and keep them in a safe, separate location in case of flood or fire. Be sure to back all of your data up in the cloud for maximum protection, too.

7. Utilize multi-factor identification

Regardless of your security preparation, at some stage it is likely that an employee will make a mistake that compromises your data. Using multi-factor identification settings is easy to do on most network and email products and provides an added layer of protection. A solid choice is to use an employee’s cell phone number as a secondary identification form, as it is unlikely that a cybercriminal would have access to both the password and the PIN.

8. Install anti-malware software

While one hopes that all employees know never to open phishing emails, reports indicate that a considerable percentage still do. Phishing attacks are designed to install malware onto devices when the unknown link is clicked, so installing anti-malware onto both the business network and all accessing devices is essential.

Cyber criminals advance in their security-breaching skills every day, making the effective security of your business data an ever-moving target. It is essential that you train your employees to prioritize cyber security and that you stay ahead of the latest trends when it comes to new forms of attack and emerging technologies that prevent cybercrime. The longevity of your business may depend on it.