Most of us rely on apps daily. From online shopping, navigation, and entertainment to conducting business and staying in touch with friends and family, apps help us perform countless tasks.
However, that convenience comes at a price. Apps feature trackers, and many have software vulnerabilities that restless cybercriminals keep exploiting. Your personal and sensitive information could get into the wrong hands, wreaking havoc on your privacy and security.
With that in mind, let’s explore the critical aspects of digital security and the essential steps for protecting your data.
Your digital security is as strong as your passwords. If you use your name, birth date, address, or anything similar that a potential hacker could guess easily, you risk compromising your accounts.
A strong password is a string of random lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols and should be longer than eight characters. Otherwise, savvy hackers could crack it without a sweat.
It’s vital to change your passwords regularly and never reuse them. Using the same one for multiple accounts could compromise all of them if anyone cracks it. However, it can be challenging, if not impossible, to remember all your accounts’ credentials.
That’s where password managers come in. They store login credentials in a secure vault that only a master password can open. They can even generate complex passwords for all connected accounts so that users don’t have to remember them.
If an unauthorized user gains access to an account, it changes the credentials, locks them out, and keeps doing so until they give up.
Every app requires specific permissions to operate after installation. However, many ask for data they don’t need, and that’s a huge red flag. Therefore, you need to know how to manage app permissions.
Let’s say you install a fitness app, and it asks for permission to access your location, contact list, or media. Why would that app need such data to help you stay fit? The best thing to do would be to uninstall it because it might run a malicious program in the background.
You can check that for all your apps by monitoring your battery usage after installation. If your battery drains unusually fast after installing an app, and sometimes even after uninstalling it, it might have infected your phone with malware or spyware.
Be extra careful with app permissions to avoid this issue. If you suspect a malware problem, find a licensed professional to scan your device and remove the malicious file or code.
It’s crucial to keep your software up to date to keep your devices and apps operating seamlessly and protect your data. Software patches come with bug fixes for better performance and address various security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
That’s why you shouldn’t postpone software updates. The best step is to keep them automatic so that you don’t have to check for updates and risk compromising your security if you don’t do it on time.
Remember to download apps only from official sources — Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Google and Apple vet all apps before publishing them on their respective marketplaces, so they’re your best chance for avoiding malware, spyware, ransomware, and other malicious software. Unofficial platforms may not be so secure.
Social media platforms track users’ online activity (even from connected external sites) and harvest personal information. They create detailed profiles consisting of people’s photos, likes, dislikes, opinions, political views, religious beliefs, and other data, including deleted pictures and other content.
Your data helps social channels display personalized ads and other content, but the problem is that numerous third parties have access to that data for advertising purposes. A data breach could expose it and leave you vulnerable to scams, identity theft, and other digital security risks.
Social media offer numerous benefits, but their privacy invasion makes you rethink if compromising your privacy and security is worth the convenience. Thus, you should disable personalized ads whenever possible. Many services now offer this to their users.
Public Wi-Fi is one of the most convenient wireless technologies ever to see the light of day. However, it’s not as secure as you may think.
Public Wi-Fi hotspots typically don’t use proper encryption, so anyone could snoop on you and even gain access to your device. They could secretly lead you into fake websites, get your usernames and passwords, and steal or misuse your data.
Many hackers even set up fake hotspots that resemble genuine networks to use them for their criminal gain.
That’s why you should always use a reliable Virtual Private network. It will encrypt your internet connection (even over public Wi-Fi) and safeguard your data. After you download VPN and connect to servers, the service masks your IP address. Additionally, it hides your online activity and even bypasses geo-restrictions and censorship. Say you would like to access local content in Germany. Then, VPN servers in Germany will help you mask your IP address and evade geo-blocks on regional services.
Enhancing your digital security means keeping your personal and sensitive information away from prying eyes. So, take the steps above, and don’t compromise your privacy, security, and safety for the online world’s convenience.