Almost everything we do now is online – working, learning, banking, shopping, catching up on the news, and the list goes on. Even the most basic functions of our lives depend on the internet because it’s SO convenient. On the other side, cyber criminals are conveniently lurking to target vulnerable folks so they can gain access to personal information and sensitive data. So, how do you protect yourself when browsing online? Here are top five ways to improve web security:

1. Only Use Safe And Secure Passwords 

It’s hard to keep track of passwords. The most obvious thing on your mind might be to write them down somewhere or save them on a digital notepad to your desktop. If you must save them on your computer, make sure they’re in a password protected folder, and of course, make sure the password for that folder differs from the ones you’re storing in the folder. An even better option is to use a secure password manager if you have too many passwords to handle 

As a rule of thumb, don’t use real names, names of pets, or words and phrases that are easily identifiable. Change your passwords regularly and set a reminder to do so, at least once a quarter. 

2. Use Two-Factor Authentication

Also known as a two-step verification process, a two-factor authentication (2FA), is a double user verification process many websites offer to login. This gives you an extra layer of security to access your online accounts. Websites like Amazon, Google, Twitter and WhatsApp offer this extra layer of protection. 

Anytime you log in, the site registers your computer and sends your phone a text with a code to enter. This way, if a hacker has access to your online password, they still need your phone to log in. 

3. Keep Your Web Browser Up To Date

There are many web browsers to explore the internet; Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, to name a few. Browsers constantly update on their own, but there may be times when you need to manually run an update. Go to your browser’s settings and check if the latest version is running. If not, the browser will give you the option to install. Make sure you also turn on automatic updates for your browser. Also, see if your browser offers an incognito or private browser mode to improve web security. 

4. Don’t Click on Pop Ups

It’s common to come across pop ups as you peruse different sites on the internet. Though some sites may appear legitimate, that’s not always the case. One of the most common pop ups say something like ‘your PC is infected and you must click on the pop up to scan or install antivirus software.’ In reality, this is a common spyware tactic hackers use to get you to download a virus. If you come across something like this, don’t click on it and exit the site. 

5. Secure Your Home Network

When you buy a new Wi-Fi router, it will most likely come with a standard name like Netgear. Change the default name and password to something unique that doesn’t give away who you are. You want to make it difficult for hackers to identify you. Take the extra step and turn on your wireless network encryption. Encryption essentially scrambles the data sent between your device and website servers so hackers can’t read it. WPA2 is usually the most secure encryption you can use.

You can also use a VPN. VPN stands for virtual private network, allowing you to connect to a secure third-party server and network so your web browsing is secure. Read our blog post about VPNs to understand how they work. 

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