More and more people are becoming aware of the risks you run if you use the internet unprotected. In addition to Phishing emails , viruses and rogue websites, unprotected networks are also becoming a bigger problem. Your bank details and passwords are captured in a devious manner, often without your knowledge.
Fortunately, after completing the following 8 simple steps, you are protected against the biggest culprits on the internet. Many of these tips are suitable for computers, tablets and smartphones. That way you no longer have to worry about your online security, regardless of which device you are on.
Below you will find a detailed explanation for each step in this step-by-step plan.
Update your operating system
When companies like Microsoft or Android release a new version of an operating system, this is usually intended to close security gaps. Older operating systems such as Windows XP or old Android versions are no longer always updated. This creates security leaks in these systems. Hackers and other malicious people abuse these security breaches to damage your computer or to steal your personal information. It is therefore very important to always keep your operating system up-to-date.
To check if your system is up-to-date you can check the settings of your computer. You can find these settings in 3 simple steps:
- Click on the Windows logo in the lower left corner of your computer’s taskbar;
- Click on the gearwheel with the label ‘Settings’;
- Click on “Update and security”.
If you have an older version of Windows, this may look a bit different. Windows 10 automatically updates the operating system, so if you use this you don’t have to worry about this. With older versions of operating systems you can often activate the option at the settings to allow automatic updating. This is also stated at the settings and ensures that you no longer have to worry about this. We do, however, recommend checking once in a while whether your operating system is actually up-to-date.
Always use a good virus scanner
It is always important to use a good virus scanner. Nowadays most antivirus software is so well developed that you are not only viruses but also protected against harmful files, malware and sometimes even malicious websites. Because it is also very easy to install and you do not notice it, it is a good step to guarantee your online security.
We recommend Bitdefender ourselves as a virus scanner. Bitdefender invariably comes out best in the tests of various comparison websites. Bitdefender is also very easy to use and you will not notice any consequences in the speed of your computer. You can visit Bitdefender by clicking on the following button.
Use a firewall
A firewall protects a computer to a certain extent against, for example, viruses , worms , trojans or hacker attacks . Firewalls, as it were, scan what comes in on your computer and identify whether this is harmful or not. If something is harmful, the file is stopped.
The newer Windows computers are already equipped with a standard firewall. It is important to check whether your firewall is actually on. You can do this by looking at the settings of your computer. With a Windows 10 computer you can find this by typing ‘firewall’ at the search bar in your settings. Make sure your firewall is always on.
It is also possible that you have installed a different firewall yourself. Many companies that specialize in online security such as Norton, Kaspersky and Bitdefender offer their own firewall. If you have a firewall from such a party, you can use it. For this you often have to turn off the Windows firewall.
Use a VPN
In addition to protecting your computer, it is also important to protect your internet connection. Wi-Fi networks, especially public ones, are not always secure. The internet in hotels in particular is very unsafe, but there are also risks associated with an unsecured, regular internet connection at home. This way, these networks can often be reached and misused by others.
In addition, websites build a profile of you as a visitor, based on the pages you visit. This data is then sold to other companies, or sometimes even malicious parties. This can also be used for identity fraud, for example. Fortunately, you can secure your connection with the help of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) . This also keeps you anonymous.
With a VPN connection, your internet traffic runs through a secure ‘VPN tunnel’ , to which nobody from outside can easily access. Your data is encrypted so that even if it is intercepted, it cannot be read. That way you can do risk-free internet banking or arrange your tax affairs, wherever you are. A VPN works on all devices that are connected to the internet. So whether you are on your computer, tablet or smartphone, you can secure your connection with a VPN.
The VPNs that we would recommend are NordVPN. ExpressVPN and PureVPN is extremely suitable for the online user who is looking for ease of use customer service. NordVPN is more for the price-conscious consumer. these VPNs are extremely user-friendly and offer excellent security.
We would not be a VPN guide if we did not briefly explain how to install a VPN:
- Take out a subscription and create an account on the website of a VPN provider. We would advise you to use PureVPN or NordVPN.
- Download the software from the website of this VPN provider (note, do not simply download software from another website). If you want to install the VPN on your phone (for example, to improve your security on public networks), you can do so by downloading an app from the App Store or Google Play Store.
- Install the VPN by opening the downloaded file. Follow the steps on the installation screen to complete the installation.
- After the VPN software has been installed you must open the VPN and log in to activate it. You do this by double clicking on the installed VPN program (this is usually on your desktop) and entering your previously created account information. You only need to log in once per device.
- After you have logged in you can switch on the VPN . You do this with the help of a clear ‘on’ button that you will see when you open the VPN program.
- If you have switched on the VPN you can open your browser and use the internet as you always do . Your connection is protected in the background, which you will not notice.
Stay on your guard
With the above steps you can secure your computer and your internet connection very well. But you must not forget to always pay attention. Many hackers try to mask themselves as well as possible. This means that they present themselves as one of your contacts or trusted websites. That way you as a user think that everything is right, but if you pay attention to the small things you will see that it cannot be trusted anyway. Some common ways that hackers try to get your data are:
Phishing is a scam method where, through fake emails and fake chat messages on social media, others try to convince you to send data or money to them. Cyber criminals often do this in the form of a fake e-mail from your bank or, for example, an extortion e-mail. These emails can often be recognized by language errors, an unusual sending address or the fact that they ask you to send them your personal information. Always carefully consider whether it is logical for you to receive this e-mail and if you do not trust it, you can contact your bank or ask whether someone else can also check whether the message can be trusted.
Free software with built-in misery (malware, spyware)
Although you can get a lot of good free software nowadays, it is important to be aware that you don’t just download something from a website that you don’t know. Always try to download software from the official website. If you ever have to download software from another website, first Google if that website can be trusted. If this is not the case, you can often read it in the stories of others who try to warn you. Also always look briefly at the conditions when you download software. It may be that the software itself is not harmful, but that they do ‘weird’ things with your data such as selling to advertisers.
Links in e-mails and chat messages cannot always be trusted. Not only can they lead to harmful websites, clicking on the links themselves is dangerous. Only by clicking on a link can you get infected with a virus. So never just click on a link that you received from someone. Because often when someone is infected with such a virus, the links are automatically sent to all contacts in his or her contact list. So always consider whether it is true that you will be sent a certain link.
Apparently harmless websites
Nowadays hackers and malicious people are very cunning in decrypting data. They can load an almost exact copy of another website, but ensure that the data you enter goes to them and not to the website you want to visit. This is especially the case with public Wi-Fi networks, where you must first register with the Wi-Fi provider before you can use the internet. So always be careful and look for strange elements that can tell you whether or not a site can be trusted.
Today, the internet is becoming an increasingly unsafe place for regular internet users. In addition to phishing and malware, hackers also try to attack you via unsecured networks. Fortunately, there is a good solution for every threat. If you want to be sure that you have properly secured your computer, use our handy step-by-step plan:
- Update your operating system (Windows, Android, iOS, etc.)
- Always use a virus scanner
- Switch on your firewall
- Use a VPN
- Manage your passwords
- Pay close attention to emails and websites
- Keep your computer clean
- Always be on your guard for danger