9 Actionable Tips to Stay Safe Online

5 min

Browsing the web safely is a task in itself these days. There are so many things to consider and manage. Your personal information, your financial information, your computer system or smartphone, your local storage device, your connected devices, and even your cloud storage. Protecting all of them all the time can be a challenge.

If you are someone who can relate to that, then here are seven of the best, actionable tips to secure your connection to the Internet. They range from quick hacks to simple tool usage to advanced privacy setups, all of which will make you stay safe and secure online.

Create Random Passwords

The best way to create complex passwords is to randomize. A majority of users – when they are creating a password – will use a known element like their mother’s maiden name or their favorite pet animal as a reference. This is a mistake because then guessing your password becomes easier (although still difficult).

The key is to use random references that only you can make sense of. Some examples are your favorite historical event along with a random year, your least favorite book written backward, your favorite IKEA furniture name in leetspeak. When you blend them with some capital letters and symbols, you create the perfect password.

Don’t Save Your Passwords on Your Browser

It’s extremely convenient to have your web browser save all your passwords. You don’t have to remember the tens and even hundreds of combinations; the browser supplies them to you when needed.

But it’s not a safe practice. Letting your browser (or any other tool for that matter) save your passwords can pose a risk should there be a data breach in its database. The browser will try its best to convince you (because it wants you to depend on it in the long run) but the key is to stay away.

A solution is to memorize the important ones. Alternatively, you can use two-factor authentication (2FA) or one-time-password (OTP) methods to log into websites. Another wild solution is to gradually minimize the number of services/websites that you use.

Keep the Updates On

There is nothing more annoying than letting your computer control the system updates. Besides those frequent annoying notifications, sometimes the updates change critical elements of certain software, disrupting your work. While the reasons for switching off automatic updates are understandable, it’s not a wise practice.

In most cases, such updates bring with them crucial security fixes that are important for safeguarding your system. Skipping them means you are making your system and your personal information vulnerable. It is true for all types of updates: device firmware, operating systems, and individual software.

It would do you good to update your device, system, and applications at least once a month. You can switch off the automatic updates and choose a particular day of the month instead.

Set Up a VPN

We know you have taken this advice from us before but it doesn’t make it less useful. Setting up a VPN on your system is critical. It not only allows you to hide your IP address but also encrypts your traffic so routine hackers find it difficult to intercept your communication.

Installing a VPN is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to stay safe online today. You may try TuxlerVPN to get a taste of the technology that protects millions of users from online fraud.

When you choose to set up a virtual network, make sure you cover all your devices. If you use a desktop, a laptop, and a smartphone, install a VPN on all three. 

Don’t Save Financial Data Anywhere

Browsers are not the safest place for passwords. Similarly, “nowhere” is the safest place for storing financial data like social security numbers, credit card numbers, internet banking passwords, and debit card PINs.

When you store financial information like that on a browser or within a website, you immediately put yourself at risk. There is no way to ensure that your information will always be safe. The website will make all types of claims, but who can you blame when its database gets hacked one day? No one.

Therefore, it is best to avoid saving any type of financial information anywhere. Whenever you transact online, start fresh and use your memory and physical tools (cards, passbook) to feed the data. Make sure you clear the browser cache (and history) after executing such transactions.

Note – Avoid executing a financial transaction on a public computer or network.

Use a Known Web Browser Like Chrome or Safari

There are tens of web browsers offering just about the same product in the market today. They are mostly free and typically have some extra kinks to attract users. Unsurprisingly, these features rarely help you stay safe online.

But web browsing isn’t an activity that you should take lightly. Frauds and hackers are actively on the lookout for people who may be using a weak system or browser. And the best way to give them the slip is to use a known and popular web browser.

Your options are Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera. We don’t recommend experimenting with browsers you are not familiar with. It is best to avoid new browsers that look cool and powerful on the surface but are full of vulnerabilities on the inside.

For added protection, install the TuxlerVPN Chrome extension or a Mozilla Firefox VPN extension, depending on the chosen browser.

Use Common and Popular Apps

Another way to steer clear of scams and fraud is to stick to common apps. For example, if you are looking for a PDF scanner, research what the most popular ones are and choose one of them. Lesser-known apps often come with suspicious links, collect your data without your permission, and run pesky ads.

A good example of this is to use a PDF reader by Adobe, Sumatra, or Kofax than some random bloatware application that came with your device. We should note that there are some exceptions to this tip and we suggest using your judgment while experimenting with new offerings.

Stay Away from Non-HTTPS Websites

We have come a long way in online security tech to cut non-HTTPS sites any slack. If you come across a site without a secure HTTP, it is best to avoid it. While not all such HTTP sites are harmful, you cannot depend on guesswork when your personal information is in line.

Pro Tip – Look out for the secure emblem (usually as a lock sign) on the address bar of your browser when browsing. This is how you identify HTTPS websites. This is a mark of trust, though you should still be careful while clicking on weird-looking links.

Avoid Shady Links, Websites, and QR Codes

This is a cliché now, we agree. But it is still as relevant as it was when it was first suggested. Users around the world wide web still fall prey to phishing attacks and scams just by clicking on a questionable link or scanning a mysterious QR code. And before they realize that they have made a mistake, it’s usually too late.

The age-old wisdom of avoiding shady-looking links, websites, and QR codes still comes highly recommended. If anything looks weird or shady, it’s most likely it. Avoid them if you can.

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