One of the greatest things about the year 2020 is that it made the dream of remote work into reality. Some lucky ones are able to choose to work from home permanently while others have decided to run their own online business for the first time. When you think about it, it had been long overdue; many of us spend the majority of working hours on screen. There's no reason why we should commute unless it's absolutely necessary.
Now, learning how to protect your privacy online is now more important than ever. Digital privacy and security have many levels. You may not need the encrypt-everything-and-throw-away-the-key kind of approach, but you still must know how to protect your private data. So, let’s cover the basics, and, by the end of this article, you’ll know how to stay safe while working online.
If there’s one thing you’ll remember about cybersecurity, let it be this: never reuse passwords. If one of them is leaked, all of them are, and every account you have is then in danger. Some people try to be clever and use the website's domain name combined with a particular number or their name. These passwords, while technically different, are all very easy to guess once you know at least one of them.
Instead, use a password generator and a password manager. This way, you won’t have to do any work: it will suggest complex passwords when you’re creating a new account and then remember them for you every time you log in. All you’ll need to know is your master password. And that’s the dream, right? Only one password to remember for the rest of your life!
Try Dashlane - it's one of the most popular password manager apps that also have browser extensions and can be sync'd between any devices.
A second layer of protection for both your private and business accounts will go a long way. Even if someone steals or guesses your passwords, they will have a hard time trying to log in to your account.
When you set up 2FA, you will need to enter not only your password but also a one-time code every time you log in. You can use a text message, an app, or a physical key to generate the code.
If you’re too lazy to set it up on all your accounts, at least protect those that you don’t want to lose the most. Like your email, work, and social media accounts.
Updates Are Your Friends
Stop clicking the “Postpone” button every time you get a notification about an update. Updates are there for a reason. They will not only remove bugs, add new features, and improve user experience — often, they will also include fixes for weaknesses that could be exploited by cybercriminals.
You never know when an overlooked loophole could lead to a major hack. If the developers worked hard to fix it, then the least you can do is install the update once it arrives. Just let it download and install in the background. We promise it won’t hurt, and your IT guy will thank you.
Protect Your Work Devices
Whether you’re a freelancer with personal gadgets or working from home on a company computer, it’s extremely important you take good care of them. Always have them password-protected and never share those passwords with anyone. Unprotected work devices are treasure troves for criminals and could do some serious damage if you happen to lose them.
While the home environment might seem safe, always lock your devices when you leave the desk – even if it’s to use the bathroom. Children can be quick and precise with their destruction without even realizing it, so do everything in your power to prevent accidental emails, deleted files, and blocked accounts.
The best way to protect your privacy online is not to share private information about yourself in the first place. If anyone can see where you work, when you leave for a vacation or a business trip, and what your favorite brunch place is, then this information could be used against you.
So, go to the privacy settings on all your online accounts and make sure only people you approve can see what you post. And even then, try not to share information that could be used in a cyber attack or a phishing campaign.
Have a Backup
Don't underestimate an accidental loss of your files in your computer. You know that if you have a backup and recovery system in place, it could save your skin if the worst happens. When someone deletes all your files, you accidentally drown your computer in the bathtub, or a hacker plans ransomware in your devices... You know these are all possibilities, then the least you can do is to take a backup of the most important files at the end of each day. When something unexpected happens, you will still be able to restore your files and continue with your work. Just with a little more caution, hopefully.
So, set up a backup system and sync everything with the cloud. This way, you’ll also be able to access your data if you’re out and about and don’t have your work laptop with you. If you'd like to save some of your files, you can use;
- Google Drive - Available for Google users, i.e. virtually anyone, free space is provided up to 15Gb.
- Dropbox - A popular file storage service. Free up to 2Gb, premium options are also available.
Use Privacy Software
While antivirus software is widely used and password managers are starting to gain popularity, virtual private networks (VPNs) are still new to some people. If you work online, VPN is the most important tool you should have. But regular internet users are often afraid they’re not tech-savvy enough to use VPNs. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Modern VPN providers have extremely user-friendly apps for all major platforms. Like NordVPN, which allows you to connect to a remote server with a single button. VPNs use modern encryption algorithms to protect your data online, so no one can intercept and see what you’re sending or receiving. With NordVPN, you won’t have to worry about unsecured public Wi-Fi either. It will protect your connections as you work on the train, in the library, or your favorite coffee shop.
Also Read: NordVPN Review - The Best So Far
Don’t Visit Shady Websites
Sometimes, a legitimate-looking banner advertising a fantastic sale is just too good not to click on. However, it might take you to a fake website that was made to look like a well-known online shop. If you know what to look for, the fake is easy to spot. The design will seem off: poor-quality images, weird fonts, multiple typos, etc. If you notice anything amiss (especially if there’s no “https” before the domain name), leave immediately. It could be designed to steal your data or install malware in the background.
What should you do if you are not skilled enough to spot a fake? Here’s where NordVPN once again could help. It has a special feature that blocks your access to websites known to contain malware. NordVPN will also block malicious ads and pop-ups, thus lowering the chance of you clicking on one accidentally.
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