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Ex Intel CEO, Andy Grove once said, “Only the paranoid survive”. When it comes to being online, he’s absolutely right. Everything you do online nowadays should be approached with a healthy amount of cynicism.

Installing a free anti-virus program The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs You must know by now: you need antivirus protection. Macs, Windows and Linux PCs all need it. You really have no excuse. So grab one of these ten and start protecting your computer! Read More and forgetting about security simply doesn’t cut the mustard. So in this article, we’re going to look at some of the simple steps you can take to secure your entire online life.

Use Two-Factor Everywhere (Especially With Email)

Two-factor authentication What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires two different ways of proving your identity. It is commonly used in everyday life. For example paying with a credit card not only requires the card,... Read More is a quick and simple way of securing many of the tools that you use online. It basically uses something you know, like your password, and something you have, like your phone, to generate a code before you are able to log in.

Your email address is the skeleton key to all of your online services. If an attacker gets in to your emails, it’s all over as attackers can quickly generate password reset links to get in to all of your other accounts.

facebook password reset

By enabling two-factor on your email account, you add the extra layer of security to prevent attackers from getting in. So unless they have your phone and your user account details, they’re very unlikely to get in.

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All of the main email providers like Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo! will allow you to use two-factor. If you’re a Gmail user, there are also some extra security measures you can take How to Secure Your Gmail Account in 3 Easy Steps How to Secure Your Gmail Account in 3 Easy Steps For many of us, getting our Gmail accounts hacked would be the end of the world. Don't let that happen! All it takes it three easy steps to keep your account secure. Read More .

gmail two factor

There are many other services that off two-factor Which Services Offer Two-Factor Authentication? Which Services Offer Two-Factor Authentication? Not long ago, Tina told you all about two-factor authentication, how it works, and why you should use it. In a nutshell, two-factor authentication (2FA), or two-step verification as it’s sometimes called, is an additional... Read More , not just email. So enabling it for as many of the services that you use as possible will bolster you security. At first it may be frustrating to get to grips with, but you soon get used to it.

Encrypt Your Device

Encryption will ensure that if your device goes missing, the data stored on it is safe and secure. Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS all offer free encryption options, so there really isn’t any excuse for not encrypting.

bitlocker encyption

For Windows and Mac, it’s BitLocker Free Military-Grade Privacy For Your Files: How Bitlocker Works [Windows] Free Military-Grade Privacy For Your Files: How Bitlocker Works [Windows] Ever heard that quote about trying to explain how a television works to an ant? I'm not calling you an ant, even though you are hard-working and enjoy the occasional sip of aphid milk. What... Read More  and FileVault What Is Mac OS X FileVault & How Do I Use It? What Is Mac OS X FileVault & How Do I Use It? Only by manually encrypting the files on your hard drive can you truly keep your files safe. That's where the Mac OS X FileVault comes in. Read More , respectively. For Linux, you simply need to check the box “encrypt home partition” during the installation process.

When it comes to mobile devices, iOS is encrypted by default, as are many modern Android devices. However, if you have an Android device that isn’t encrypted by default, it can be easily turned on How To Encrypt Data on Your Smartphone How To Encrypt Data on Your Smartphone With the Prism-Verizon scandal, what allegedly has been happening is that the United States of America's National Security Agency (NSA) has been data mining. That is, they have been going through the call records of... Read More .

Protect Your Lock Screen

These days, many smartphones and tablets come with fingerprint recognition for unlocking your device. It’s obviously more secure than having nothing at all, but a PIN on your lock screen is better than using fingerprint recognition. “Why?” I hear you yell.

It’s simple really. The fifth amendment has a safeguard in place to prevent self-incrimination. If a government body were to ask you to unlock your device, you could forget your PIN, but you can’t change your fingerprint.

So with a court order, you could be forced to unlock your device. With a PIN, its not so simple. Not to mention, having a protected lock screen can stop the opportunist from getting at your phone.

pin table

When setting a PIN, be sure to use something that isn’t obvious. Data Genetics did a recent survey on PIN codes, and the table above shows the 20 most common of the 7 million sampled.

Most of the PIN codes in the table above follow some kind of pattern. Us humans love patterns, so if you stick to a PIN that doesn’t have an obvious pattern, then it’s less likely to be guessed.

Encrypt Your Text Messages

Services like Whatsapp now encrypt by default Why WhatsApp's End-to-End Encryption Is a Big Deal Why WhatsApp's End-to-End Encryption Is a Big Deal WhatsApp recently announced that they would be enabling end-to-end encryption in their service. But what does this mean for you? Here's what you need to know about WhatsApp encryption. Read More . This is great because it stops anyone from spying on your private conversations. However, it doesn’t support standard text messaging and the recipient needs to be using Whatsapp as well.

whatsapp encryption

There are alternatives to Whatsapp that allow for end-to-end encryption, such as Telegram Telegram Provides A Secure & Fast-Growing Alternative To WhatsApp Telegram Provides A Secure & Fast-Growing Alternative To WhatsApp Read More and Signal. All these tools also allow you to make encrypted calls, so can be a lot more secure than traditional calls or text messages.

Edward Snowden himself actually recommends Signal.

The vast majority of people nowadays do have Whatsapp on their phone, as it’s more secure and has more functionality than a simple text message. So even though it’s a requirement for your friends to have the app as well, it’s not really an issue any more.

If you don’t have Whatsapp on your device, I urge you to start using it ASAP. It’s free, after all.

Search in Private

Many people know that Google is a privacy black hole Five Things Google Probably Knows About You Five Things Google Probably Knows About You Read More , yet it’s still the site that most people turn to when they have a question about pretty much anything.

But there are alternative search engines out there that don’t store information about you. So you get the answers to your questions, and your privacy remains in tact. The biggest of these privacy aware search engines is DuckDuckGo 8 Search Tricks That Work on DuckDuckGo but Not on Google 8 Search Tricks That Work on DuckDuckGo but Not on Google Google Search is king. But DuckDuckGo has earned a loyal fan following. It has a few unusual features that even Google doesn't have. Read More .

duckduckgo

The DuckDuckGo privacy policy is very simple. The first line reads: “DuckDuckGo does not collect or share personal information.” So you can search on DuckDuckGo safe in the knowledge that your personal data is not being harvested.

Get a Password Manager

Having the most secure password in the world Password Chart: Secure Password Creator Password Chart: Secure Password Creator Read More doesn’t mean anything if it’s the same for every site you use. If one of your accounts gets compromised, then all of your accounts are effectively compromised along with it.

The solution is a password manager, like LastPass Master Your Passwords For Good With Lastpass' Security Challenge Master Your Passwords For Good With Lastpass' Security Challenge We spend so much time online, with so many accounts, that remembering passwords can be really tough. Concerned about the risks? Find out how to use LastPass' Security Challenge to improve your security hygiene. Read More . A password manager will allow you to generate random passwords and will automatically log you in to sites you have stored.

lastpass generator

This means that you only need to remember to main password for your manager, and it will do all the hard word for you. Just don’t forget to enable two-factor authentication on your password manager!

Use Tor (Not Incognito)

Incognito mode, or private browsing if you don’t use Chrome, allows you to surf the web anonymously, and no one can see what you have been up to. It’s great, right? Wrong!

If you’re using incognito mode on your machine, your internet service provider, network administrators and the makers of your browser can still see what you have been looking at online.

It’s a common misconception that incognito mode is private. It isn’t, it just doesn’t save any history to the local machine. If you want a way to browse the internet more privately, take a look at Tor TOR For Newbies: When Should You Use It? TOR For Newbies: When Should You Use It? Savvy users should already know whether using TOR is right for their needs, but what about the newbies out there? Read More .

On the desktop, it’s as simple as downloading and installing the Tor Browser (which is based on Firefox, so should be familiar to most).

tor android

If you’re on a mobile device, you can still use Tor to browse the internet. There are apps like Orbot for Android How to Browse the Web Anonymously On Your Android Smartphone How to Browse the Web Anonymously On Your Android Smartphone When you access a website on your smartphone, your cellular carrier, network operator, and government all know you accessed that website. Tor allows you to browse anonymously and bypass web censorship on your desktop. Orbot... Read More  and VPN Browser for iOS.

Tor isn’t 100% secure. Nothing is. But if you want truly private browsing, Tor is the closest that most people will get.

This Is How You Stay Secure

It’s important to remember that it is impossible to remain 100% secure whilst online. Attackers will always find a way in, given enough time.

These tips will make a would-be attacker’s life very difficult, but that doesn’t mean you should ever let your guard down. Remember, only the paranoid survive!

Do you have any other tips for staying secure online? If so, feel free to share them below.

Image Credit: LeoWolfert via Shutterstock.com

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