How to take back your digital power

The all-powerful and all-knowing internet often gives us the illusion of unlimited freedom. But, unwittingly, it’s also a space where malware and cyber criminals lurk just waiting to lunge on your data, content, and other digital footprint. Here are some tips on how to combat digital threats and protect yourself online.

Secure your computer

One of the most basic steps in securing yourself online and offline is to keep your system guarded. What better way to protect your device than to install an antivirus or malware-combating software?

While most computers come with built-in protection, you could consider purchasing a preferred security provider; the likes of Kapersky, Bitdefender, Norton, McAfee, among others, may give you bonus protection. While it does not defend you from all threats, most virus, worm, Trojan, and adware should be solved by your chosen security software. Just don’t forget to constantly update.

Protect your privacy

Practice digital minimization. It’s so easy to get caught up with the trend of posting everything when all your friends are constantly updating their stories and timelines. But sometimes, broadcasting your live location or future vacation plans could attract unwanted stalkers, hold-uppers, or burglars into your home.

Avoid sharing too much about yourself; for instance, your birthdate could provide access to some of your passwords or personal documents. Never post your address, too, as this could threaten your physical space. Posting your number, as much as possible, is discouraged as you can be victimized by spam messages. Lastly, know where and what to upload. Some websites pass around content without you knowing. Hence, maximize privacy features by actively deciding which posts to set to public and which ones are restricted to a limited group.

Practice safety habits

It’s all about living a safety-conscious digital lifestyle. For one, avoid sharing your passwords with anyone, regardless of the trust level.

Don’t always connect to every free Wi-Fi because some hackers can more easily intercept data on similar networks, or even create fake Wi-Fi connections to lure you into their trap. If connecting on public Wi-Fi is unavoidable, refrain from conducting monetary transactions over free Wi-Fi as this could expose your personal card numbers, and worse, be used without your authorization.

Lastly, don’t just hit on every clickbait ad or content online as this could lead you to malware-infested sites.

Secure your email

Oftentimes, your email is a repository of all your private data, transactions, or even passwords. Make sure you don’t easily give away email passwords. While most emails come with security systems, avoid clicking on spam messages that are otherwise questionable as this could lead to data phishing.

Practice netiquette

As a fundamental rule of thumb, don’t do something online that you wouldn’t likewise do face to face. Always remember that you’re dealing with human beings—unless they’re bots—so despite the anonymity, be sensitive with the language you use. Don’t share or screenshot other people’s private messages and spread it around to stir a rumor. Help keep online flame wars and conflict in control. Don’t forget to respect other people’s time. Sometimes, we nearly forget that others also deserve a quiet moment while surfing. Lastly, as the famous internet adage goes, “Think before you click!”

Words Antonio Jose Galauran
First published in Speed Magazine’s May-June 2020 issue.

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