During the pandemic, we've grown even more dependent on our devices to stay in touch, get work done and remain entertained.
We're shopping and banking online; viewing and sharing recipes; and getting news pushed to our phones, tablets, laptops and smart speakers. But with the increased reliance on tech comes a greater risk of being tracked, analyzed, marketed to or even scammed.
Whether your internet service provider, a search engine or social media giants are blatantly mining your data or cybercriminals are out to defraud you through computer viruses, phishing scams or ransomware, your privacy, security and sanity are at stake.
The good news is you don't need to be Bill Gates to fight back. Consider these simple ways to stop cyber-snoopers in their tracks.
1. Use a VPN
Many of us choose the “private” or “incognito” mode when opening a web browser because it deletes your history and trackable cookies after your surfing session. But be aware your online activity is still visible during your time online. This information can be tracked, saved and shared or sold to third parties.
While private browsing prevents information from being automatically stored on your device, everything you do is still visible to your internet service provider. Websites you visit can see your IP address, which gives them your approximate geographical whereabouts, and identifies your device.
Instead, install a reputable virtual private network (VPN), which provides anonymity when browsing online. Popular VPN options include ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
An up-to-date security suite should also help you keep away from prying eyes.
2. Create strong passwords, pass phrases
Remember to have a strong password for all your accounts. Make it at least seven characters long and a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. You'll get bonus points for adding upper and lowercase letters.
Never use the same password for all your online activity. If a site or app is breached, then the bad guys have access to all your accounts. Password manager apps aren't a bad idea.