10 Easy Ways to Protect Your Devices
In today’s busy world, you probably have an internet-ready device that goes wherever you go. Whether you’re sending emails, doing market research, or running important errands that keep your household going, tablets, laptops, smartphones and the internet have become crucial to daily living.
Don’t leave them — and your information — vulnerable. Here, we outline 10 easy ways to protect your devices and stay safe online. But first, why does cybersecurity matter?
Why Cybersecurity Matters
The internet has made many things — from banking to grocery shopping — easier and faster. However, in turn, much of our data is stored online in various accounts. If enough of that information is collected, your identity can be stolen, you can become a victim of fraud, and you can find your bank account is suddenly empty.
You don’t need to be a victim of a cyberattack, though. Here’s what you can do to protect your devices.
1. Password Protect Your Device
Protecting your device begins with equipping the device itself with some kind of password. This way, if it’s lost or taken, your information won’t immediately be exposed. While you may not have the device returned to you, the factory reset necessary to bypass device protection will result in all your data and information being purged from the device. This means no one can see your sensitive information.
2. Use the Built-in Encryption Features
Many mobile devices come equipped with an encryption feature. Turning this on from within your settings will make any data passing through your device more difficult for others to access or read. In the event your network or device does fall victim to a cyberattack, the encryption feature can limit what data is exposed.
3. Only Use Trusted Networks
It’s tempting to do things when they need to be done — no matter where you are — but it’s important to keep in mind that public (and poorly protected private) networks are vulnerable to hackers. Always check which network you are using and whether it is password-protected, because even trusted networks must rely on security to remain safe.
While passwords protect your home network, do consider buying an additional cybersecurity software.
4. Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network can be installed on individual devices as well as on networks. When you download a VPN app on your devices, all information traveling through the device is encrypted and a secure internet connection is created. Information passing through your device is more difficult to poach. A VPN can also mask your location, IP address, and help you avoid firewalls.
5. Say Yes to Updates
Find all those update prompts annoying? While it can be inconvenient to make sure your device is up to date, many updates are put out to patch weak spots that have proven vulnerable to hackers. Protecting your device to the fullest means installing all updates when they’re made available to you.
Not installing updates is akin to going up and leaving your keys in the front door — it’s essentially an open invitation to would-be cybercriminals.
6. Consider Upgrading
Whether we like it or not, device manufacturers only keep releasing updates and patches for certain operating system (OSs) versions for so long. After the support stops, your device is essentially a sitting duck.
Which? recently calculated that two out of every five Android devices are no longer receiving vital security updates from Google. For example, if you’re using a device that runs anything less than Android 8.0, you’re at risk and should consider an upgrade.
7. Use a Full Suite of Cybersecurity Tools
Even if your device already has an antivirus program, you may not be fully protected. In addition to a traditional antivirus, you should also use an antimalware program, a VPN (which we mentioned above), and for computers, you’ll also want a firewall. Many people are surprised to learn that they need both antivirus and antimalware, but both are necessary as antiviruses cannot adequately cope with newer threat types.
Devices you use for work may need more than these tools, including but not limited to internet protection and email scanners.
8. Consider Enabling Biometric Authentication
Biometric authentication uses your unique biometric data to unlock your device or allow access to certain files of programs. Commonly, devices use fingerprints or facial recognition technology to do so. Enabling biometrics is an added layer of security that offers you protection just in case your device is lost or stolen as the new “owner” will find it much harder to access your device without your face or fingerprint.
9. Be Selective with the Apps You Download
Not all apps are created equal, and not all apps have your best interests at heart. In fact, some are released purely for nefarious reasons, such as installing malware on your device.
When you visit the app store, check reviews and read third-party endorsements before installing a fun new app.
10. Exercise Caution When Clicking Links
Have you ever received an email from your bank that just didn’t look right? If that email contained a link to log in and “fix” an issue with your account, it could be a phishing attempt. Malware is often spread via phishing emails and unsuspecting users are the perfect target.
Carefully vet any links that are sent to you in unsolicited emails or text messages as these may be links to malware.
Use Your Internet-Ready Devices — Safely
There’s no reason to shy away from using the internet to make your life more efficient — as long as you take the time to protect your devices. These simple steps can help you fend off the next would-be hacker that sets their sights on you.
About the Author
Amy Cavendish is a content strategist at TechFools, a tech blog aiming to inform readers about the potential dangers of technology and introduce them to the best ways to protect themselves online. As an outspoken advocate for digital freedom, Amy is dedicated to empowering her readers to take control of their digital lives with her thought-leadership articles.