If you use your laptop to check emails, surf the web, or even just write some blogs, you’re probably aware of the risks associated with what is known as “cyber-bullying”. Cyber-bullying is when people harass others online, whether intentionally or unintentionally. For example, a kid might be mean to their friends on social media websites like Twitter or they might just complain about other peoples’ mistakes on YouTube. If you witness this behavior or if you’re a victim yourself, you might feel intimidated enough to avoid stepping into the conversation or even leaving the house.

The truth is, the internet doesn’t discriminate. People from all over the world can connect and converse with one another through online platforms. Though the internet was built with safety in mind, it doesn’t mean that all interactions through social media or online forums are safe. In fact, those who use the internet for malicious purposes can easily find and exploit its weaknesses.

That’s why it’s crucial to secure your computer and smart devices against cyber-attacks. You can do this by taking the following steps:

Use A VPN To Secure Your Computer

A virtual private network or VPN is a tool that encrypts and secures all of the data that you transfer over a network. The best VPN apps offer high degrees of security with very minimal to no disruptions in functionality. They also offer dedicated IP addresses, which let you log in from any device, anywhere in the world, with perfect speed and reliability. When you use a VPN, you’re protected from snoopers, hackers, and data breaches. Plus, they’re completely free, which cannot be said for some of the more well-known internet security products.

Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

For added security, you can enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts. 2FA is a type of authentication that requires a form of verification beyond your standard username and password. It typically combines something you know with something you have; for example, your phone number with a password-generated code. This helps prevent hackers from gaining access to your account if they steal your password or login credentials. In addition to helping keep your accounts secure, 2FA also adds an extra layer of safety to your online transactions. You can enable 2FA for all of your online accounts with the push of a button.

Use A Hardware Key

If you use your computer regularly, you might consider getting a hardware key. A hardware key is a small security component that connects to your computer through USB and authenticates your identity whenever you turn on your computer or mobile device. Most companies that make hardware keys also offer additional protections such as firewalls, data encryption, and specialized passwords. Though they’re small, hardware keys can significantly improve the security of your computer or mobile device. They also make changing your password less inconvenient.

Watch Out For Phishing

You should always be on the lookout for phishing scams. A phishing scam is a type of social engineering fraud where an attacker tries to trick you into providing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers. To do this, they might send you an email that looks like it’s from a trusted entity. This is known as a ‘Phishing attack’ (a form of ‘Social Engineering’). Remember, it is never safe to give your information or click on a suspicious link/email; even if it is from a “trusted” source.

The best way to avoid phishing scams is by taking regular security updates and installing reputable anti-virus software. Furthermore, make sure that your email provider has verified that the sender of the email is in fact an entity they claim to be. If you find an email from “[insert anycompanyhere]” inviting you to click a link to verify ownership of an email address, you can be sure that it’s a scam.

Avoid Downloading Or Installing Apps From Unknown Sources

Most people download apps from reputable stores like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to keep their devices safe and in good condition. However, a lot of the apps that you download may still be infected with malware or perform other types of malicious actions. To keep your devices safe from this kind of risk, it’s crucial to only download apps from legitimate sources.

The only way to know for sure whether or not an app is safe is to scan it with a reputable app scanner. Some of these programs will also tell you the basic history of the app, including when it was last updated and any warnings that may exist about it. By taking the time to do this sparingly, you can easily keep your devices safe from malware and other risks that come with downloading apps from unverified sources.

Protect Your Smart Devices

Just like your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, smart devices such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple Watch can also be susceptible to attack. Though your primary device may be safe, any smart devices that you utilize for extra security or to make your day-to-day life easier should be protected against unauthorized access. To keep your devices safe from hackers, it’s crucial to use security software that can block unsolicited texts, provide data encryption, and more. Additionally, make sure to set a strong password and take regular safety updates to ensure that your devices stay secure.

Forbes magazine has ranked the top 25 VPN services based on price, functionality, and popularity.

Do you use any of the above methods to keep your devices secure? If so, how effective are they in keeping you safe? Let us know in the comments below!