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How to Protect Your Digital Security

As more and more of our personal and professional lives takes place on the internet, maintaining strong digital security is becoming increasingly important. Wide-ranging hacks can collect your data without targeting you or your business specifically. Even worse, these exploits are becoming so advanced that something as simple as viewing an image can be enough to compromise your security.

While it's impossible to be 100 percent certain your data is secure, there are a number of easy steps you can take to vastly improve your digital security. These methods should help protect you against the most common dangers of the digital age.

Take Your Passwords Seriously

Password protection is the most common means of preventing unauthorized access, and yet most users choose unsecure passwords and use those same unsecure passwords on dozens of different websites. There's a simple reason for this. Remembering dozens of unique and complex passwords is hard. Fortunately, there's an easy solution to that problem. A password vault such as LastPass can store all of your passwords securely, and even generate random new passwords that are impossible to guess. LastPass encrypts all of this information, as well as the master password you use to access the vault.

Many websites and services, including LastPass, Google, Dropbox, Apple, and Paypal, now include the option of two-step verification. This means that anytime you log onto your account from a new computer, you'll need to provide a one-time code in addition to your password. The code is most commonly sent as a text message. Anyone trying to access your account would need not only your password, but your phone as well.

Beef up Your Browser

Web browsers these days have a variety of apps and extensions, as well as built-in options that can improve your security. Extensions like uBlock and AdBlock prevent ads from loading. This can help protect against malvertising, which uses online ads to download and install malicious software. These ads can show up even on trusted websites, and can infect your computer even if you don't click on them.

Depending on what browser you use, you may be able to change settings to prevent flash from running automatically. This can stop vulnerabilities like the one that may have compromised millions of Yahoo users in August. Instead of automatically running flash plugins on a page, your browser will block them by default and allow you to opt-in if you want to view the content. You can also whitelist certain websites to prevent flash from being blocked on those pages.

Use Encryption, Firewalls, and Proxies

A wired network connection is always the most secure option, but if you do use Wi-Fi, make sure it's secure. Most access points include WEP or WPA security. If given the choice, go with WPA, as it uses stronger encryption.

For extra security, you can set up a proxy firewall as an additional layer of security between the access point and your data. You can also route your internet traffic through a virtual private network, allowing you to encrypt outbound data.

If you're particularly concerned with making your connection anonymous and difficult to trace, you can download the Tor Browser Bundle. Tor not only encrypts your data, but also bounces it between at least three different relays, chosen from among its thousands of volunteer servers worldwide. This makes it difficult to read your data, and almost impossible to determine your location. The downside is that it will reduce the speed of your connection because the data has a lot farther to travel.

These are far from the only means by which you can protect your digital security, but these methods are easily implemented and can work for anyone from a private user to a large company. While no amount of security will make your system completely un-hackable, you might be surprised how large a difference a few small changes like these can make.

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Kayla Matthews is a tech-loving blogger who writes and edits ProductivityBytes.com. Follow her on Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

Published Thursday, October 01, 2015 8:00 AM by David Marshall
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