5 internet safety tips
Security, like decentralisation, is an issue that is often assessed when it is too late. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Therefore, today I am going to share with you 5 internet safety tips, to prevent an extremely bitter moment.
Definitely, there’s no need to wait to be hacked, or suffer information or money theft before taking some safety measures on the internet. We should be aware that hackers, like every other “professional”, need training. So, we can become a target not for what we have, but just to serve as on-field practice.
Having all that in mind is obvious that being in crypto implies a step further in terms of safety methods because our devices are holding our money and we are exclusively responsible for their safety. Therefore, let’s learn 5 tips to stay safe on the internet.
Why these internet safety tips are important
As I said in the introduction, security measures seem somewhat exaggerated until the moment comes when we would have liked to have applied each of them. Without becoming paranoid, there are some simple and costless initiatives that we can apply in order to protect ourselves on this new “wild west” called the internet.
While in the web2 world, unlike in the web3 environment, there are centralised decision-makers who respond to certain problems, personal security resides in the head of each user. For this reason, it is necessary to take certain measures when using the internet.
Today we will look at 5 internet safety tips to stay safe and avoid bad times.
When we activate the two-factor authentication, to log in to an application we would be asked to enter two different codes or passwords. The idea is to add an extra layer of security when checking whether the person who wants to log in is really the account holder.
There are several methods to implement a double safety factor. After entering our password, as in any other situation, the second code to enter an application can come from:
- Our email
- A 2FA application
There are certain sites that require us to use two-factor authentication. Unfortunately, they usually suggest the first two methods. While our email can be hacked and thus give the hacker access to our applications, the least recommended method is SMS. You would be surprised at the number of “SIM card duplication” attacks that exist.
Without a doubt, an F2A application is the recommended method. Finding Google F2a and Authy, as the most used, its operation is extremely simple but effective. We connect them once to the site in question and from then on, every 15 seconds they will generate a random 6-character code. After 15 seconds, a new code is generated.
Then, when we want to connect them, we write the code, the application verifies it and we can access the site.
Creating secure and memorable passwords is not a simple task. You’d be surprised how many people simply put in birthday dates or simple numeric combinations that are easily hackable. But luckily, there are applications that take care of this tedious task for us.
They are called Password Managers. The work that they do for us is to store, with the highest security and cryptographical methods two things:
- The user of a site
- It’s password
Therefore, every time we tried to log in on those sites, the Password Manager would automatically complete both, letting us know that we are safely connected. Another great future of these applications is that they offer the option to generate a password automatically, which helps to avoid using the same password to access different sites, a highly undesirable but widespread practice.
However, there is going to be one password that we must remember. It’s called the master password and it’s the one that gives us access to the password manager app. This password should be sufficiently complex to prevent others from having access to all our passwords, and the next tip can help you to keep it safe.
Having a paper backup
Given the level of technological advancement at which we find ourselves, this advice may sound rather rudimentary. However, paper, stored securely, remains unhackable. Of course, those of us in the crypto world put it into practice at least once for every new wallet we have created.
Beyond all the personal measures and those that online security companies can apply, you have to face reality:
- Everything on the internet is susceptible to hacking
That is why in the crypto world, it is recommended to write down the sed-phrase, a 12-24 word phrase that gives access to our wallets, on more than one piece of paper.
Obviously, these pieces of paper should be kept with extreme caution and away from anyone’s reach. But, when all else fails on the internet, having a paper backup can be a salvation.
Use a VPN
We never know who will try to read our data online. We leave sensitive personal information online and it is important that only those we want to have access to it. A VPN helps us encrypt the information that flies from our device, computer, smartphone or tablet to our router.
So with a VPN, not even our internet provider would be able to read our information. Sound a bit far-fetched? Well, it can be. But, in this day and age of remote working, imagine you have to travel. Then, you have no choice but to work from a hotel, a rented flat or a co-working place. When you connect your device to their wifi service, you don’t know if someone has corrupted it and is reading all the information that users are sending.
However, with a VPN, you can rest assured knowing that all your information will be:
- First, encrypted
- Then, sent to the router
- Finally, spread on the internet
This is the kind of tool, which allows us to know that our information sent to the internet will be safe.
In addition, VPNs have another use that can be really useful. Have you ever been in a situation where you need to use a website but it was restricted in your country? A VPN can serve as a simple way out of this mess. When you connect your device to a VPN you have to choose where you want your server to be located. For example, if you are in France, but the website is exclusive to UK IPs, you can simply choose a UK server and consume all the information from that site.
Without a doubt, a VPN is a must-have tool.
Avoiding unofficial websites
Finally, we come to the last of these 5 Internet safety tips. It has never been easier to create a website than it is these days. While we celebrate that building online has become easier and more accessible to more people, a fact that promotes diversity and expands possibilities for all, on the other hand, we have to be more careful than ever. The thing is, that everything we use on the internet has two sides:
- The front-end, every visual aspect that we see
- The back-end, all the logic that allows the front-end to work
The issue comes with the fact that we usually don’t have access to the back-end code or, even if we do, we won’t be able to understand it. Therefore, it is not hard enough for a bad actor to create a website that looks exactly like the one we use every day, but connects it to a malicious back-end in order to track our data online.
So how can we avoid unofficial websites? There is a simple two-step process you can take. First, check the official website on the official Twitter account. Once you’ve logged into that site, save it as one of your favourites. Then, whenever you need to return to that site, just click on your favourites and you’ll be safe.
A brief note. This section mentions a feature of web2 that web3 wants to change. In web2, companies do not share their back-end so that their competitors can’t copy it. But in the web3 world, back-ends are liberated. The open-source spirit means that:
- Anyone can verify the code
- Can be used to build on it
Again, a sign that a philosophical shift is underway.
By now, there is no doubt that the Internet is one of the most important creations of human civilisation. We can certainly, imagine history books a thousand years from now talking about this great revolution, called the internet. But one question remains: what place will be given to security and its vulnerabilities?
History has shown us that, as soon as rules are created, human beings take it upon themselves to break them. Data theft on the internet is a great and unpleasant example of this.
While the internet connects us as human beings, when it comes to taking care of our online security, we are on our own. These 5 internet safety tips are just the beginning of a task in which we must never relax.