With more and more people going online, online security is one of the things one must think primarily about when browsing the internet. Data in any form is probably one of the most important currencies one can hold, and everybody should take protecting personal data from online threats seriously.
When Windows 10 was launched, it was done so with a promise of increased security and regular updates for the same. This is one of the first steps taken by Microsoft to ensure online safety and Windows security.
What Is Online Security?
We unconsciously use online security every day when we are online. Online security refers to the steps taken by many websites online to protect the data of the users who visit these sites. Many important websites like Gmail, Google Drive, and Microsoft, etc. use certain encryption protocols, which make sure that they are secure online.
Most security services ask for some credentials like contact information which is unique to you to apply these services for your device. They also have a disclaimer, which elaborates on how the data you provide will be used or distributed.
Although these services provide their best while trying to prevent your digital footprint from being misused, Windows security is not perfect. The Internet literally stands for ‘connected’, and this open nature of the web makes it prone to malicious attacks. But these can be avoided by using good VPN services and if you are on windows you can download VPN for Windows here. We will discuss in more details in the later part of the article.
What Constitutes My Digital Footprint?
Simply put, your digital footprint is every activity that you perform online, and that can be traced back to you. These include your browsing history, communication activity, contributions, donations, comments, etc.
You may or may not be aware of your digital footprint depending upon how your data is collected. Some services ask for your data upfront, like signing up for some service. These include the social media platforms and the forums where you have to sign up to post a query or post.
Another way your data is collected is anonymously through cookies and other saved data. Many businesses and websites use this technique to collect your data to monitor the traffic to these websites. This data is called ‘cookies’ and is stored locally when you browse these sites.
What Do I Need To Be Careful About When I Am Online?
Some of the common threats that you need to be aware of are:
- Hackers: These malicious users gain unauthorized access to your data using many illegal ways. Upon gaining access to your data, these can be used as leverage for various other activities. These hackers can gain access to your personal data and other important information that you store on your device.
- Malware: This malicious software is placed on your device by cyber-criminals, and is one of the most common threats to online security. After your device gets infected by malware, these can be used to delete or alter some important files on your desktop, format your hard disk, send emails on your behalf, open ad-laden pages, etc.
- Trojan horses: You must have heard of this at least once in your life. Trojan horses are very difficult to find and are one of the most dangerous threats to your data. These are basically malicious files embedded within other authentic software, which can run in the background without any user input. It can be used to steal passwords and other sensitive data by recording keystrokes or spying through your webcam.
- Ransomware: This is a type of malware, which restricts access to certain files on your hard drive until the culprit releases the lock. This method is often used to demand ransom against your sensitive information.
- Phishing: Phishing is the term used for stealing authentic information in the form of disguises. Offenders use fake emails, text messages, and even websites to trick people to give up important personal information.
How Can I Provide Additional Security To My Data?
No security system is 100% secure in preserving your digital footprint. Some data will always be collected with or without your knowledge. Hence, you must be aware of these threats and take appropriate measures for the same. Here are some tips that you can use to protect your data online:
Make sure your network is secure from threats. Public Wi-Fi is mostly unsecured with no encryption to protect the data that is being transferred over the same. In these situations, you can make use of a VPN app.
A virtual private network extends a private network across a public network, meaning it enables users to transfer data across the public network as if their devices were directly connected to the private network. The private network is created using encrypted tunneling protocols, making cross-network data transfer more secure.
Some VPN services also come with added features like ad blockers and IP hiding protocols, making your browsing anonymous to even your ISP.
Additionally, you can also use firewalls to monitor the data transferred over your network, and enable multi-factor authentication to protect access to your accounts.
A virtual private network can protect your anonymity online and prevent your data from being stolen. Although free VPN services may not be very secure, we have a list of best free VPN for Windows in 2019. Tell us in the comments which VPN service do you use for anonymous browsing online.