Think of internet security like personal protective equipment and CDC guidelines.
Just as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends masks and gloves (the “PPE”), vaccines, and hygienic practices (like physical distancing) to help stop the spread of viruses and pathogenic bacteria, we recommend that you use a virtual private network (VPN) service for encrypted internet communication, anti-virus (AV) software, and best practices that help protect you from malicious actors or the internet.
Now that we have hindsight about the global pandemic (and still have much to learn), we can ask serious questions like, “Did we act soon enough?” and “Should mandatory use of PPE been implemented much earlier?” To many of us, one reason the COVID-19 has taken one million lives in America as of May 2022 and severely impaired the economy in 2020 is clear: we did not act soon enough to implement the proper precautions and PPE!
To the death toll, we can add that four or more people are left to grieve their loss of a loved one for a long time, not to mention residual medical bills. Also, among those who survive COVID-19, some percent suffer from debilitating “COVID long-haul” symptoms for months.
If all nations had implemented available precautions and mandatory utilization of PPE in early 2020, the world would likely be in a much better state of health. However, the capabilities of all the world’s countries greatly vary; they are very uneven in their capabilities and willingness to act decisively and transparently. However, we still can be proactive in protecting our health and our online personas. As Benjamin Franklin wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and the CDC has borrowed his wisdom.
Our online personas usually have lives of their own and can easily be compromised most any time, similar to a pathogen’s impact on the human body. Our internet presence is more fragile than the human body (which at least has its own immune system). Without proper security and precautions, your online presence and social persona are susceptible to viruses, spying, and data theft, which can compromise your reputation, peace of mind, and even your livelihood.
Truly, an unwillingness to prepare can lead to much regret in health as well as online experience.
Many of us use the internet for online banking, communicating across the globe, purchasing goods and services, and storing sensitive information. Unauthorized access to this information by malicious actors can lead to significant problems, such as bank fraud and identity theft. One breach can compromise your digital persona and unravel your online life. Still, like the utilization of protections in these troubling times, the risks associated with viruses and breaches can be significantly minimized by taking advantage of the following security best practices:
- Use anti-virus software. See recommendations and guidance for 2022 at CNET.
- Invest in a VPN service.
- A VPN extends a private network across a public network. Therefore, applications running on a system with a VPN solution in place may benefit from the functionality, security, and management of a private network. Many answers are rather inexpensive and worth the an cost. An example of rankings for 2022 is here.
- Use strong, unique, complex passwords for every website.
- Also, a password manager or vault can be extraordinarily beneficial, as it adds layers of security to protect those robust passwords. These are some of the best.
- Be extremely cautious with app downloads.
- Before you install an app, investigate its reputation. Downloading from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store generally is considered safe. Review the permissions that the organization is requesting. For example, does it make sense that a video game app is requesting access to your photos? Probably not.
- Keep all of your applications up to date.
- Typically, dates for applications have the latest patches and solutions for security issues and compromised information.
- Regularly back up your new files and other data.
A good practice is to make a local backup, such as to a storage device attached to your computer, and an offsite backup, such as in cloud storage or a physical device that you remove from your premises (even kept in your car if necessary) after making a weekly or monthly backup.
With the implementation of shelter-in-place and state and county-wide restrictions, people across the globe who can work or attend classes remotely are doing so more than ever. This shift to remote work and education has led to an increase in successful cyber attacks and breaches. Check out this 2020 Q1 Data Breach Report from RiskBased Security.
Ideally, we do not repeat past mistakes and instead are proactive about protecting our health and our online presence before trouble visits our us. At Presence, our mission is to provide resources and tools to help protect you from the dangerous pitfalls of today’s internet. Take advantage of the types digital PPS (personally protective software) mentioned in this article, and don’t let your digital persona succumb to spying, viruses, and other online threats.
Read more about online privacy at our 10 Tips to Protect Your Online Privacy and continue your journey to a more secure online experience.
Join the movement #privacyfirst