There are two sides to every story, and depending on your past experience and who you believe, the internet is either a great resource for information and entertainment, or a threat to the very fabric of humankind. And frankly, it could well be a little of both, all of the time.
However you choose to conceptualise the world wide web, it’s a basic truth that there are many bad actors lurking on the web who want to steal your personal information or infect your computer with malware, should you not prioritise your cyber security. If you’re keen to take proper precautions and surf the internet with as many security blankets as is virtually possible, then you’ve come to the right place; here are 8 tips for surfing the web safely and anonymously.
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a great way to surf the web anonymously and keep your data safe. A VPN encrypts all of your traffic and routes it through a remote server, which makes it near impossible for anyone to snoop on your internet activity or steal your personal information.
There are many great VPN providers out there, so be sure to do your research before choosing one. Many offer free trials, letting you see if the service is appropriate for your location, preferred browser, and internet speed, as these factors can affect the usability of such VPN providers.
Of the many reputable VPN services, Surfshark offers a free trial, as do NordVPN, whilst some web browsers, such as Opera, actually have a built-in VPN. If you use one of these browsers, you can surf the web with a VPN without having to install any additional software.
Tor is free software that allows you to surf the web anonymously. It routes your traffic through a network of servers, making it difficult to track your internet activity, and is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can also find versions of Tor for Android and iOS.
Additionally, there are several Tor-based browsers, such as the Tor Browser and Orfox, that make it easy to use Tor. If you’re looking for maximum anonymity, you can even install Tails, a Linux-based operating system that routes all traffic through Tor. This is a bit more technical, but if anonymity is your top priority – perhaps you don’t wish to be tracked by advertisers, hackers or the government – it’s worth considering.
Whenever possible, you should use HTTPS when surfing the web. HTTPS is a secure protocol that encrypts your traffic. This makes it difficult for anyone to snoop on your internet activity or steal your personal information. Most major websites support HTTPS, so be sure to look for the https:// in the URL before entering any sensitive information.
You can also install the HTTP Everywhere extension, which forces your browser to use HTTPS whenever possible. Additionally, some web browsers, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, now mark HTTP sites as insecure. This is a great reminder to always use HTTPS when available.
It’s important to note that HTTPS does not make you anonymous. Your traffic can still be monitored by your ISP or anyone else with access to your network. However, it does make it more difficult for someone to snoop on your traffic or steal your personal information. And should you see a padlock sign next to the URL, then it signifies an additional layer of security, confirming that the website is encrypted using HTTPS and has an SSL/TLS certificate.
Two-factor authentication is a great way to add an extra layer of security to your online accounts. With two-factor authentication, you’ll need to enter your password and a code that’s sent to your phone or email. This makes it much harder for someone to hack into your account.
Many major websites and online services support two-factor authentication, so be sure to enable it whenever possible. If you’re not sure how to set it up, this two-factor authentication guide can help. It’s also a good idea to use a password manager, such as 1Password or LastPass, to generate and store strong passwords for all of your online accounts. Speaking of which…
Use A Password Manager
A password manager is a great way to keep your passwords safe and secure. A password manager generates strong passwords for all of your online accounts and stores them in an encrypted database. That way, you only need to remember one master password to access all of your account information.
Additionally, many password managers can also fill in web forms and credit card information, making it easy to shop online. Some popular password managers include 1Password, LastPass, Dashlane, and KeePassXC. It’s also a good idea to use two-factor authentication with your password manager. That way, even if someone manages to hack into your account, they’ll still need your second factor to log in.
Use A Firewall
A firewall is a piece of software that helps to protect your computer from internet attacks, and can block incoming connections that are known to be malicious. Additionally, a firewall can also block outgoing connections to suspicious websites. This helps to protect your computer from malware and other security threats.
If you’re using a Windows or macOS computer, you can enable the built-in firewall. If you’re using Linux, you can use a tool like UFW to configure your firewall. Additionally, many routers have built-in firewalls that can help to protect your home network. Also, be sure to keep your firewall and antivirus software up to date. This will help to ensure that your computer is protected from the latest security threats.
Keep Your Software Up-To-Date
One of the best ways to stay safe online is to keep your software up-to-date. That includes your operating system, web browser, plugins, and any other software you have installed. When software developers discover security vulnerabilities, they release updates that patch these holes.
By keeping your software up-to-date, you can help to protect yourself from these security vulnerabilities. Most software can be set to update automatically, so be sure to enable automatic updates whenever possible. Additionally, you should also install security updates for your router and other connected devices.
Be Careful About What You Download
When downloading files from the internet, you need to be careful. Many files, such as music and videos from official sources, are safe to download. However, some files, such as executables and application installers, can be dangerous. These types of files can contain malware that can infect your computer.
To stay safe, only download files from websites that you trust. If you’re not sure about a file, you can scan it with a virus scanner before downloading it. Additionally, you should have an antivirus program installed on your computer to help protect you from malware. It’s also a good idea to use a tool like Sandboxie, which can help to isolate programs and prevent them from making changes to your system.
With these tips, you can help to keep yourself safe when surfing the web. Additionally, you can also use these tips to help protect your privacy online. By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your information is safe and secure. It’s also a good idea to keep these tips in mind when using public Wi-Fi networks. Happy surfing!