Although the internet is much more secure than it was ten years ago, there are methods for malicious actors to gain access to private accounts. Maintaining strong cybersecurity and online privacy is invaluable for everyone that uses online services such as banking, investing, trading, social media, and more. Continue reading to learn about two methods that significantly bolster online security.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a way of securely connecting a device to a distant network through a public network such as the internet. VPNs are a service provided by companies that encrypt their customer’s data to allow secure and private internet access.
A user connected to the internet without a VPN will send their data through their router that connects with their ISP (Internet Service Provider) which then connects them to the internet. This data is unencrypted and accessible by the ISP and any malicious actors.
A user connected to the internet with a VPN will operate similarly, but their data is passed through the VPN provider first. This data is securely encrypted by the VPN and will not be accessible even by the ISP that it passes through. Only the VPN user will know what the data contains provided the VPN service does not keep logs or data.
While the key benefits of a VPN are online privacy through data encryption, a VPN also provides a plethora of other benefits including:
- Secure data while on public Wi-Fi
- Bypass ISP restrictions (Such as Data Throttling)
- Bypass Government restrictions (China, for example, blocks many websites, a VPN can circumvent this)
- Geolocation spoofing, allows the user to appear to be in a different country to use services provided only by that country.
While all these benefits are great, it is good to remember the VPN provider itself can be malicious. Therefore, it is equally important to research VPN providers that value their customer’s security. Private Internet Access is an example of a VPN that values the user’s security as its withstood court subpoenas and refuses to keep logs.
Password managers are another way to increase online security dramatically. Password managers are primarily used to auto-generate strong passwords for every website or service users need to log into.
Password managers are useful because oftentimes data breaches happen on a given website, and users’ information can be lost. A user who has the same password for everything will then be at extreme risk as that one data breach has leaked their password for all other websites.
A caveat of password managers is that users will need to put all their eggs into one basket per se with a master password. When using a password manager, it is paramount that the master password used to gain access is strong and only used for the password manager. Many password managers also offer encryption and 2FA (Two-factor authentication) to provide even more security.
The key benefits of using a password manager include:
- The ability to sync passwords across multiple devices
- Users need not rely on memory
- Many managers will report weak passwords
- Set strong group passwords
- Auto-fill features that make logging in super quick
Simply put, password managers offer a ton of convenience and security for minimal effort. Fortunately, the market is full of great options such as Bitwarden (Free) and Last Pass (Paid).