5 tips to protect your privacy in 2019

Nancy Nunziati 20 Dec 2018

Make a new year’s resolution to strengthen cybersecurity with these five easy steps.

Go ahead, it’s all good. Promise yourself that you’ll invest a little more effort into your own privacy protection this year. It’ll be the easiest resolution to keep, and we’re about to make it even easier by giving you the info and links you need. You’ll be able to take care of it all now, in one fell swoop, bing bang boom. Our new year’s gift to you.

As a quick reminder, there are plenty of reasons you are making this promise to yourself, not least of all the following:

  • The world of cybercrime will undoubtedly continue steadily plumbing the depths of new ways to steal your identity, data, and money.

  • With net neutrality now officially a quaint “old way,” all sorts of tactics are fair game for companies and advertisers to track you, identify you, watch you, etc.

  • Net neutrality banishment aside, online tracking has blossomed into an all-encompassing activity for legal and illegal entities alike.  

  • With data breaches occurring so frequently, you really need to take things into your own hands.

So how can you strengthen privacy protection and match these more invasive times with a more durable defense? We’re happy you asked.

5 tips for better privacy protection

  1. Make sure everything is up to date
    Let’s start with the absolute easiest. A common reason for new versions of apps and operating systems is a security fix. Any older versions you currently have in use are easier to crack into than their modern counterparts. Update everything so that at least you’ll have the latest security standards working for you.  Quick Fact: over 50% of apps on PCs are old and need updating - See the full PC Report here.

  2. Upgrade your Wi-Fi security
    In the wake of last year’s discovery of the security flaw in WPA2, the Wi-Fi Alliance has certified a number of products with WPA3. The new protocol eliminates the flaw and strengthens security overall. Over the next few years, WPA3 will emerge as the common standard, but right now only some routers and accessories are equipped with the advanced security. It’ll be a slow rollout as everything switches over, but you can monitor the growing list of WPA3-certified products, and make the jump yourself when the time is right for you. Within five years, we should all be using WPA3.  If you aren’t upgrading soon, make sure you have changed your router login from the default username and password to something unique (and different than all your other account logins).

  3. Use stronger logins with strong passwords
    Password hackers have gotten faster and more sophisticated. And the underground cybercrime industry is so networked that as soon as your password is hacked, it’s added to a growing database of passwords that are bought and sold around the dark web. It’s critical that your login credentials and passwords are not only complex, but unique as well. Follow current best practices on strong logins, and remember to use a different password for every account. For instant complex passwords, use the free Avast Random Password Generator anytime.

  4. Use 2-factor authentication
    Chances are, you’ve seen this phrase a lot lately. That’s because it’s an extra security step that goes a long way to keeping frauds from logging in to your accounts as you. Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, adds a second step by sending a code to your phone or requiring the answer to a security question. You can even go further and use multi-factor authentication, or MFA, which uses special pieces of hardware as security keys and more. The reason everyone’s talking about 2FA is that it’s smart and it works.

  5. Use a VPN
    A virtual private network is your own personal encrypted connection to the internet. You are identified online by your IP address, and a VPN lets you shed your own and use its own instead. Your identity becomes anonymous on a VPN, plus there are several other perks — you can feel safer using public Wi-Fi, you are free from geoblocking and geofencing, you can get around price discrimination, and more. Try Avast SecureLine VPN free for 7 days and experience the difference.

Since we are covering all our basis, here’s an extra bonus tip:  Block all online tracking

Even on a VPN, your movements can be followed. The tracker may not be able to identify who you are, but they can see what you do. This is where anti-tracking software comes in. After giving AI-based free cybersecurity to the world, our experts went to work on developing their dream browser. The result is Avast Secure Browser, a free web navigator that puts your security first, giving you a control panel with easy-to-use security tools, including anti-tracking capability.

This year, we’ll be seeing plenty of digital advances, most notably the evolution of the smart home. Our lives are getting more and more dependent on the digital world. Our online accounts and profiles hold the keys to all our treasures. Making a resolution to beef up your own privacy protection is not merely a good idea, it could mean survival as we sail into 2019. Sure, take a cup of kindness for auld lang syne, but add a pound of privacy protection too, for yourself. Happy New Year.

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