Often, users give up even the thought of doing something to stay safe because it seems to be a very difficult thing to do. But actually, it’s about several simple rules anyone can easily follow. One doesn’t need any hacker’s skills to protect themselves from malicious activity.

In this guide, we will go through very easy-to-do things you can do to reinforce your online security. If you implement even a few of them, you will drastically improve your safety.

Regularly update your software

Outdated operating systems and apps host quite a lot of known vulnerabilities. It’s not that developers create programs that are vulnerable on purpose. Any app will have something malefactors can use to hack it. So it’s only a matter of time when hackers figure out those weak points. Once they do, vulnerabilities become known, and developers fix them and release an update.

It’s a never-ending cycle and there is really no other way around. Yet, we hope. Until tech guys figure out a better way to deal with hackers, we need to keep our software updated to stay safe from malefactors.

You can either allow your device to update apps automatically or check for updates and install them manually at least once a week. And when your operating system tells you there is an update for it — make sure to install it as soon as possible.

Use a VPN app

A VPN app changes your IP address by rerouting your connection through VPN servers and encrypts the data you send and receive during your online session. Thus, it basically hides you from any prying eyes protecting your private information. The iNinja VPN app covers all devices and operating systems, and it’s free — so there is no reason for you to not use it. At no cost and a couple of clicks, iNinja will protect you online.

It’s especially important to use a VPN app when you’re connected to a public WiFi. Wireless networks in public spaces are seldom safe as no one cares about protecting them. Routers usually run on outdated — therefore, vulnerable — software and lack security measures. Moreover, hackers can create faux WiFi spots and name networks after nearby popular places. Once you’re connected to a compromised hotspot, malefactors can access your online activity and even get into your device to place malware and steal your data.

By using the iNinja VPN app, you will hide essential information hackers require to harm you. Then they will see that someone is connected but they won’t be able to mess with your activity and device.

Avoid working with sensitive information in public places

It’s better to not enter your credit card data and log into banking apps when you’re connected to a public WiFi for the reasons we’ve listed above. Even if you use a VPN app — the connection to a VPN server might get interrupted for a second. So just be a bit extra cautious here and either use mobile data to perform sensitive activities or just do it later when you’re home.

Use your GPS and Bluetooth only when necessary

Also, avoid sharing your location with apps and websites when it’s not really required. Your location can provide a lot of valuable information to hackers and marketers. And while the latter will just annoy you with ads, malefactors can use your location data to harm you in some way. Create a habit of turning off your GPS once you don’t need it anymore.

The same goes for Bluetooth. This feature allows other devices to connect to yours, which means hackers can do that to mess with your privacy. Either hide your device from others or keep Bluetooth off when you don’t use it.

Use strong and different passwords

This mantra stays in all security guides for years. Yet, the majority of users disregard this rule creating very simple passwords and using the same combination for all accounts. It’s fairly easy to brute-force a password, especially with artificial intelligence. And if you use the same combination for different services, all of them will get compromised if hackers find out a password to just one of your accounts.

Today there are numerous cheap password managers that will reliably protect your combinations allowing you to create different ones as you won’t have to remember them. Get such an app and have greater peace of mind at zero effort.

Be attentive to emails, messages, and website addresses

Phishing doesn’t go away. In fact, it becomes more advanced thanks to big data. Hackers can now create more personalized malicious messages and send them at the perfect time so that you have zero doubts about them.

For example, they could compromise one of the online stores you use. And once you make a purchase there, you will receive an email with a confirmation of your order and, maybe, a request for some of your details such as an address or credit card information. You will think that everything is okay because you just placed that order, and maybe something went wrong at that online store and they need additional information now. So you will share the requested data. But what you won’t notice is that the sender’s email and any included links have a slight typo in them. Let’s say, the shop’s name is “Hammer”, and you received an email from “Harnrner”. Will you actually pay attention to this?

So always double-check the sender’s names and links you’re about to click. Also, don’t download files sent to you by unknown users via email or in messengers.

Don’t be so eager to participate in online contests and surveys

Sure, brands use contests to attract more people. But if you’re not confident about the host of the contest, or the prize isn’t that valuable — better stay away from it. Even if all you need to share is your email address or you just need to leave a comment under a post, in the best-case scenario, marketers will use this information to send you ads. And you never know who actually hosts that contest or who is watching over the comments to find a victim.

The same goes for surveys, especially if they request some personal data. The rule here is simple — the less information you share online, the fewer chances you have to become a victim of some fraud.

Maybe you shouldn’t accept all cookies

Cookies make the browsing experience smoother, but they also give away your data to the website you’re attending. This helps marketers show you more personalized ads. But also, hackers can use cookies to stuff your browser with trackers that will then pass data about your activity to them.

If you’re not sure that you will ever attend this website again, don’t accept cookies. Also, wipe your cookies from time to time.

Use secure messaging apps

Facebook has proven itself unreliable multiple times. So quite obviously, we can’t trust Messenger. WhatsApp belongs to Facebooks, as well as Instagram — it means, these apps are out, too. Telegram allows you to encrypt your chats which is a very useful feature. And Viber can be somewhat safe if you stay careful in group chats that aren’t encrypted.

Stick to HTTPS sites

HTTPS indicates that a website has an SSL certificate, thus, the data you share with it and your activity is encrypted. You can notice that there is a lock icon near the URL in your browser. When it’s locked, it means a website is secure. When it’s not — the site isn’t safe. Additionally, Google will usually warn you about an unprotected website as you try accessing one. Stay away from such sites, especially if you need to enter any of your data on them.

Don’t overshare

It’s fun to share your life with people on social media. But unless your account is closed for anyone who isn’t following you, anyone can see your activity. Photos and thoughts you share can become a rather rich source of private information to hackers. There are cases when people shared their vacation photos while being away from home, and that told thieves that the house is left unattended. So those people returned back home to discover that they were robbed.

The less information you share online, the safer you stay — remember this rule.

Log out of accounts if you use someone’s device

If you had to use someone else’s computer or phone to log into any of your accounts, make sure you log out before returning the device. While you could trust this person, you never really know their habits. It’s safer to do this extra step.
As you can see, these tips are very easy to implement in life even if you’re not very tech-savvy. By following them and using the free iNinja VPN app, you will reinforce your online security and protect your privacy while not really doing much.