What are the best apps, websites and tricks for online safety?
There are multiple ways of keeping safe online, and one of them is to use apps like VPN, Antivirus, Password Managers, 2FA, Fake Email Generators, Link Safety Checkers, Website Reputation Checkers, etc.
You can also use some websites and tricks to check the authenticity of websites and links. Read on for more details.
It’s quite common nowadays to come across news of people’s computers or bank accounts being accessed by strangers and money being siphoned off, crypto wallets being drained of coins, being scammed of your life savings, emails being sent from your account to everyone on your list asking them to send money to some XYZ account, and more such cases.
It’s easy to read past such headlines, but it’s quite a painful situation for those affected by it. But you know what, it’s also easy to avoid being in such headlines using apps, websites and some nifty tricks to keep safe online.
Table of Contents
What types of apps can I use to stay safe online?
Your first line of defense when browsing the internet is Antivirus and Anti-malware apps and software.
They keep your system healthy and immunized against virus-infested websites that you might come across unknowingly or maybe through an infected file that you downloaded from some website promising free tunes.
What is an Antivirus?
Having a good antivirus is critical to the safety of a computer or mobile device. An Antivirus is an app or software that protects your computer or mobile device from being infected by viruses, and trojans, among others.
Viruses are software designed to corrupt your system and can damage files to the extent that they become unrecoverable. Trojans are software programs that are designed to look legitimate but instead contain viruses.
In a simple explanation, a good antivirus monitors websites that you access for viruses, prevent the download of malicious files and even cleans infected files.
It constantly monitors your system in the background for signs of any virus-related activity. They also scan any external devices that you connect to your computer, like a pen drive.
There are plenty of free and legitimate antivirus software out there that will suit you just fine, but these may be limited in speed and the kind of features they offer.
It is always good to go for a paid antivirus because their scanning speed is faster, they have more protection features, and they have people working round the clock to update the antivirus software because it is their main source of income.
What is an Anti-Malware?
Anti-Malware software protects your computer from, well, malware, which is software with malicious functionality. They infiltrate your system without your knowledge and depending on their functionality steal information or damage your system.
Most Antiviruses have built-in anti-malware but most of them are not so effective. So, it’s always better to go for specialized anti-malware software.
There are free anti-malware software out there but these may be limited in functionality or may not run in real-time. It’s always a good practice to run weekly scans if it’s not software that runs in real-time.
What is an Anti-Spyware?
Anti-spyware software protects your system from spyware. Spywares are a type of malware that runs in your system without your knowledge and steal your information.
An example of this would be keylogger software. Keyloggers record everything you type on your keyboard. Now if you use your system to perform banking then you could get into big trouble because it would record your User ID and Password which could then be used to withdraw money from your bank.
Basically, a hacker can get every username and password that you type into your system.
Again, there are free anti-spyware programs out there that you can use. It is however recommended that you get paid anti-spyware as they have better protection.
A lot of antivirus and anti-malware software are also able to scan for spyware.
What is a Firewall?
Think of Firewalls as security gates. They check everything that comes into your system from the internet and prevents unknown connections to your system, essentially filtering all the information that comes and goes out.
A firewall is a very important part of a computer’s security. They also prevent unauthorized access to your computer from the internet thereby preventing it from being hacked.
Increasing the security of your accounts
Now that we have discussed how to keep your devices, laptops, and PCs safe, let’s see how you can keep your accounts safe.
What is a Password Manager and how does it work?
A Password Manager saves your username and password (credentials) for a website or software securely. They are quite handy because it can get difficult to remember the username and password details for a lot of accounts across multiple websites and software.
With all the exciting websites and software now available, it is easy for a person to have hundreds of accounts.
A good Password Manager should be available on a mobile device as an app, on a PC or Laptop as software, and in a browser as an extension.
Some Password Managers also have the ability to generate a secure password. These may not be easy to remember but if you are using a password manager, you won’t need to remember them.
What is 2FA or Two-Factor Authentication?
2FA or Two Factor Authentication is like a second layer of security. Think of it like a second password that you need to enter after the first one, except that this password (called a 2FA code) is not set by you and is created dynamically when you need to log in to a website or software.
This 2FA code is generated by a 2FA app or software and changes every few seconds. This way, there is no password to remember.
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, codes are generated by 2FA apps or software that you bind to the account which will use this second password.
2FA is a very good way to secure your account because even if someone finds out your password, they can’t log in without the 2FA code, which can only be generated by the app on your mobile device, laptop, or desktop.
What is spam email?
Undesirable and unwanted junk email is known as spam and is sometimes sent in huge volumes to a broad recipient list. Spam emails mostly have commercial messages that you didn’t opt to receive.
Spam mail existed before the internet in the form of snail mail, where you would find your letterbox stuffed with unwanted commercial advertisements that you didn’t opt for. All this has now moved on to email.
These massive email lists are obtained by the sender via unethical means and also pose a risk, as these spam emails can sometimes contain viruses, malware, and even some elaborate scams.
Sometimes, we even classify emails that we opted for as spam because of the large volumes they are sent in. It’s always a good practice for businesses to keep email volumes low.
How to avoid spam emails?
There are plenty of ways to avoid spam emails or get around them, including having a separate email ID for signing up for websites, using some tricks (discussed ahead) to identify websites that sell your email ID, and also using temporary email ID generating websites/apps to gain temporary access to websites demanding your email ID.
Use a separate email address to sign up for websites
Nowadays, almost every website demands your email ID to access their service. This is a surefire way to a clogged inbox with marketing messages. You can avoid this by having a separate email ID to sign up for websites, which will help keep spam emails away from your work or personal email IDs.
Identify leaks using email tricks
Did you know that is it not at all difficult to identify which website leaked your email ID? Gmail and possibly a few other email service providers support the use of the plus (+) symbol in an email ID.
You can append the plus (+) symbol and other words or numbers after your email address (i.e., before the “@gmail.com” part).
You will also know if XYZ.com has leaked your email address if you receive an email on [email protected] from a website other than XYZ.com.
Using a temporary or disposable email address
Almost all apps and services today require an email address for signing up, as do most websites for shopping, entertainment, contests and coupons, etc.
But when you sign up with your email address, receiving tons of spam messages is a guarantee.
Now, this is not a bad thing if you want to know about the latest shopping deal, coupon or new show, as soon as it is available, but what about those that you have no further interest in? Once you give your email address, you can’t stop those emails unless you unsubscribe from them.
There’s also a chance of their database getting hacked, with your business or personal email address then ending up in a spam list.
Using temporary or disposable email addresses is the best way to protect yourself from these headaches. It’s easy to sign-up using these and you can also check (for some time) if they receive any mail (like confirmation emails).
How to check if a website is safe?
The best way to check if a website, app or service is safe is to do a search using the terms “[website name] scam” or “[website name] fraud” and it will easily throw up search results from multiple places.
An even easier way to check is to use websites like Trustpilot, MyWOT, Sitejabber and ScamAdviser.com. These will tell you whether a website, app or service is legitimate or not, protecting you from scams, phishing, and identity theft.
How to check if a link is safe?
We receive tons of links every day, whether it is through email, SMS, social networks, messengers, collaboration tools, etc. The best way to check if they are safe or not is through the use of link checker websites like Norton Safe Web, ScanURL, PhishTank, Safe Browsing site status, VirusTotal, Psafe, URLVoid that can determine if a link leads to malware, ransomware, phishing sites or other security threats.
We have some great tips on how to keep safe online, and you can check them out by clicking here.