Set Up Private Internet Access On Your Device
If you’re reading this, I assume you either have or are considering getting a VPN (virtual private network) app for your mobile device (phone, tablet, or laptop).
These apps allow you to make your device a node on a VPN network, where all your internet traffic (including apps you install) is encrypted. This kind of encryption is usually very strong (using protocols such as OpenVPN, Private Internet Access, and some others), so even your internet service provider doesn’t have access to your sensitive personal information (like your emails, passwords, and other data you think might be private).
Nowadays, it’s a common practice for internet service providers (ISPs) to sell or give out your personal data to third parties (like advertisers), so it’s essential that you protect your personal information when using public wifi or other unencrypted networks.
Setting up a VPN isn’t difficult, but depending on your device, you might need to follow a few steps to do it securely. Here are some of the best tips on how to set up a VPN on your mobile device (and some other useful resources to learn more):
Use A Password Manager
It’s one thing to have a really strong password, but it’s quite another to have it readily available when you need it. That’s where a password manager app comes in really handy. These apps will generate random passwords for you, which you will have to memorize. While this might not seem like a problem, if you use the same password for multiple accounts, it becomes easier for hackers (or even just someone who has stolen your personal details) to access your accounts if they get into enough. If you use the same password for a VPN and for your email account or other services, then all of those accounts can be easily compromised.
A good password manager will generate random passwords for you, so even if someone gets hold of your personal details, they won’t be able to log in to your accounts using these passwords. Having said that, don’t put all your eggs in one basket; use multiple passwords for different accounts. It’s also a good idea to change your passwords regularly (at least every few months). If you forget your password or it’s stolen, you’ll have to change it. If you do this frequently enough, it’ll make your accounts less of a target for hackers. One more thing, don’t use passwords that include personal details (like your children’s names or street addresses). These kinds of passwords are usually easier for hackers to figure out.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Speaking of passwords, they’re useless if you don’t add a layer of security on top of them. Two-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as 2fa) adds another layer of security by requiring you to enter a code (generated by the app or text to a phone number) along with your password to access an account. This added measure of security makes it much harder for hackers to gain access to your personal details if they get into enough. It’s also a good idea to enable two-factor authentication on your email accounts, as well as other important accounts that you manage (like your bank accounts). If you use the same password for your email and other accounts, then it becomes much easier for hackers to access all of your personal details if they get into enough.
Keep Your Devices Updated
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is using an out-of-date device for online transactions. This is especially dangerous if you’re using unencrypted wifi or other networks (which are often the case if you use public wifi). To avoid this, make sure your device is always up-to-date, especially if you’re using it for important things like banking or buying online. Even if you think your device is secure (and perhaps even if it isn’t), it’s still a good idea to update it regularly.
Use A VPN For Banking
VPNs aren’t just used for securing your internet traffic, they’re also great for banking and other financial transactions. When you use a VPN, all of your online banking transactions (including card details and passwords) are encrypted, so even if someone gets hold of your bank account details, they won’t be able to do much with them (unless they’re specifically trained in computer forensics, which is a special skill set that most hackers don’t have).
It’s also worth mentioning that not all VPNs are made equal, and it’s important to choose one that is compatible with all your tech devices (including mobile ones). If you have an iPhone, Android phone, and a laptop, for example, you want to make sure that your VPN app works on all three devices (as well as other connected devices like printers and cameras).
Disable Your WiFi When Unnecessary
Wifi is one of the most popular means of connecting to the internet on a mobile device, and while it’s not a bad thing, constantly having it on (even when you don’t need to) can cause a bit of a battery drain. If you’re on a public wifi network and you don’t need to be (like at a coffee shop or restaurant), it’s a good idea to turn off your wifi when you don’t need it. This will help reduce your device’s battery usage and preserve its battery life. You can also limit the amount of data you use (for free or paid plans) when connected to public wifi, which is another way of conserving battery life. It’s a good idea to ask the owner of the coffee shop or restaurant if they have a WiFi sign (or bar) so you can see when you’re connected to their network. This will help you avoid any connectivity issues when using public wifi.
Additionally, if you frequently travel abroad, you’ll need to make sure that your device is set for international travel (so you don’t run into any connectivity issues when traveling abroad). Most laptops and mobile phones are set for “locally-generated passwords,” which can cause security issues when connecting to public wifi networks in foreign countries. Instead, you’ll need to enable “auto-fill” (a feature that most VPNs offer) so that any passwords generated by the VPN are automatically filled in for you when connecting to a network outside of your home country.
Take Security Seriously
You’ve probably heard the saying “security through obscurity,” which means that you shouldn’t rely solely on keeping your personal information private to protect yourself from online threats. Rather, you should also take steps to make sure your device and other online accounts are secure. Some of the things you can do to further secure your device include:
- Using a password manager
- Adding additional security layers such as 2fa (two-factor authentication)
- Tagging accounts you frequently use (so you don’t have to provide your password every time you use them)
- Keeping your devices up-to-date
- And maybe even some of the stuff we’ve already discussed like disabling your wifi when unnecessary or avoiding public wifi altogether if you don’t need it
- If you really want to be extra-secure, encrypting your data while uploading pictures to Snapchat or Instagram (and other similar apps)
- Or better yet, using a VPN to encrypt your data while you’re uploading to these apps (so if anyone gets access to your device, they won’t be able to see your data)
- Avoiding logging in to your accounts on public wifi
- And thinking of ways to avoid being tracked on the internet (like using a VPN or other tools to make your browser more secure)
- Protecting your PC and mobile devices from malware and virus
There are plenty of ways to keep your personal information private and secure online, and with a little patience and planning, you’ll be able to avoid most threats. Remember: security is a process, not a product. It never ends, so you have to continually improve your efforts to stay safe.