It is incredible that cyber hygiene is such a new term, as it explains the subject entirely. It is the cleanliness of your existence in cyberspace. By being clean, we don’t mean what Karen would remove from music, or movies, or games. No, good cyber hygiene means keeping your devices clean from viruses and malware and the cyberspace clear from your personal data.
As is the case with regular hygiene, it is all about the routine. You are making the mindset to use proper tools to keep and become safe regularly, and not to touch things on the street that will make you dirty.
While the majority of these routines can be considered common sense by now, there are a couple that few people know about. If you have a premium VPN provider like Le VPN, your life will be easier. With it, you will have a lot more options, but you will still need to keep track of everything you do.
There is no artificial intelligence in the world that can compensate for the lack of human intelligence. Keep calm and play it smart, and you will be able to enjoy the internet in the best possible way.
What Exactly is Cyber Hygiene?
It is a general term for tools and practices that keep the bad parts of the internet, such as malware, spyware, and viruses off your device. Also, it relates to all the things you do that keep your private data off the web.
Cyber hygiene works adjacent to cybersecurity. While it is not the main thing for what is a VPN used for as is the case with cybersecurity, it is an invaluable tool here as well. Using such tools will make the rest of your cleaning routine much more manageable.
The main mantra of cyber hygiene is to prevent yourself from oversharing. In the age where we are tempted by both society and companies to ‘’get ourselves out there”, it is vital to take care of our private data. All of the data you do give in the end should be either partial or downright imaginary.
Cyber Hygiene vs. Cybersecurity
Safety and cleanliness online are two parts of the same coin. Both of these features aim to keep your person, your data, and your connections safe from any malicious entity online.
If we imagine your home as your castle, cybersecurity would be the walls of said castle, as well as the towers and the gates. It is everything that prevents the enemy from getting in. Cyber hygiene would represent the infrastructure of the castle, all the wells, food, and upkeep done to maintain it. One doesn’t work without the other.
In some cases, it is possible to have the best cybersecurity in the world, with all kinds of firewalls, VPN tunneling, and multiply software systems detecting and removing malware. This isn’t worth the weight of the electrons it is written on if you give a hacker your username and password over Facebook.
Because of the increasing number of threats online, it is best for none of your data to be present. One of the best ideas is to use a totally different persona for all non-essential communication. From a good VPN to mask your IP, to an alias on both Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram.
Long ago, internet users used to live together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the twitter mobs attacked.
In all due seriousness, making a persona to represent you online is one of the best options for those who want to stay safe. Thankfully, that is not as hard as it seems and can be quite fun. Even if you’re going to show your face, it is best that your name, address, workplace, and everything else be imaginary.
If you know what is a VPN, then you know that anonymity is the key. This avatar would be used as a VPN, but for your identity.
Finally, for any purchases you want to make from unreliable sources, it is best to use an internet gift card as a debit card. Additionally, there is an option of using cryptocurrencies, but as they are not accepted everywhere, a no-name debit card will work.
Once you have your online persona set, you will have a dummy set of personal information targeted instead of you. In the off-chance your fake identity is stolen, you can just discard it and make a new one. Additionally, you won’t have all the hassle of going through courts to show that you are yourself.
Very similar to keeping a home clean, the less stuff you have, the less there is to clean. Keeping everything tidy and not producing a lot of personal data will make it easier to keep track of everything and make sure everything is protected.
There are three layers where various data can be found, and it is always best to produce as little information as possible. Between your devices, your social media accounts, and the data you carry with you when you leave your home, each of us makes an extensive digital footprint. And we should know how to cover our tracks.
Each step we make towards better cybersecurity and digital hygiene lowers the chance of anyone hacking us and stealing our data. Similar to germs, it is impossible to be 100% free of all cyber threats, but that doesn’t mean that we should forsake our security altogether.
Layer One: Devices
If there is anything to remember from this, all section is that external storage is your friend. Even if your main diver is your smartphone, it is best to store all of the most sensitive data on memory cards.
Also, while anyone familiar with cybersecurity standards takes care of their banking information and log-in passwords, few people remember to protect visual and audio media. Your private photos, videos, and communication should also be considered delicate data and protected.
Personal photos and videos are the most frequent target for ransomware attacks. And, once somebody else has them, they will be able to blackmail you, or sell your data to others. While most countries have severe punishments for this kind of behavior, perpetrators are rarely caught, and there is little chance of securing this information afterward.
Regardless if it is a desktop or a laptop, your personal computer is the main treasure trove of your private info. All cyber criminals want access to as much PCs as possible. Even a rudimentary laptop will usually contain most service passwords and enough information to attempt identity theft.
The best way to keep your PC clean is to use external storage for all non-essential data and to connect that storage only when you need the data. This would include all of your pictures, videos, as well as documents.
This should work together with all the cybersecurity involved, including WiFi networks protected with a VPN router and reliable anti-virus program.
Even the best VPN will not be able to protect you from phishing scams you click yourself. This is why cybersecurity awareness is so important, as will make it harder to form a composite picture of your identity. Without an IP address and with no personal data on the device, your system is useless to the hacker.
Thankfully, there isn’t a way to hack over a disconnected USB cable.
When you have a business computer, either from a home office or something you carry around, you are in twice as much danger than with just your personal device. Aside from the individual files you might be holding on that device, there are the business files which may be quite delicate, if not outright confidential.
Losing company data to a hack due to bad cyber hygiene can lead to the loss of your job, your livelihood, but most importantly, your reputation. And these types of hacks are not rare, with even government computers being hacked due to bad cyber hygiene.
Make sure that you are using an appropriate VPN for your operating system. If you use Apple laptops, you should have a VPN for Mac that will protect you and hide the IP of your business computer.
Smartphones and tablets are becoming daily drivers for more and more people, which has both advantages and drawbacks. Having fewer devices with your data on them is always better, and there are good apps that can protect your device.
The downside is that you can’t really control what happens inside your smartphone or tablet. Cyber threats that target these devices might pass through multi-factor authentication; especially if we are talking about an app you have downloaded yourself.
Stay clear from any shady third-party apps and do everything on your mobile devices as you would on your desktop or laptop.
Often neglected when talking about online safety and security, the Internet of Things is usually a weak spot when it comes both to cybersecurity and cyber hygiene. Most users don’t even know how much data is stored in their printers, TVs, and other smart devices.
It is always smart to use a VPN router for your entire home, but you should also clear all data on these devices as often as possible. If you own a new generation console, construct the cables, so it is easy to turn off and disconnect these devices when you are not at home.
Layer Two: Social Media
Probably the most important part of cyber hygiene is your behavior on social media. As humans are social animals, we tend to expose ourselves online for some abstract form of self-affirmation.
Two-buck psychology aside, there are a lot of people more than willing to use that connection and to collect our data. And this is just the hackers and identity thieves, not to mention the corporations that literally make their money from selling the info we give them to the highest bidder.
What is the point of traveling all the way to Mykonos if there will be no family and friends to envy your online? While that may be true, you also don’t want someone else going to Greece with your credit card because you got your identity stolen.
Don’t overshare. Have a separate set of communication media where you have people who you know well in real life. Then, have an alternate account, with a fake name, where you can harass strangers with your selfies.
Note that everything that is said for general social media apps counts for double when talking about dating apps.
Give your real name only if the first date goes well.
Facebook itself is a dying platform exactly because they were really bad at safeguarding private information. Regardless, most people still use it to keep in touch with their family and distant friends. As those people already know you and who you are, additional data is not needed.
Your name and profile picture are enough; don’t even fill anything else. Keep your wall and everything else locked for anyone who is not your ‘’Facebook Friend”.
This way, you can still use Facebook Messenger and similar apps without giving Mark Zuckerberg and his reptilian overlords any more data to sell.
There are exactly zero reasons to use your real information on twitter. Nobody cares, and having a little blue checkmark nowadays will give you even less credibility than having an anime avatar.
Keep to yourself, don’t connect your twitter to other accounts, and don’t tell people your real name. This way, once the twitter mob starts attacking you because you didn’t support the daily cause you will not get doxxed or swatted.
If you have a face that takes nice selfies, pick out a pseudonym and go with it. If you already have an internet persona made, use that one.
As Instagram is a part of Facebook, online security, there is as bad as with the rest, but at least nobody asks for further data. Just be careful who you tag in your photos and always use a mobile VPN app when posting pictures.
The three previous platforms get the most flack because they are the biggest, but they are also the least toxic and dangerous of the bunch.
Websites like Reddit or Tumblr are even worse when it comes to online mobs, and places like Snapchat and TikTok also get their stalkers. If you don’t need these apps, uninstall them.
Premium VPN providers like Le VPN also have apps for iOS and Android. Always use those when going online, and always use a fake email address when connecting to ‘’alternative” social platforms.
Layer Three: Going Outside
Last but not least, you should think about your cyber hygiene, even when you are going outside. If you are planning to do some shopping, or chill out at a café with your friends, make sure that you are not leaving data around.
Some shops will ask for your email, phone, and other data for ‘’customer service’’, but there is no reason why you should give it to them. Maybe the fake email if you want to collect coupons or something like that, but your phone number should be out of the question.
From MITM attacks to data harvesting, public WiFi is always dangerous. You will still need a good VPN app with impenetrable encryption if you want to connect. This app should also have a kill-switch to disconnect you if the VPN is interrupted.
When going outside, it is almost always better to keep using the internet on your data plan than to connect to an unknown wireless connection.
Banking Information and NFC
Wherever you shop, you will leave your banking information at the POS terminal. While you can’t avoid leaving your card number, you can ask your name to hold the name. This way, the store will not be able to collect more of your data.
Additionally, buy a wallet that blocks NFC data. When purchasing something with our smartphone, we often forget to turn off the NFC, and that information can be swiped from close proximity. The new type of pickpocket doesn’t even need to take your wallet; they just need to download your data.
Passwords & Keys
If you are subscribing to a service in real life or leaving your actual primary email, set a brand new password. Make sure never to use the same password as you would for other devices, apps, and services.
It would be best to use a password generator website and to have multiple changing passwords. Otherwise, you can make a nomenclature system on your own to create new passwords all the time that can’t be cracked without the key.
Having a lot of tagged photos on social media, as well as sharing photos of your face from various positions with companies, can be very troublesome. If you are living somewhere in the West today, this might just be feed for collage AIs.
But, systems that use facial recognition to keep people in check, such as the social credit system in China may be everywhere in the near future. And, there is no reason to give the government more tools to control your movement.
Similar to the relationship between personal safety and personal hygiene, cybersecurity and cyber hygiene are mutually dependable. While a service like Le VPN can protect your devices with military-grade encryption, that will not be enough if you just give your data to someone directly.
Thankfully, most of the routine that constitutes good online hygiene are very easy and don’t require any additional tools and time. Just a bit of mindfulness and diligent upkeep and you can be certain that you will be safe and carefree on the internet even when posting the spiciest of memes.
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