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Mohab Gabber
Mohab Gabber

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Online Security - A Simple Guide

In this article, I'd like to talk about your online security. This is meant to be a tutorial suitable for tech-illiterate people, so I'll try to simplify the topic as much as possible.

1. Passwords

Choosing passwords may be the most important thing you do when it comes to your online security. You probably have the same password for most or all of your accounts, a password that is a combination of your name and your pet's name, or phone number and home address, etc... of course, this is disastrous, because if any attacker wants to steal your information, they just need to acquire some basic info about you and they are ready to start stealing your accounts. You gotta understand that no hacker will be manually typing out passwords, hackers use wordlists, and wordlist generators, basically, text files that contain thousands or hundreds of thousands of password combinations, and if you are using weak passwords, it will easily be in of those text files.

The solution to this problem is very easy, use a password manager, which will automatically generate very strong passwords for your accounts and save them for you, and all you need to do is memorize one master password that you'll use to unlock your password vault.
Here's a list of password managers I recommend:

2. Multi-Factor Authentication

If you have a safe that contains all your wealth, you don't want to have just one lock, actually, you'd like a hundred of them just to make sure, the same idea applies to your accounts. Imagine this scenario, you have a Facebook account, Instagram account, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc... and all of them are made using your Gmail, now, let's imagine this, what if someone figured out your Gmail password? they'll be able to reset all of your accounts' passwords, and your online identity will be literally in someone else's hands, and that's why we have to add extra security to important accounts using Multi-Factor Authentication (a.k.a 2 Factor authentication).

The idea of 2-factor authentication is adding another layer of security to your accounts, you'll usually need to download an authenticator app, which will generate 6 random numbers that change every 30 seconds, which you'll use to login to your accounts, this adds a random element to your otherwise static password.
Here's a list of the best Authentication apps out there:

  • Twilio Authy (Free back up, so you don't lose your keys)
  • Google Authenticator
  • Microsoft Authenticator

3. Spam and Online Fraud

Let's set one thing straight, the internet is a very hostile place, it is not safe, and you shouldn't feel safe using it. Being online is like walking in the wilderness with no weapons or defenses except your own knowledge of security, that's why you have to always be on guard, always be wary, and never trust anyone, this might sound dramatic but it is true, if someone wants to hack you all they need is to impersonate a company or someone you trust, send a link saying anything (for example, "check out this cute cat") and this link will lead to a fake Facebook site for example, and once you enter your login credentials, it will be sent to them, and they'll be able to use to login to your account and change your password.
Follow these steps to protect yourself from spam and fraud:

  • Never click on a link sent from someone you don't trust
  • Do not download anything from untrusted links or emails
  • If anything is "too good to be true" then it's probably spam

4. Protecting yourself from malware

Malware stands for "Malicious Software", which is any application or piece of code that can damage, disrupt or gain unauthorized access to your device. Your device can be infected by opening PDF files from unknown origins, inserting infected USBs in your PC, running unknown applications, etc...

Here's a list of steps to follow to protect yourself:

  • Make sure to never open/execute anything from unknown or untrusted sources, and to download software from official sources.
  • Always update your system and applications to the latest version available
  • Delete any unused application, the less noise you have on your system the more secure it is
  • Run antivirus scans if you have one on your system, if you don't consider downloading a reputable antivirus software.

5. Backup

Always make sure to back up everything important, from photos to Word documents to even text files. you can use google drive, onedrive, or even Mega. literally, any form of backup is better than no backup at all.

I think this is a good enough tutorial for basic online security, if you like it, tell me what you think, and don't forget to like and share.

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