In collaboration with NordVPN

Many Internet users make the mistake of thinking they only have to worry about hackers stealing their personal or financial information. But there are far more cybersecurity concerns than only the financial ones.

Cybercrimes are on the rise. In fact, new threats are surfacing regularly and according to the FBI, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, cyberattacks have increased by 300%. This trend has also been empathized by Google and they showed that the company blocked more than 18 million COVID-19 phishing attempts every day at the start of the pandemic.

Small businesses and individuals should proactively look after their cybersecurity as cyberattacks do not only hit large companies. 

How to browse the web safely?

While internet is used for entertainment, communication, productivity, and to get information, malicious individuals also use it to take advantage of the credulity of inexperienced users.

Example of a phishing email imitating HSBC Hong Kong with a dubious email address (© HSBC Hong Kong)

If phishing emails, these disguised emails that try to trick you to reveal sensitive information, are widely spread on the Internet, this is not the only risk and there are good behaviours to adopt, to make sure that you’re using Internet safely. 

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Keep your browser updated

Keeping your web browsers updated ensures that you have the latest patches for all security vulnerabilities. As an added bonus, you can get the newest features available. The top web browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Edge, update by default.

However, you should check them individually to find out if they are up-to-date or not. 

Several sites have stopped supporting outdated versions of browsers due to security and compatibility concerns. Hackers tend to target vulnerabilities in a web browser and this is the reason companies release regular updates.

Installing the most recent version will keep the device safe. 

Use private browsing and security settings

Private browsing can protect your private details and block some sites from search and browsing data. This will not hide the activity from the Internet Service Provider (ISP), but it can definitely reduce cookie accumulation

Web browsers have privacy settings available. Optimizing these settings will help to safeguard your information. 

Use an Antivirus

Another great tip for browsing safely is to check if you have an antivirus installed and running on your system. The Windows 10 system comes pre-installed with Windows Defender. Your system might also have a third-party antivirus solution included, based on where it was purchased. 

In case your desktop, device, or smartphone doesn’t have one, you should install one. Threats might be hidden everywhere, even in files downloaded from trusted sources or the most reputable sites. So, make sure you are well-protected with a smart antivirus software. 

Use a strong password and a password manager

The number of password leaks occurring when sites are hacked makes it dangerous to reuse the same password for different sites. In order to prevent password leaks, use unique passwords on all sites. The password you choose should be strong and unpredictable.

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But, it can be difficult to remember strong passwords for different sites. This is the reason why some use a password manager, like NordPass. These services securely store the login information for all the sites you use and even suggest new, unique passwords.

How does a VPN help with cybersecurity?

A virtual private network is a secure network that enables internet users to hide their IP addresses to browse the web anonymously. A VPN can maintain your privacy by encrypting data and internet requests prior to hitting the internet, and works no matter how you connect to the internet. 

In general, a VPN server can decrypt requests before they are sent on to the online destination and then sends the details back using the same process. This means advertisers, the site, and ISPs cannot track what you are doing.

How does a VPN secure a connection?

A VPN works by routing the internet connection of your device through a private service instead of the regular ISP. It serves as an intermediary between the user and their internet connection by hiding their IP address.

The VPN you use will create an encrypted and private tunnel through which your device can access the internet while hiding your location, personal information, and other data. So, any data transmitted to the internet is redirected to the VPN instead of from your computer. 

Why use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi?

A VPN is one of the most secure and strong methods to protect your devices and to make it easy for people to use, public Wi-Fi are generally not protected.

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A malicious hacker can easily take advantage of the absence of security to steal information. So, if you connect to public Wi-Fi without a VPN, you’re risking an unsecured browsing experience.

Using a VPN while accessing public Wi-Fi renders hacker attacks less effective. 

Can a VPN protect against malware and ransomware?

Using a VPN to encrypt traffic helps to prevent cybercriminals from intercepting it and finding out what you do online. With a VPN hiding your local IP, you cannot stop malware or ransomware but you can be less vulnerable to an attack by making it difficult for ransomware creators to target you. 

How to get started?

In Hong Kong, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs as it costs less than $HK 40 per month for a yearly plan, and comes with DNS leak protection, a double 2048-bit encryption, two kill switches, and many other features. The virtual network offers both security and speed. The VPN provider has a strict no-log policy. It has more than 5400 VPN servers in 59 countries, including 70 in Hong Kong and 120 in Taiwan.

At the moment, NordVPN proposes a Summer Deal : For 2-year plans, get 3 months for free and benefit from a 72% discount. Total, a monthly plan will cost $US 3.30 (~ $HK 25).

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