Do you want to have the best online security for your day-to-day online activities? In this post, I am going to share 14 extremely powerful online security tips for everyone that will help you in protecting your system against the terrifying online threats.
These online security tips are easy to follow and extremely effective in keeping your system and online activities secure all the time. Most importantly, all the online security tools that I will incorporate in this setup are entirely free.
Online Security Tips for Network Security Settings
To get started with the best online security practices, let’s begin first with network security settings. To have the most secure network settings, we must first press the Windows key and search for, Network and Sharing Center.
After you get there, you will see the option called Windows Firewall at the bottom. You can click on that and then click on Turn Windows Firewall on or off. Next, turn on the Firewall for both Home and Public networks. After that, click on OK.
Now, get back to the Network and Sharing Center. Next, click on Change advanced sharing settings, and these will allow us to make some tweaks to both Home and Public networks. However, we will concentrate mainly on the Public network, and here are some of the settings that you need to do for the Public network:
- Turn off network discovery under the Network discovery tab
- Turn off file and printer sharing under the File and printer sharing tab
- Turn off Public folder sharing under the Public folder sharing tab
- Use 128-bit encryption Under the file sharing connections tab
- Turn on password protected sharing
The next best thing to ensure good online security, is to create some outbound rules, and to be more specific, we will create a block rule for every single application we have on our PC that uses the internet. The idea is to have complete control over which application should access the internet and which should not. For example, we will block the Chrome browser or any browser that you use.
To do this, you will need to press the Windows key and search for Firewall. Next, you have to click on the Windows Firewall, and this will open the Firewall. Then, you need to click on advanced settings. After that, you should click on the Outbound Rules Tab and create a new rule by clicking on the New Rule option from the right. Then, click on next, and now, you would get the option to enter the Program Path.
For getting the Program Path, click on the Windows key again and type Chrome or whatever application you are looking for. After the app appears, right-click on it, click on properties and copy the target URL. Now, paste the target URL in “The Program Path” field of your New Rule and click on the next button thrice. Finally, you could name the rule with the app’s name (For ex. Chrome) and click on Finish.
Now, if you try running Chrome, it will not work since it has no internet access even though your PC has a working internet connection. To get Chrome back to work, you only have to select Chrome from under the Outbound Rule tab and click on Disable Rule from the right. To block Chrome back again, you only have to click on Enable Rule, and this is how simple it is to create a firewall outbound rule.
Online Security Tips to Follow Every time you Run your PC
Many people tend to run their browsers at once right after they log in to their PC, which is certainly not the right thing to do from the internet security perspective. Let me share some useful online security practices that I follow right after logging in to my system.
Clear Cache, Cookies, Internet History, Temporary files, Logs, and Junk
Cleaning up the PC junk is another effective way of improving online security, and this will also improve your PC’s performance. To begin with, press Windows+R, type, temp, and enter. Now, select all and press delete. You can skip the files that can’t be deleted.
Next, press Windows+R over again and this time, look for %temp%, and do the same as the previous one. Finally, press Windows+R, look for prefetch, and do the same as in the former two.
Besides, I use BleachBit for better cleaning. BleachBit is an opensource tool, and you can use it for free. The tool is pretty easy to use. However, you need to tweak its settings a little before you can use it.
Here are the BleachBit settings that I recommend using :
- Select only Temporary files Under the Deep scan tab
- Check all the options for secondary browser
- Keep your primary browser unchecked
- Under system, select all the options except free disk space since that takes a long time
- Select all the options for Windows explorer and Windows defender
- If it shows any additional applications, you could select them as well
Run DNS Flush
DNS Poisoning is a hacking technique in which the DNS Resolver’s cache is filled with corrupted DNS data, which will eventually direct you to harmful websites. DNS Flush is the best online security technique to prevent DNS Poisoning.
DNS Flush is a straightforward process and involves running a simple command in your command prompt (CMD). To do this, you have to press the Windows key and type CMD. Once the CMD application pops up, right-click on it and run it as administrator. After the CMD opens, you could simply add the following command and press Enter:
Switch Over to a More Secure DNS
For best internet security, you could consider switching over to a more secure DNS such as OpenDNS. Choosing OpenDNS would largely improve online security against phishing sites. Let me explain how you can configure your IPv4 and IPv6 with OpenDNS.
Configure the IPv4 with OpenDNS
- Press the Windows key and look for Network and Sharing Center
- Look for the active connections and click on it
- Next, click on properties and then click on Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4).
- With the “Use the following DNS server addresses” selected, enter 208.67. 222.222 in the Preferred DNS server field
- Enter 208.67. 220.220 in the Alternate DNS server field
- Then, click on OK
Configure the IPv6 with OpenDNS
- Press the Windows key and look for Network and Sharing Center
- Click on active connections
- Click on properties and then click on Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6).
- With the Use the following DNS server addresses selected, enter 2620:119:35::35 in the Preferred DNS server field
- Enter 2620:119:53::53 in the Alternate DNS server field
- Then, click on OK
Run Zemana Antilogger Scan
Right after a DNS Flush, running a Zemana scan is the next best thing I would do. Zemana Antilogger is another powerful internet security tool that comes with various advanced features such as Secure SSL login, Keystroke Logging Protection, Anti-Ransomware, Adware Removal, Malware Scanner, Zero-day Malware Protection, and Real-Time Protection.
Zemana works fine even if you have the best antivirus for pc real-time protection on. What I usually do is keep my Zemana on till the time I log in to my Password manager, and then, I would usually exit Zemana to cut down on the CPU Usage.
TDSSKiller by Kaspersky is one of the best online security tools against rootkits. Rootkits hide much malware, and TDSSKiller does a great job in detecting rootkits.
What I liked the most about this tool is the fact that it takes about 2 to 3 minutes to complete a scan, which is pretty fast. You must use this handy malware scanner daily to enhance internet security for your PC even further.
Run Avast Antivirus Smart Scan
Next, you can run an Avast Smart Scan, and it usually takes about 5 minutes for the scan to complete. However, this is a perfect way to begin your online session. The scan checks for the various browser threats alongside making you aware of the outdated apps.
You can use the Free Avast Antivirus, and it is undoubtedly the best antivirus free that does a great job of detecting viruses and malware. It is never a bad idea to use Avast as the primary antivirus. Besides, you can do these two things for better privacy and optimal results.
- Uncheck all the options under the personal privacy tab since we don’t want to send any of our personal data to Avast
- Another essential setting would be to set the sensitivity to high under Full Virus Scan. You can get there by clicking on the Virus Scan tab.
Online Security Tips for Browsers
After running the Avast Antivirus Smart Scan and there is nothing malicious detected, you are good to go with running your browser. However, there are secure ways to do that.
First, you must disable the firewall block rule that you had set for your browser to give it internet access. Next, you could run it. However, before you start browsing and log in to your various online accounts, there are a few essential things to do to maintain the best internet security for browsers.
Clear Browsing Data
Clearing browsing data is the first thing you must do when running your browser, which will delete your browsing history, cookies, and cache. The way I do it on my PC is by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Del.
However, when clearing browsing data, you must make sure that you set the time range to “all time” which means you want to remove all the browsing data that have been stored in your browser so far.
I recommend clearing browsing data in the beginning and at the end of your browsing session. You can also remove the browsing data every time you have to log in to your net banking account, and this is an useful online security technique to beat session hijacking.
Check If your Browser is Up to Date
Using any outdated app will have many vulnerabilities, and hackers can make the most out of these vulnerabilities to get closer to hacking your system. You can check if you are running the updated browser by heading over to the about section of the browser.
You must check this religiously every day, and in case you ever realize you are running an old version, consider updating it immediately without thinking twice. After all, it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to update a browser.
Safety Check & Find Harmful Software
Google Chrome has two great security features now, and if you are a Chrome user, you must consider using these features to improve the online security of your browser. One feature is the Safety Check, which takes only about 2 minutes, and what it does is check if the browser is up to date, check if safe browsing is enabled, and check if there is any potentially harmful extension.
The next feature is called Find Harmful Software, and it usually takes 15 minutes or more once you run it. To run it, you have to click on your browser settings, click on Advanced, click on Reset and clean up, click on Clean up computer. After that, you could click on Find next to Find harmful software.
However, you must ensure that you keep the option under Find harmful software checked since you don’t want to send any data and system settings to Google.
How to Log in to your Password Manager Securely
You still have one more important thing to do before you can start using your browser, and this would be logging in to your Password Manager Extension. There are many password managers around these days, but I would recommend using either LastPass or Bitwarden. However, a lot matters on how you log in to your password manager.
For better online security, you must know how to use a password manager securely. For that, you need to have a strong password set as the master password. Besides, a two-factor authentication method should back this for a second layer of security. For that, I recommend using the Authy app on your phone. Even though you can use Authy on the browser or PC, I prefer using it on my smartphone alone.
The next important thing to concentrate on is logging to the password manager securely. For that, you will first need to disable all the extensions on your browser other than the security extensions. Next, you must run two programs on your PC. One program is the KeyScrambler, and another is the Oxynger KeyShield. Before you start the login process, check once if the KeyScrambler is active.
To check it, you can type some text on Chrome and see if KeyScrambler is encrypting the texts, and if it is, it should turn green. Just in case, KeyScrambler is in red, you can activate it by pressing Ctrl+Shift+K. Once you are ready, click on the Password Manager and enter your master password by typing on the virtual keyboard, Oxynger KeyShield.
After you enter the master password correctly and you are asked for the 2-factor code, you could get it from the Authy app on your smartphone. However, you must enter the code without using the virtual keyboard this time and let KeyScrambler encrypt your inputs.
Browser Security Settings & Extensions
I usually keep the “Save Password” and “Autofill,” “Addresses,” and “Payment” options disabled. I set the run browser in the background to off. Next, you can select Basic spell check over Enhanced spell check since the text you type is sent to Google while you enable Enhanced spell check.
I would usually uncheck “Report details to Google about harmful software” under Find Harmful Software. In site settings, I would disable flash, pop-ups, microphone, camera, and location.
Under the Downloads tab, you must select “ask where to save each file before downloading.” You can do this in addition to assigning a download location.
Besides, I suggest you always avoid saving your passwords to the browser’s in-built password manager. Instead, use a dedicated password manager such as LastPass or Bitwarden.
Another essential thing to do would be to always uncheck “don’t ask me again on this computer” and “remember me” on different online accounts’ login page.
Here are the two important extensions that I use for my browser’s online security:
- HTTPS Everywhere
- Malwarebytes Browser Guard
HTTPS Everywhere encrypts the communication between your browser and the websites you visit. Even when you visit an unencrypted link, HTTPS Everywhere will rewrite the http requests to https.
Malwarebytes Browser Guard does a great job of stopping you while you are about to visit a malicious site. Besides, the extension also blocks trackers.
How to Clear Clipboard
Even though password managers allow you to fill in your credentials while login to various accounts, sometimes you may have to copy a password or some sensitive piece of information and may want to delete it immediately from the clipboard.
Whenever you want to remove something from the clipboard quickly, you need the “Clear Clipboard” shortcut. You don’t need to install any application for that.
All you have to do is right-click on your desktop, select New, and then shortcut. Next, you could enter the flowing command in the target field:
%windir%\System32\cmd.exe /c “echo off | clip”
Next, you could name it as Clear Clipboard or any desired name and pin it to your taskbar. Once you have this shortcut, you can run it every time you want to clear the clipboard.
How to Create Strong Passwords
Another way to ensure good online security is by creating strong passwords. Most companies save your password using various hashing algorithms and salting. However, if the company’s database is ever hacked and if your actual password is too general, hackers can crack it using simple tools such as Rainbow tables and other techniques such as Brute-Force and Dictionary attacks.
You must also check if your password has already been leaked and present online out of a data breach. For that, you can use this simple tool. With that being said, let me explain how you can create a strong password.
A strong password should be strong enough to survive the most horrific dictionary attack even if the hacker knows a lot about you and your surroundings. In a dictionary attack, a hacker would use different specific words that the targeted person may use.
So, here is the trick to beat it:
While most of us are fond of creating our passwords in English, that tends to make things a lot easier for hackers to guess our passwords. So, why not try creating a password in any other language?
However, it isn’t safe to use a word from your native language since hackers are smart to guess that. For example, if you are French, don’t try creating a password using a French word, and instead, try creating a password, maybe using Nigerian words or Japanese words. For example, let’s take the Japanese phrase, “mata ashita,” which means to see you tomorrow, and try creating a strong password out of it.
The longer the password, the better. Use a combination of upper case, lower case, special characters, and numbers. Here is an example of how you can create a strong password using this word by incorporating special characters and numbers.
I request never to use this same password since it will be putting your online security at stake. You don’t even have to follow the same pattern, and you may try other combinations as well. Most password managers can help you create such passwords effortlessly. You can generate random strong passwords on almost all password managers these days.
Now, when a company saves this type of password in its database using a hashing algorithm and salting, it becomes tough for a hacker to crack this password even if one succeeds in breaking into that company’s database.
Improve Online Security Using a Multi-Engine Antivirus Service
VirusTotal is a free multi-engine antivirus service with 70 antivirus engines to scan every file. VirusTotal can be a handy tool for maintaining good online security, and it allows you to check if a file is secure enough to download or install.
Some downloadable files have certain malware and spyware in them, which the hackers deliberately do to sneak into your privacy. To ensure that you don’t download a malicious file, you must always download from reliable websites and official websites only.
Even when you are downloading from a reliable website, you must always scan the download URL with VirusTotal. To do this, you must right-click on the download button and copy the link. Next, you can paste it to the VirusTotal URL field and scan.
If everything seems okay, you may download the file, but you must upload the .exe file to VirusTotal and scan before you run it. If this scan goes well too with nothing suspicious, you are good to go with installing the application.
Online Security Tips for Email Accounts
If you think email accounts are safe by default, it might be a little wrong. Nothing is secure in the online world unless you follow the best online security tips to enhance your accounts’ security.
To begin with email security, you could first try maintaining two different email accounts with one for work and another for personal use. The personal email account would be the email account to update with your bank and other financial institutions.
You must try to keep this email account as private as possible. However, you may also need one email account to reply to your client’s emails, and that would be your Work account. You could use your personal account on your smartphone but use it only to reply to emails sent by your bank and other institutions that you have shared it with.
It is wise to use your Word email accounts for social accounts, and you may create a third email account for using with all the various other online accounts, including social media accounts.
Here is something interesting you can do with the two email accounts to ensure good online security of your email accounts. In Gmail, there is a feature called “send mail as,” and you can send personal emails from your Work email and send Work emails from your Personal email account by using this feature.
Apart from this, you must never click on any unknown link sent via email to any of your email accounts. You can always scan it before you click on the link and get to the webpage. For that, you could install the VT4 Browser, which will scan the link on VirusTotal. You must also ensure that you scan attachments with VirusTotal before you run them.
Never get to your bank’s website or any other financial website using a link sent to you through an email, even if it looks too genuine. That way, you may fall prey to Phishing. You can always get to your bank website by searching it on your browser with safe search enabled. Besides, you can bookmark that page for quick access. Follow this rule for every single account that matters to you.
Best Online Security Tips for Weekend
Full Rootkit Scan can take an hour or more, which is why you can’t afford to do it every day. However, it is wise to have a full rootkit scan of your system every weekend to ensure maximum online security on your system. You can start with the Avast Rootkit Scan, which is a free feature. After that, you may run the KL Detector program to detect keyloggers.
To run the KL Detector, you may have to disable your antivirus for some time. Next, you can run an unwanted application scan on Norton Power Eraser. Norton Power Eraser is a free but powerful tool. Further, you can run a RogueKiller Scan and a Malwarebytes Scan.
However, you must not use these programs daily since running more than one antivirus can cause system conflicts, but as long as you stop one and run another program, you should not face any such problem for sure.
Another wise thing to do on the weekend is to change the passwords of your important accounts for better online security. However, there is a smart way to do it other than exposing the password at the time of creation itself.
If you want to change the password of your Gmail/Google account, you can simply click on the change password option from the Gmail settings, or you may do it from the security option of your Google account. However, before getting to the change password page, you must make sure that you are logged in to your password manager.
Once you get to the “change password” page for an account and if your password manager has already saved the password for this account, you could simply edit the details of that account in your password manager first. You can write down the previous password on a paper or even copy it to the notepad since you can change it to a new password.
Now, get to your account details in the password manager, generate a new password and save it to overwrite the old password. So far, you didn’t have to copy a single character of your new password or even type one on the notepad.
Next, you can simply allow your password manager to fill in the “change password” fields. Usually, you have to enter a password field and confirm by re-entering the password. Sometimes, you may also have to specify the old password, and this is when you might need the old password that you had copied to your notepad. Next, you can save it.
WebCam & Microphone Settings for Better Online Security
A lot of us are pretty careless about the WebCam and Microphone security. If you have not taken it seriously as yet either, it’s time that you go about it wisely from now on. To ensure good online security, paste a sticky note on the webcam side and use it as a shutter on your webcam whenever you are not using your webcam. Besides, restricts all the applications on both PC and browser from accessing your webcam.
You can enable and disable the webcam from the Imaging devices in Device Manager. For that, you could simply click on the Imaging devices, right-click on your camera and choose “disable” to switch it off. On the Chrome browser, you could go to site settings and then click on the camera. Next, you could enable the option, ask before accessing it. It is pretty much the same in every browser.
As far as Microphone security goes, click on the Windows button and search for Sound and click the Sound that appears under the control panel. Next, you must get to the recording tab, right-click on the active microphone, select disable and click on OK. That should disable the microphone on your PC, and this also an excellent way to have good online security.
Shred Files Instead of Deleting to Improve Online Security
Delete permanently is undoubtedly not a good option for deleting your confidential documents from the PC since they can be quickly recovered and restored using software such as Recuva. You need to shred such files, which will ensure that no one can ever get access to them for good online security.
For shedding files on your PC, you could use BleachBit, which is an opensource tool. Even AVG Free Antivirus offers this feature for free, and the feature is called File Shred.
Virtual Private Network (VPN): When to Use and When to Not?
You can use VPN or Virtual Private Network to access geo-restricted content or hide your actual IP address. However, you must know when to use it and when to not for good online security. Browsing with a VPN on is always a good idea, and that way, your real IP is less exposed to online threats and trackers, but what if the VPN service itself passes your real IP to some trackers.
It does happen unless you pick a reliable Free VPN service or a Paid VPN service. I prefer not keeping my VPN on while login into any online account, and you must not keep your VPN on while logging into your Netbanking at any cost.
The best time to use a VPN is when you are using a Public WiFi for online security, to hide what you are browsing about from men in the middle. I found CyberGhost, Windscribe, TunnelBear, and ProtonVPN to be good Free VPN options.
Improve Online Security Using Folder Encryption and Cloud Encryption
For those who have confidential files on PC, it is wise to place them in an encrypted folder for online security, and this is when VeraCrypt comes in handy. VeraCrypt is entirely free for use and using this tool, you can create an encrypted folder with a strong password.
You may use your password manager to get a randomly generated password. However, make sure you save the password in your password manager since you would need it almost every day to decrypt your encrypted folder.
Cloud Drives such a DropBox and Google Drive may need extra encryption when you have confidential files in them. For that, you could use a free internet security tool called the Boxcryptor. Boxcryptor supports more than 30 cloud providers.
However, the free version supports only one cloud storage. Once you enable Boxcryptor for any of your cloud providers, even your cloud provider would not be able to mess with the data you stored in its cloud storage. Besides, this can also be an extra layer of protection for your cloud storage if even your cloud provider ever experiences any data breach.
What’s a strong password?
Using strong passwords is one of the best online security practices. A strong password is a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Besides, you must use a phrase that is too difficult to guess. You must use the Upper case and the Lower case to make your password even more robust.
How to do a DNS Flush?
DNS Flush is done to prevent DNS Poisoning and an effective online security practice against DNS Poisoning. To do a DNS Flush, run your CMD Prompt as an administrator, enter the following command and hit enter: ipconfig /flushdns.
How to shred a file on a PC?
When you delete a file permanently, one can still recover the file using various file recovery tools. However, Shredding a file removes a file from the system and ensures that it is not recoverable at all. BleachBit is an open-source tool you can use for shredding files on your system.
Should we keep the VPN on while login into our online accounts?
I suggest you keep your VPN off while login into your online accounts, and while you are login into your net banking account, don’t even think of using a VPN. Instead, you could use a secure DNS such as OpenDNS and, besides, you can do a DNS flush and keep HTTPS Everywhere enabled for good online security of your browser.
Besides, avoid typing or pasting your credentials while logging into online accounts and, instead, use a password manager. After the password manager detects the account, you could simply click on the account in the password manager, and this should fill the credentials in the right fields.
When should we use KeyScrambler?
KeyScrambler is one of the best online security tools. You can use KeyScrambler every time you have to enter a 2-factor code. The tool will encrypt every single input, and even if there is a keylogger in your system, it won’t be able to capture your typed info.
The internet is surrounded by a lot of online threats these days. However, maintaining good online security is not difficult as long as you follow the various tips mentioned in this post. Of course, it will take you a bit of practice to follow these tips religiously.
Most importantly, in this post, I have mentioned only the best online security tools that are free, and you can use them as well without having to pay a single penny. Further, I made sure that I include only the most reliable and useful internet security tools. If you find this post helpful, you must consider sharing it with your loved ones, to help them stay secure in the online world.