Anytime someone connects to the Internet there is some level of risk. This could be a risk of having their personal data collected, stolen, third-party eavesdropping, and much more.
In order to tackle these risks, it is important to consider popular online activities to determine how risky each endeavor is. Once the level of risk has been determined, effective preventative measures can be taken.
General Website Browsing
For the purpose of determining risk, general website browsing includes online activities which do not require the user to login to an account or enter any personal information. These activities are fairly low risk although there are a few things to be aware of. The most common risk associated with general website browsing is data collection.
Search engines and websites will collect data about the users Internet usage habits. Since they do not have any personal information or accounts to tie this profile to, they will use the IP address instead.
In general, the only effective this will be a noticeable increase in targeted advertising. With website browsing there is also the risk of downloading a virus, malware, or spyware. Constantly having an active antivirus program and firewall minimizes these risks.
Logging into Personal Accounts
Anytime someone logs into a personal account the level of risk substantially increases. The most common accounts people login to include social networks, e-mail, online banks, and public forums. Some of these login areas are secure while some are not.
Most hackers target unsecure login forms and then use this information to access secured login areas. Since most people use the same username and password across all of their accounts, a hacker getting access to one account is the same as getting access to all of them.
The easiest way to minimize the risk associated with logging into personal accounts is by using a VPN connection. All of the data passed between the user’s device and the VPN server is encrypted. Even if a hacker manages to access the data stream, they will not be able to see what data is actually being transferred.
VPN connections also eliminate the risk of third parties eavesdropping on what the user is doing online. The most common third parties include ISPs and data sniffers.
Using a Wi-Fi Hotspot
Wi-Fi hotspots are one of the riskiest online activities. Of the estimated 5 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the globe, very few are properly secured.
Every threat associated with going online is amplified at Wi-Fi hotspots. If there is one location a VPN connection should be considered essential, it is here.
VPN connections encrypt the data stream to prevent the theft of personal information. They also prevent hackers from using Wi-Fi routers to inject malicious code and infect the user’s device.
Considering the most common online activities, it is clear that using a VPN connection can provide benefits online. It doesn’t matter if a person is casually reading the news or accessing their bank account at a Wi-Fi hotspot, a VPN connection provides increased security, minimize risks and eliminate threats.