Online Security Protocols Protecting Your Devices, Data, and Privacy


Every week, we hear about yet another data breach affecting schools, factories, websites, and even government agencies. The reality is that these breaches can happen to anyone, and we all suffer the consequences. While we can’t prevent these faraway breaches, we can take steps to protect our own devices, data, and privacy. In this article, we will discuss various online security protocols that can help you safeguard your digital life.

Antivirus: More Than Just Protecting Against Viruses

When it comes to online security, antivirus software plays a crucial role. While the name suggests that it only protects against computer viruses, it actually defends against a wide range of threats. For example, ransomware encrypts your files and demands payment for their restoration. Trojan horse programs appear legitimate but secretly steal your private information. Bots can turn your computer into a tool for cyberattacks. A robust antivirus solution safeguards against these and many other types of malware.

Regularly Check Your Antivirus Protection

Although antivirus software can operate in the background and automatically update itself, it’s important to periodically review its settings. Most antivirus utilities display a green banner or icon when everything is functioning properly. However, if you notice a yellow or red indicator, it’s crucial to follow the instructions provided to resolve any issues. Regularly checking your antivirus protection helps ensure that you stay on top of potential threats.

Don’t Rely on Built-In Antivirus

While Microsoft Defender Antivirus is built into the Windows operating system, it’s not as effective as third-party solutions. Even the best free antivirus programs outperform Defender in terms of protection. It’s recommended to choose a reliable third-party antivirus software for enhanced security.

Renew Your Antivirus Annually

To maintain optimal protection, it’s necessary to renew your antivirus subscription annually. Enroling in automatic renewal ensures that you won’t forget to renew and may even provide a malware-free guarantee. If you decide to switch to a different product, you can always opt out later.

Consider Adding Ransomware Protection

If your antivirus or security suite doesn’t include ransomware protection, it’s advisable to add an additional layer of security. Many ransomware-specific utilities are available for free, so it’s worth trying out a few options to find the one that best suits your needs.

Understand the Features and Settings of Your Security Tools

To maximise the protective power of your security tools, it’s essential to understand their features and settings. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the functionalities of your smartphone, antivirus software, and other security applications. For example, test the “find my device” feature on your smartphone to ensure you know how to use it if needed. Make sure your antivirus is configured to detect and block Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs). Explore all the settings and features of your security suite to ensure you’re utilising them effectively.

Protect Your Browsing Experience

Most antivirus tools provide browsing protection through browser extensions. These extensions can divert you from dangerous websites, mark up search results to highlight potential threats, and enhance overall online security. However, it’s crucial to install and activate these browser extensions to benefit from their protective features.

Verify Your Antivirus Configuration

For added peace of mind, you can use the security features check provided by the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organisation (AMTSO) to verify that your antivirus is correctly configured. If your antivirus fails the test, contact tech support to resolve any issues.

Use Unique Passwords for Every Login

One of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to your accounts is through password breaches. If you use the same username and password combination for multiple accounts, a hacker who obtains this information from one source can try it on other platforms. To prevent this domino effect, it’s crucial to use strong and unique passwords for each online account you have.

Utilise a Password Manager

Creating and remembering unique passwords for every account can be challenging. This is where password managers come in handy. These tools generate and store strong passwords for each of your accounts, ensuring that you don’t have to rely on easily guessable or reused passwords. Password managers also offer the convenience of autofilling login credentials, saving you time and frustration.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication

Multifactor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts. Instead of relying solely on a username and password, you must provide additional authentication, such as a fingerprint scan or a verification code sent to your phone. Enabling multifactor authentication makes it significantly more difficult for hackers to gain unauthorised access to your accounts.

Use Passcodes and Biometric Authentication on Your Smartphone

Smartphones contain a wealth of personal data, making it essential to protect them with passcodes or biometric authentication. Avoid using simple four-digit PINs and opt for longer, stronger passcodes. Take advantage of biometric authentication features like Touch ID or facial recognition for enhanced security.

Embrace Mobile Payment Apps

Traditional credit card usage comes with security risks. Mobile payment apps like Apple Pay and Android equivalents offer a more secure alternative. By using these apps, you generate unique authentication codes for each transaction, preventing data theft by credit card skimmers. Additionally, these apps can mask your credit card details when making online purchases, ensuring your information remains secure.

Use Different Email Addresses for Different Accounts

Maintaining separate email addresses for different types of accounts can help protect your online identity. By using dedicated email addresses for specific purposes, you can easily identify phishing attempts and prevent potential security breaches. Consider using one email address for signing up for apps or services that may have questionable security, and another for more sensitive accounts.

Clear Your Browser Cache Regularly

Your browser’s cache stores a wealth of information about your online activities, including saved cookies, searches, and browsing history. Clearing your cache regularly helps protect your privacy by removing any personal data that may be stored. Most browsers offer a simple keyboard shortcut to clear the cache, making it easy to do on a regular basis.

Disable the “Save Password” Feature in Browsers

While browsers offer a built-in password management solution, it’s recommended to use dedicated password managers instead. These tools offer superior security and convenience, as they are specifically designed to protect your passwords. Disabling the “save password” feature in browsers ensures that your login credentials are securely stored in a centralised password manager.

Stay Vigilant Against Click Bait and Phishing Scams

Click bait and phishing scams are common tactics used by cybercriminals to trick users into revealing sensitive information. Avoid clicking on suspicious links in emails, text messages, or social media posts, especially if they come from unknown sources. Be cautious even with messages that appear to be from trusted individuals, as their accounts may have been compromised. Educate yourself about different types of phishing scams and learn how to spot and avoid them.

Safeguard Your Social Media Privacy

Social media platforms can be a treasure trove of personal information for hackers and advertisers. Take steps to protect your privacy by adjusting your social media settings. Limit the amount of personal information you share, ensure your posts are not set to public, and be cautious about accepting friend requests or messages from unknown individuals. Regularly review your privacy settings on social media platforms to ensure you have control over who can access your information.


Protecting your devices, data, and privacy in the online world doesn’t have to be complicated. By following these online security protocols, such as using antivirus software, enabling multifactor authentication, and being cautious about the information you share, you can significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and take proactive steps to safeguard your digital life.

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