If you think that cybercrime couldn’t happen to you, think again. In 2021 alone, cyberattacks caused 1,613 data breaches, which affected 188 million people in the United States. And that’s just the number of people whose personal information was compromised by a data breach. There are plenty of other threats out there, including malware and viruses, and hackers trying to steal your login information and credit card number. Everyone is at risk.

But you’re not powerless to mitigate your risk. You can protect your personal information and devices by using a quality antivirus program, practicing good password habits, and using passcodes to lock your devices. Use a VPN to shield your online activity from prying eyes, and use multi-factor authentication to protect your accounts even when hackers do get ahold of your login credentials.

Install an Antivirus Program

Antivirus protection is just as important as it ever was if you hope to stay safe online. Viruses, malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks are on the rise and they’re growing increasingly sophisticated as scammers and hackers get better and better at separating people from their money.

Even a free antivirus program is better than nothing, but you’ll get more features and better customer service out of a paid software suite. The best line of defense against phishing emails, ransomware, malware, and viruses is a comprehensive internet security software that will provide email spam filters and protect your privacy while you use social media, shop, and bank online. Keep your antivirus program up to date.

Practice Good Password Habits

Good password habits are essential for protecting your identity, banking info, credit card details, social media, and more. You should start by choosing a password manager that you like and using it to generate strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts. If you’re using the same password for all of your accounts, then they’ll all be compromised if a hacker gets hold of the login information for just one account.

You’ll need a lot of unique passwords – one for your email, banking, and each of your social media accounts, just for starters. That’s where the password manager comes in. The password generator will help you store your passwords and keep them handy for when you need to use them. Change your passwords every 60 to 90 days and never give them out to anyone else.

Lock Your Devices

Your devices are just as vulnerable to physical theft and encroachment as they are digital spying and hacking. Make sure you activate your device’s lock screen, setting a password or passcode so that if someone steals it or simply gains access to it briefly, they’ll at least have some trouble getting in. Protect your devices from theft and be prepared to do a remote wipe of your device so that you can remove any sensitive data if your device is ever stolen.

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A virtual private network or VPN creates an encryption shield that protects your internet traffic from sniffing attacks. Hackers use sniffing attacks to observe your online traffic and even steal your data as you go about your business online. Your home network may be more secure, but whenever you’re using a public network you should always be doing so on a VPN. Even at home, you should use a VPN if you’re working remotely, doing online banking and shopping, or otherwise working with sensitive data.

Turn On Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication (2FA), creates an additional layer of protection for your password accounts online. Activate MFA or 2FA on one of your accounts, and then next time you login, you’ll be asked to provide additional confirmation of your identity, usually using a second device or account. For example, you may be asked to click on a link in a text, or enter a passcode sent to your phone via text, or even answer a phone call or receive a verification email to an alternate address.

The point is that, if someone stole your login information for that account, they still wouldn’t be able to just login because they wouldn’t have your phone or alternate email address to complete the login process using the second method of authentication. It’s a way to protect your login accounts even when your credentials are compromised – and by sending messages to your phone or an alternate email address, MFA can even give you a heads up when someone is trying to hack into one of your accounts.

Internet security is more important than ever, as hackers redouble their efforts to make a dishonest buck through scams and identity theft. Avoid making yourself a target – stay safe online.

Taylor Gilbert is the admin and freelance writer at How About Tech since 2020. He primarily writes Tech articles, How-to guides and Entertainment as well.