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VPN, antivirus and unique passwords are not enough to keep your devices, identity and activities safe. Here are some vital steps that can protect you from virtual threats.

Use two-factor authentication Two-factor authentication can be a pain, but it makes your accounts more secure. It verifies your identity using at least two different forms of authentication: something you are, something you have, or something you know. Gmail, Evernote, and Dropbox are a few examples of online services that offer two-factor authentication.

Use pass codes even when they are optional

Apply a passcode lock wherever available, even if it’s optional. Think of all the personal data and connections on your smartphone. Going without a passcode lock is unthinkable. Many smartphones offer a four-digit PIN by default. Don’t settle for that. Use biometric authentication when available and set a strong passcode.

Pay with your smartphone

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Credit cards are not the most secure type of transactions. That’s not your fault, but there is something you can do about it. Instead of whipping out the old credit card, use Apple Pay or an Android equivalent everywhere you can. Paying with a smartphone app eliminates the possibility of data theft by a credit card skimmer.

Use different email addresses for different accounts

People who are both organised and methodical about their security often use different email addresses for different purposes, to keep the online identities associated with them separately. If a phishing email claiming to be from your bank comes to the account you use only for social media, you know it’s fake.

Clear your cache

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Never underestimate how much your browser’s cache knows about you. Saved cookies, saved searches and web history could point to your home address, family information and other personal data.

To protect information that may be lurking in your web history, be sure to delete browsing cookies and clear your browsing history on a regular basis.

Turn off the ‘save password’ feature in browsers

Speaking of what your browser may know about you, most browsers include a built-in password management solution. But security experts don’t recommend it. They suggest it’s best to leave password protection to password managers. Keeping your passwords in a single, central password manager lets you use them across all browsers and devices.

Protect your social media privacy

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You can reduce the amount of data going to Facebook by disabling the sharing platform entirely. Once you do so, your friends can no longer leak your personal data. You can’t lose data to apps because you can’t use apps. And you can’t use Facebook to log into other websites (which was always a bad idea). Other social media sites need attention too. Also, take steps to manage your Google privacy.

Don’t fall prey to clickbait

Part of securing your online life is being smart about what you click. Clickbait doesn’t just refer to funny compilation videos and catchy headlines. It can also comprise links in email, messaging apps and social media. Don’t click links in emails or text messages, unless they come from a source you are sure of.

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