Everyone knows how important first impressions are and, in our age of the internet, this is just as relevant for how you present yourself online. Whether you’re running a business, marketing a product or sticking to recreational use, truly considering your online reputation and how to keep it safe is an essential pursuit.
However, with the ever-changing cyber-landscape, it can be difficult to keep up to date with all the latest threats. This list of five steps is a great place to start to protect yourself and your reputation on the internet.
The Importance of Anti-virus & Firewalls
Malware is becoming an increasingly common occurrence for all internet users. These malicious computer viruses can get access to your computer and accounts in numerous ways, including spam emails, infected links, dodgy web pages or file sharing. More often than not, you won’t know you’ve contracted malware until it’s too late, and even then you won’t know from where it has come.
This means that it can infect your emails, websites and social media accounts and spam all of your followers with infected posts. If this does happen is can be detrimental as, once you’ve been infected, users will avoid your domains like the plague for fear of their own online security.
Because of this, it’s important to have software in place that can keep an eye out for things that you can’t. Try products, like BitDefender Total Security 2016, for a fantastic digital package that combines all the key features of both antivirus and firewall protection.
When to Use a VPN
For small business owners and working professionals, a data breach could be a disaster for your career. If any sensitive information that you have been entrusted to store gets out, then the entire online community will see you as unreliable and untrustworthy.
These data breaches occur most often due to the use of insecure public WiFi. These open networks allow other users to view and access your traffic easily as they leave your data flying around completely unencrypted. This means passwords, account information and credit card details, of you and anyone you may work with, can be easily intercepted.
Fortunately, this is where a VPN (standing for Virtual Private Network) comes in handy. This extremely handy piece of software creates an initial secure connection, encrypts your data and allows you to access the internet on-the-go confidently. If you’re new to VPNs, the comprehensive customer service at ExpressVPN makes it a great choice for beginners.
Conducting Yourself Online
Sometimes protecting your online reputation can be less about what you do to protect yourself, and more about how you act. Sloppy privacy practices can result in malvertising injections and your accounts becoming obviously infected, which, as previously mentioned, instantly turns away people’s trust.
While antivirus and firewall software can be a great help if you run into trouble, there are also several things you can do to avoid the problem in the first place. As these infections usually occur via a dodgy link or spam email, it’s important to be stringent about what you click on. Avoid opening emails from unknown senders, or out-of-character messages from friends asking you to sign up or open a new web page.
By doing this, you can significantly minimize the likelihood of stumbling across an infected domain and contracting a virus.
Staying Safe On Social Media
Social media can be an incredible tool for promoting yourself and your business, but it needs to be used with caution. Especially for professionals with an online presence, there are a few key areas that you should avoid sharing in the public domain.
For example, you might find those pictures of you, drunk on a night out, hilarious, but potential new employers definitely won’t. Similarly, airing grievances about your place of work or expressing loaded, and aggressive opinions, will never make a good impression. You might understand that you’re just angry, but for someone who’s never met you, it’s easy to assume that’s simply the norm.
Alongside this, it’s always wise to live by the motto “whatever goes on the internet, stays on the internet.” While you might think a one-off post won’t do any harm, there’s always potential it will come back to cause problems in the future.
There have been stories of hackers blackmailing Facebook users with details of affairs and other unsavory activities, found in their private messages after infiltrating their account, so this threat is real and needs to be treated seriously.
Preparing For The Worst
As much as following these steps will take you a long way to protecting your online reputation, there is, unfortunately, no completely foolproof way to stay safe. Because of this, it’s always wise to prepare for the worst.
Backing up all of your work is essential, not only to protect the original copy but also to ensure you can quickly replace any online content that becomes infected or corrupted. It is also possible to run full backups of website data, so that’s a great habit to get into. Alongside this, backing up important documents, and anything kept in cloud storage, onto a physical hard drive, means you won’t lose essential information if you do fall victim to a hack.
Looking after your online reputation is something that most people don’t consider until it’s too late. While there is no use in being overly paranoid about online threats, educating yourself and taking the necessary steps means that you can stay safe and browse confidently.
The five points are a great place to start, but there’s so much more you can do. If you have any other tips to protect your online reputation, then be sure to leave a comment below and continue the discussion.
About The Author: Cassie Phillips is an entertainment and online security blogger, who specializes in reputation management and online marketing. She knows the importance of cybersecurity and loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them stay safe online!