Is it still safe to use the internet in 2020? by Florian Pauly


When the World Wide Web became available for public use Tim Berners-Lee had no idea of the impact it would have on the world. Today, more than 4.39 billion people use the internet and that number rises every day. While the internet brought a lot of good, some people have exploited it. We are talking about hackers and cyber-criminals. This brings about the question: is it still safe to use the internet going into 2020?

What you have to worry about

The first-ever computer worm to gain mass media attention arrived during 1988 and worms continually evolve. Today, viruses and malware have become a pandemic for which there seems to be no permanent cure. Cyber-attacks are evolving constantly and happen on an almost daily basis. Today, attacks occur in all sizes and shapes involving individuals to large companies, worldwide. From individuals having their identity and lives stolen to customer accounts being breached and huge amounts of money stolen, hacking can happen to anyone. Never has there been more need to remain secure online. While hackers and cyber-criminals use technology that advances with each passing year, so do security measures.

Steps you can take to remain secure

Here we are going to look at some of the steps you can take to ensure you remain secure online. They range from steps that are simple, but which are easily overlooked and forgotten, to the more complex and secure measures.

1 Choose complex passwords

Let’s start with passwords. User accounts from your online banking app or website to social media websites all rely on passwords. 

Complex passwords are easy to forget and may leave you locked out of your account. However, if you choose passwords that are easy for you to remember, they are also easy for hackers and cyber-criminals to guess. 

It can be surprising how many people use their date of birth, house number, postcode or something relatable as passwords. 

Hackers can find out your date of birth, often through social media, and they can use the same methods to discover your house number. Once they have your password, they can breach your accounts to discover more information about you or take over your identity.

Therefore, it pays to use complex passwords with a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. If you have trouble remembering passwords, use a password manager. 

2 Use 2-factor authentication

Along with choosing complex passwords, you should also take advantage of 2-factor authentication offered.

Today, many sites and accounts that you sign up to allow you to turn on 2-factor authentication. With this turned on, even if someone manages to break your password, they still cannot enter your account without a special code. 

This code is generally sent to your mobile phone and is generated on the fly each time you access your account. 

3 Use a VPN

By far the best way to protect yourself online is to take out a plan with a VPN provider. 

When using a VPN, you can connect to a server from any of the ones around the world supported. When connected to a server, your own IP address is masked and you get one from the server. 

This means no one can find out any information from your IP address and no one knows where you are actually located. 

The connection to the server also provides you with military-grade encryption. With encryption, no one can see what you are doing online. Hackers cannot read passwords or information you type and even your own ISP has no idea what websites you visit or what you download.

In essence, a VPN covers your tracks online. Some providers offer additional benefits to ward off malware and stop websites from tracking you, which helps you to remain safe on the internet. 

4 Make sure your firewall and virus software is up to date

It goes without saying; you should use virus and malware software on your device. 

However, it does need to be updated constantly to counteract the latest viruses and malware. Many free to use software does not update on its own. So, with this in mind, always check to ensure yours is up to date.

Preferably, choose software that resides in the background of your computer running constantly while you browse. This way, it detects threats as you browse and acts immediately. You might have to pay for this but in the long-term it can pay for itself. 

5 Don’t click on links you don’t recognise

Finally, viruses and malware may be spread to your computer or device by clicking on links sent to your email account.

Malware can be embedded in the links so that when you click on it a small piece of software self-installs and keeps track of everything you do, including your passwords and usernames. 

Another way hackers use email is to send emails that look as though they have come from your bank account or PayPal. The email often states your account is compromised and you need to click the link to change your password. 

In fact, the link is bogus, although very convincing. When you click the link, the hacker gets your account details and can sign in and steal from you.

In Summary

The internet is still a great place despite some individuals and groups being determined to make it otherwise.

With a little fortitude on your part, it is still safe to use the internet. By using a combination of any or all of the above security measures, you can remain safe and secure online.

About the Author:

Florian is a tech-savvy expert, dedicated to educating people on Online Security. He’s the founder of, a website that aims at testing and comparing the different VPN providers. 

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March 4, 2020


Hakin9 TEAM
Hakin9 is a monthly magazine dedicated to hacking and cybersecurity. In every edition, we try to focus on different approaches to show various techniques - defensive and offensive. This knowledge will help you understand how most popular attacks are performed and how to protect your data from them. Our tutorials, case studies and online courses will prepare you for the upcoming, potential threats in the cyber security world. We collaborate with many individuals and universities and public institutions, but also with companies such as Xento Systems, CATO Networks, EY, CIPHER Intelligence LAB, redBorder, TSG, and others.
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