As digitalisation affects more and more aspects of our lives, we should regularly check whether we use the internet in a safe and secure way.

Online security is one of those topics that seems to pop up everywhere, all the time. And yet, studies and polls regularly reveal that many people are still guilty of very basic mistakes when it comes to securing their online existence.

As the ancient Romans said repetitio est mater studiorum ("repetition is the mother of study"), so in this article we will tackle a few very simple things that you can do today to improve your online security.

For starters, DON'T put all your eggs in one basket. It's no secret that certain tech companies have a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to protecting the privacy of their users. Does that mean that you should never use any of their services? Not necessarily. But what you should do is diversify the services you use. For instance, if you have a Gmail account and enjoy using Gmail, then by all means keep using it. However, if you also use Google to do your online research, Chrome to browse the internet, and Drive as a cloud storage platform then it is perhaps time to look at some different offers. As a general rule of thumb, you don't want to give one company access to all or most of your online existence.

Next up, DO consider using a password manager. We have all heard the tips that we should never use the same password twice and that our passwords should not be too short, or too easy to guess. The problem that many of us encounter in day-to-day life is that secure passwords are – by nature – not easy to remember. Password manager apps solve this problem. They generate unique and secure passwords for each of your accounts and store them behind a single master password, which will end up being the last password that you will have to remember. But wait, doesn't this go against our previously established rule "Don't put all your eggs in one basket?". It does, but there is a simple trick that you can use if you want to have that extra bit of protection: The double-blind password.

What you do is you come up with a unique ID, i.e. a string of three to four letters, numbers, or a combination of both. When your password manager generates a password, you save only this password in the app but add your unique ID to the password you actually save on the website. This way, even if someone gained access to the passwords stored in your password manager, they would still be useless without the ID that only you know and don't save anywhere.

DO regularly check your privacy settings. If you use any social media platform, have a look at your privacy settings once in a while. Companies regularly add new options, either on their own initiative or, more often than not, because they have been forced to do so by new laws and regulations. When going over your privacy settings, ask yourself what you are willing to share with whom and don't hesitate to limit the reach of all or some of your posts. While doing this, you can also question whether you really need all of those targeted ads or whether you would like to restrict the access companies have to your data.

Whatever you do: DON'T forget to do backups! Alright, listen, this is a safe space, okay? We can all be honest here and admit that whenever our devices remind us to do a backup, we always click on 'remind me tomorrow'. But jokes aside, the importance of regularly backing up your data cannot be stressed enough. At the very least, you should back up your most sensitive data (work documents, online banking…) once a month and ideally on an external hard drive that you keep in a safe place. If you ever find yourself in a situation in which all of your data is lost for whatever reason, you will curse yourself to oblivion if you do not have a backup ready to go.

Another very simple tip: DO enable two-factor authentication. The technology has been around for quite some time and numerous services require you to use it nowadays. But besides banks and the government, many websites actually offer their users the option to enable 2FA. While a strong password is usually enough for more trivial web services, you may want to consider adding 2FA to accounts that have access to more of your personal information, e.g. social media profiles.

Finally, DON'T underestimate the importance of online security. It is easy to dismiss anything that happens online as trivial compared to "real life". But the more time we spent online and the more of our lives we actually "live" in the digital world, the more we should start treating with the same degree of respect and attention. Those with more sinister intentions have long understood that there is money to be made online because people are careless and let down their guard more than they would in "real life". While there is no need to become paranoid and move all of your online traffic to the dark web, we should start using the very simple tools and methods we do have to make our stay in the realm of the internet a bit more secure than it currently is.