How to Start Protecting Yourself Online Today

How to Start Protecting Yourself Online Today 

Whenever we head out the door, we will lock up our homes and keep our pockets zipped up. This is to protect our belongings against any slim chances of theft. However, it’s so much easier to protect your physical belongings than your virtual ones. There are less of them, they can be locked away, you can set an alarm, and we have the advantage of being vigilant about anyone who may be going for our phone or wallet. 

Protecting ourselves online is much harder. All of our data — from login details to personal information to even our buying habits — can be exploited for financial gain. Sometimes you won’t notice the breach because it won’t be your computer that was stolen from, but another business that has your personal data stored away. 

Knowing how to protect your online identity is the first step to protecting yourself online, so follow these steps today:

Go Through and Find Old Accounts 

Old accounts that you don’t use anymore are big security risks, especially if the company has stopped updating their security and are generally running into bankruptcy. In these cases, old accounts are easy pickings for hackers. If that account has personal data like passwords or answers to security questions, you could face a hack somewhere else.

Update All Passwords so They are Unique 

All of your passwords should be unique. Every single one. There are tricks to help you remember all of these passwords or you can invest in a password manager that offers encrypted protection on every account.

Google Yourself 

Old accounts aren’t the only threat to your livelihood. Old posts, news articles — anything that mentions you in a bad light — is something you need to address. On top of Googling yourself, your email, and your phone number, you will also want to go through your old social media posts to ensure that nothing from the past can hurt you in the future. 

The data you need to worry about isn’t just slanderous posts, either. If you publicly mention key data, like where you were born, who your grandmother is and their maiden name, or even what your dog’s name was, then it is a risk. They are answers to your security questions after all!

Use Two-Factor Authentication for Everything 

If two-factor authentication is available, use it. This way you will be required to have your phone or access to another account to login from a new device or computer. 

Encrypt Your Data 

Most laptops will offer the ability to encrypt your data, so if someone steals your computer, they can’t just hack their way in without destroying everything private. This is more necessary for business owners and those whose laptops are worth more than their lives; but, it is still an easy and worthwhile step to take.

Use a VPN 

To protect your search history and online activity you will want to invest in a VPN, especially if you like working in cafes or other public spaces. Free Wi-Fi is easy for hackers to gain access to and hack into your data. 

The level of security you will want to go through will depend entirely on the data you want to keep private. The above list of suggestions can keep your personal data safe from hackers, but if you own a business or work with sensitive data daily, more measures will need to be taken. 

Is Your Website Safe?

Every website comes with some vulnerabilities, and with WordPress being such a prevalent platform for building sites it stands to reason that many attacks are aimed at WordPress sites. If you’re building a website using the WordPress platform it’s important to make your site as secure as possible and protected from attacks that come from a variety of entry points. As the graph from Wordfence shows, by far the most common way that WordPress sites were hacked were through plugins. Knowing that a WordPress site is vulnerable is the first step in making a site as safe and secure as possible. The question becomes how to minimize the risk for a WordPress site. We’ve identified three solid ways to lower risk while maintaining site functionality

  1. Use plugins from reputable sites that are updated regularly
  2. Enable security for your WordPress site, such as Wordfence that stays up to date on protecting WordPress sites from all types of attacks
  3. Keep everything up-to-date

Use Reputable Plugins and Keep Them Updated to Minimize the Risks from an Attack

As the graph above- an illustration of the results of a survey conducted by Wordfence– shows, the majority of all successful attacks on WordPress sites came from the plugins that those sites were using. An astounding 56% of all compromised site hacks were the result of plugin entry point vulnerability. The best developers are quick to fix any plugin vulnerabilities that arise. However, this does no good if the plugin isn’t updated on a regular basis. Keeping track of the latest version of a plugin and making updates whenever available is the best way to ensure that the vulnerability is limited for any WordPress site. If a plugin hasn’t been updated in the last six months it may have been abandoned by the developer, this is even more likely with free plugins as there is no monetary incentive for the developer to keep up with the plugin. In this case, it’s always best to find a replacement and uninstall the old and abandoned one. Staying up to date on your plugins, using only plugins that are from developers with reputations for producing quality work with regular updates to protect from vulnerabilities, and regularly applying updates is the best way to stay safe from attacks through the common entry point for hacks.

Enabling Security Features Such as Wordfence to Protect WordPress Websites

No matter how often a site updates its plugins there are always going to be areas of susceptibility to attack. It’s always better to have more secure measures in place when protecting a valuable asset such as a website that may contain sensitive information or be a strong source of business. Having an extra layer of dedicated security can do wonders for site protection. Wordfence can stop many attacks before even reaching a site through setting up stronger passwords, locking users out after a set number of failed login attempts, and a myriad of other ways. Trusting security to a dedicated service like Wordfence is always going to be the most effective way of shutting down attacks and identifying threats to a WordPress site.

Update all Software and Delete Old Files from the Website

Plugins are by far the most vulnerable of all the paths to a website, but there are other vulnerabilities that need to be kept up on. The first and foremost for all WordPress sites is to make sure that WordPress core is up-to-date. The WordPress team does a great job of responding when a vulnerability is discovered but that will only help the sites that update to the latest version of WordPress core. It’s not only WordPress that needs to be updated regularly, other software such as Adobe needs to be consistently updated in order to minimize the risks from attacks and reduce exposure to potential hacks that can lead to compromising WordPress sites.

Deleting old files and performing regular maintenance and clean-up should be a part of all good web management practices. Having old data floating around on a site is just one more way in which WordPress sites become exposed to attacks. By cleaning up and deleting old files that are unnecessary there becomes one less entry point at which an attack can make its way to a site.


Protecting WordPress sites is not something for which there is an easy, all-in-one solution. There are risks inherent in every situation and knowing how to identify these risks and dangers and where they come from goes a long way towards understanding how to make a WordPress site more secure. There are some basics to protecting any WordPress site: use reputable plugins and keep them updated, use security features and programs to protect the site, and ensure all software and data is up-to-date. These three recommendations will go a long way towards making your site as secure as possible but every situation is different and needs to be assessed on its own merits and needs.