Whether or not you are open about your sex work and whether or not you feel like taking security measures, these are the basic points that ívery Internet user should follow by default.
Install security updates immediately, even if you find them annoying at the time. That way you keep your programs (e.g. your browser such as Chrome) and your operating system (Windows, Apple or Android) up-to-date and safe. This is even more important than a virus scanner. Sometimes (and that is only a good thing) the updates are impossible to click away and you have to install them.
Virus scanner and firewall
Make sure you have an up-to-date virus scanner and firewall on your computer and on your smartphone (unless it is Apple, for which it is less necessary). Often a virus scanner already has a firewall built in. Sometimes the virus scanner and firewall already come with your device (such as Windows 8, 10 and 11) or your provider (such as KPN and Ziggo) offers an antivirus package.
Always check the settings with every program/app you install. Usually the settings are too broad and it is good to set them more strictly. Especially with social media apps, it is important to check who can see your messages and who can send you a message.
Don't know exactly how to do it? You can find a manual for everything online. Tap 'settings' plus the program/app plus your device. For example: 'Settings Twitter Android'. Or: 'Settings Instagram Windows10'.
Some form of lock on your smartphone is an absolute must, as it is a device that can easily be lost or stolen, and your whole "life" is in it these days. You can choose from different forms of locking: a PIN code, a passphrase, a pattern, a fingerprint or facial recognition. The fingerprint or facial recognition is stored on the device, not somewhere on a central server. The police can force you to place your finger on the device, but not to enter your PIN.
Clean your smartphone/laptop/desktop ground before disposing of it. Just emptying the folders is absolutely insufficient. It is best to encrypt your phone first and then restore it to factory settings.
Here you can read how for the different types of smartphones: https://www.consumentenbond.nl/smartphone/smartphone-of-tablet-wissen
- Create a new, i.e. unique, password for each website or app. So don't reuse passwords.
- Create a strong password. Put some crazy words together, use capital letters too, and add punctuation and numbers.
- Keep all your passwords in a password manager, not in your head or in a booklet.
- Add two-factor authentication wherever possible.
- See if your passwords have been stolen in the past and you need to change them (see point 9).
Once you get used to a password manager, you'll never want to be without one. This is a secure digital vault for all your passwords. You open the vault with one passphrase, and that's all you have left to remember.
Some password managers are: BitWarden, Lastpass ,1Password or Dashlane.
Choose a (good, and sometimes paying is better than free) password manager and follow the manual from there. It takes a little more time in the beginning but you'll catch up as your password vault fills up.
Two-factor authentication (2FA for short) or two-step verification very much increases your online security. You put a second layer of protection over your data. Think especially of your social media accounts and your email accounts. A password can be cracked (whole dictionaries are released on it). And an email address is often known everywhere and is also used to reset a password. A two-factor authentication sends another code to your mobile (which a hacker probably does not have at hand). It works via a text message with a code in it or with an authentication app (like the Google Authenticator).
You turn on the 2FA in the account that you want to protect better. So your Facebook, your Gmail, etc. and then you go to the security settings within that program. Sometimes it takes some searching. If you can't figure it out you can always type into Google the words "how" and "2FA" plus the name of the program or app, such as Outlook or Twitter. Then manuals will pop up that you can follow. Or look up the program or app in this list: https://2fa.directory/nl/
Check out this website: https://haveibeenpwned.com/ Whether your passwords have been captured. That chance is very high because 11 billion captured acccounts are already known. This does not mean that your computer has been hacked. The best thing to do then is to change your password if it turns out that you are among those 11 billion.
Using the public wifi (in a restaurant, the train, a hotel, etc) is unsafe, because it is quite easy for someone who wants to do so to watch what you do or intercept your data. These days data bundles are generous though, so rather use the data (that's 4G) outdoors. If you take your laptop with you you could create a 'mobile hotspot' on your phone so your laptop doesn't need wifi.
Also give the router of your own wifi a (better) password. Look at the website of your provider (such as Ziggo or KPN how to do that).
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It reroutes your internet traffic and encrypts it. This allows you to access the internet more securely and anonymously, you leave far fewer traces (such as your IP address). If you are on public wifi you can turn on a VPN and still use the public wifi safely. In difficult countries, a VPN can be used to circumvent censorship (although some countries have simply banned VPN use for this reason). A VPN is also used to watch certain TV channels in another country or to be able to Netflix.
There are free and paid VPNs and it definitely pays to pay a little for them, after all they make good VPN technology for a reason (and just throw the invoice in your accounts). Well-known VPNs are Express, Nord, Goose or Surfshark.