The online world is magnificent. Its near-infinite amount of data has created a reality in which everyone has endless resources, nothing is too ambitious, and community is easy to achieve.

Of course, once you step back into the offline world, the web can seem like a den of tigers. All of its benefits come with major risks: your very identity is vulnerable. It is impossible to use the internet with a foolproof guarantee that you won’t be tracked. Everything is linked, and you’ll leave a digital trail no matter how hard you try to erase it.

Nonetheless, there are security measures you can take to make the web that much more safe. These are 3 online security guidelines you need to follow.

  1. Get a VPN… now

Are you currently using a VPN (virtual private network)? If the answer is no, I recommend you stop reading and take action immediately. That might sound a little drastic. After all, you’re simply reading an article right now. This won’t compromise your safety. However, because our entire lives are now online, the risk of a hacker tracking you and stealing your very identity is a possibility no matter what you’re using the internet for. Just the act of typing itself can be tracked, leaving you vulnerable every time you enter credit card details, passwords, and even shipping details.

A VPN encrypts all your data online, and hides your location. This goes a long way to making it difficult for hackers to target you. And while it is not fail-proof, the fact that you’re more secure than most web users will discourage hackers from bothering. Make sure you read some VPN reviews before choosing the best option.

  1. Use a password manager

Password managers have their pros and cons. The pros are, of course, that you get strong passwords that you don’t need to struggle to remember, you can use unique passwords for every site, and you don’t need to type in your password each time. With hackers able to get control of your keyboard, that last can be essential.

The major con is that, if the provider is hacked, your data might be at risk of falling into the wrong hands. And, unfortunately, this has happened before. Despite this, if you choose a reliable password manager, you’re almost certainly safer. Even if they get hacked, they have measures in place to immediately inform you and provide measures to allow you to change your login details without delay.

  1. Don’t use dodgy websites

This might be a hard sell. Websites like The Pirate Bay and ProjectFreeTv make it possible for those of us in African countries to access content that is simply not available here. However, they come with significant risks. These websites are rife with malware and viruses lurking around every corner. You are immediately at risk when you make the decision to use these web pages.

I understand if you’re not willing to give up on the content you’re already invested in. A good alternative might be to sign up for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. and use a VPN to make it appear that you’re in a different location. If you do decide to use dodgy websites, make sure you’re using a VPN and don’t ever offer them your credit card details.