The Internet is a blessing in many ways. It allows us to share information, solicit help, play online casino games at the Jackpot casino, promote our businesses, find free entertainment and more. Yet Internet users must be careful when they are online. It’s easy to become complacent and think “no one is going to bother with my simple account” or “I’ve done enough to guard my account.”
Once someone gets into your accounts your life can change. Identify theft, control of your webcam, online predators, hidden fees, malware, privacy problems and cyberbullying are only a few of the problems that can occur when your accounts are compromised.
Internet security experts offer nine important tips to help you reduce your exposure to threats and protect your privacy.
The first piece of advice that every security expert offers online users is that they should create complex passwords. Yet many people ignore that advice. It’s hard to remember a dozen or so different passwords and even more so if each is, as it should be, unique You want to open your device and have your information there immediately.
But don’t forget – in today’s era when one corporate hardware hack can leak data from hundreds of thousands of websites, you can be handing a thief the key to your most important information if you don’t secure your passwords.
When you reuse your passwords you’re giving hackers the opportunity to take the leaked data from one attack and use it to log in to your other accounts.
Some ideas that can help you:
- Choose your passwords carefully. Don’t use generic passwords or a password that can be guessed (your birthdate, your child’s name or ABCDEF123456. Choose complicated passwords that mix in letters, numbers, and symbols. You might want to use a password manager to help you remember all of your passwords.
- If you don’t want to pay for a password manager, write down your passwords in a notebook. Make a copy or two of that list and store it in your bookshelf or somewhere else that’s safe. Don’t forget to update your list manually whenever you need to update a site’s password.
Take advantage of accounts that use multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication involves the requirement that you submit multiple pieces of information in order to confirm your identify and enter the account. For instance, you might have your phone number linked to the account and, when you try to sign in, the site will send a code to your phone that you must submit in order to enter the account. Once you add in this code, as well as your password and passphrase, you’ll be able to get into your account.
Secure your connections. Don’t log into sites that have private information while you’re using roaming data or free, public WiFi. Such connections are generally unsecured and it’s easy for a hacker to access your device and information. If you need to log into such a site from an unsecured location you might want to invest in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which is a piece of software that creates a secure Internet connection from any location.
Use a Firewall. A Firewall is an electronic barrier that blocks unauthorized access to your devices, including your computers, your mobile devices, smart home Internet of Things (loT) devices like webcams and thermostats, etc. Since many loT devices aren’t equipped with security measures, this is an important security defense and will help you protect yourself against hackers who can use these devices as a valuable point of entry to your entire network.
Don’t click on a link that comes from an unidentified source or that seems in any way suspicious.. Many of today’s online threats are based on social engineering or phishing. Social engineering and phishing emails or text messages are those that trick you into revealing personal or sensitive information that the phisher then uses for fraudulent purposes. These can include emails that purportedly come from a bank or the IRS, phony “free” offers, online quizzes that promise you $$$ is you “click here,” emails that warn you that your device is “in danger” and that you must click immediately to download anti-virus software and more.
The idea of a phishing email is to entice you to give personal information or click on a dangerous link. If an offer sounds too good to be true or if the email asks for too much information, be wary. A good rule of thumb is to never share private information through email, even if the requester says that they’re from your bank, and to never click on a link unless you’re expecting something from the sender (scammers can hack your contacts’ email accounts and then send phishing emails to all of their contacts to continue the scam).
Share selectively. Today, thanks to social media, there are too many opportunities to share personal information online. Be cautious, particularly regarding information about your identity. Such data, in the hands of the wrong people, can be used to steal your identity or impersonate you, guess at your log-ins and passwords, etc.
Shop safely. Whenever you visit a website for online shopping or online banking or facilitating any type of monetary transaction you should be sure that the site address starts with “https”( HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) instead of “http “(HyperText Transfer Protocol). The https means that the computers involved agree on a code that scrambles messages that are sent from one computer to the other. That way no one in between can read those messages.
Also, check that there’s a padlock icon in the URL field. The icon indicates that the website uses encryption to scramble your data. This secures the transferred data so your personal information can’t be intercepted. There are advice sites with search tools such as the McAfee Site Advisor, operated by the McAfee anti-virus company, that gives you information about risky sites.
Update your software with the latest security patches. Make sure that your security software is set to run regular scans and turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it.
Backing Up Your Data
Keep your data backed up. A current scam involves “ransomware” which occurs when a hacker threatens to lock you out of all of your files unless you agree to pay a ransom. If your files are backed up you’ll be protecting yourself by ensuring that the hacker doesn’t have you over a barrel.