Lately, we frequently hear about cyber attacks. It’s difficult to forget catastrophic events like Wannacry and NotPetya, which possess the capability to severely harm even the largest and most well-prepared firms. Cybersecurity isn’t a new concept, but with the advancement and widespread use of technology, the associated risks have also increased. It’s crucial to note that it’s not just large-scale cyber attacks against corporations and official institutions that pose a threat, but also online frauds and data thefts that target small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as individuals. That’s why today we want to share tips with you to help you stay safe online and steer clear of potential risks.
#1 Manage Passwords Wisely
Hackers easily steal information by obtaining batches of username and password combinations from one source and attempting the same combinations elsewhere. For instance, let’s say hackers acquired your username and password by hacking an email provider. They could then try logging into banking sites or major online stores using the same username and password combination. To prevent one data breach from leading to a chain reaction, it’s crucial to utilize a strong, distinct password for each online account.
Creating unique and robust passwords for every account is a task best left to a password manager’s random password generator. You have access to several excellent free password managers, which can be quickly implemented. While paid password managers offer additional features, a password manager eliminates the need to remember multiple passwords, as you only need to recall the master password that secures the password manager itself. Once unlocked, the password manager automatically logs you into your online accounts.
#2 Use a VPN
When connecting to an unfamiliar Wi-Fi network that is not owned by you, it is recommended to utilize a virtual private network (VPN). It is plausible that an individual on that network, without your knowledge, could begin browsing or stealing files and data transmitted from your laptop or mobile device. The owner of the hotspot may even be a malicious actor attempting to extract confidential information from all Wi-Fi connections.
By employing a VPN, your internet traffic is encrypted and routed through a server owned by the VPN provider. Consequently, no one, including the owner of the free Wi-Fi network, can intercept your data. In addition, using a VPN conceals your IP address. If you use a VPN without logs, then the owners of the VPN will not know what you are doing on the Internet. Even just setting an IP address is almost impossible if you are using VeePN or other high-end VPNs. VPN – comprehensively improves online security and data privacy, without breaking your budget.
#3 Do Anything with a Cool Head
Take a moment to shine the spotlight on cybersecurity, specifically recognizing and reporting phishing attempts. Phishing involves cunning criminals who employ social engineering techniques and technical expertise to pilfer sensitive information like corporate secrets, financial credentials, or personal data. The primary means of conducting phishing attacks are through email and SMS. In December 2021, the Anti-Phishing Working Group reported an unprecedented 316,000 phishing attacks.
To steer clear of falling victim to phishing, you can protect yourself by examining links before you click on them. By hovering your mouse over the linked text, you’ll be able to see the web address. If the address guides you to a website unrelated to the linked text or if you spot any misspellings, it’s crucial to refrain from clicking the link.
#4 Turn on MFA
Secure your accounts by using MFA on all of them, starting with your email accounts that typically contain a wealth of personal information. With data breaches occurring daily, obtaining your email account credentials could lead to severe consequences without an additional layer of protection. MFA enhances security by requiring at least two verification factors, such as something you know (password, PIN), something you are (facial recognition, fingerprints), or something you have (hardware security key), each time you log in.
#5 Don’t Store All Your Eggs in One Basket
Highly organized and security-conscious individuals tend to utilize separate email addresses for different purposes, thus maintaining distinct online identities. By doing so, they can easily identify phishing emails, such as those claiming to be from a bank, which arrive in an account solely reserved for social media.
One strategy to consider is having one dedicated email address specifically for signing up for apps with questionable security or those that may inundate you with promotional messages. Once you have evaluated a service or app, you can then register using one of your permanent email accounts. In case you start receiving spam in the dedicated account, you can simply close it and create a new one. Also Read – Why You Should Factor Insurance into Your Financial Plan
#6 Don’t Store Passwords in Your Browser
Your browser may know about you, but most browsers come with a built-in password management solution. We don’t recommend relying on them. It’s best to entrust password protection to the experts who develop password managers.
Consider this: when you install a third-party password manager, it often gives you the option to import passwords from your browser’s storage. If the password manager can do it, there’s a chance that malicious software can do the same. Additionally, by keeping your passwords in a single, centralized password manager, you can use them across all browsers and devices.
#7 Use a Prepaid Card
It’s advisable to opt for a prepaid card rather than a traditional one when making online purchases, especially if you have doubts about the website’s safety. Additionally, monitoring your bank accounts through mobile and email notifications is recommended, enabling swift detection of any suspicious transactions.
#8 Avoid Storing Cache
Your browser’s cache holds a wealth of information about you, from saved cookies and searches to web history. This data could potentially reveal personal details like your home address and family information.
To safeguard your sensitive information, make it a habit to regularly clear your browser’s cache. It’s easy to do so. In Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Opera, simply press Ctrl+Shift+Del to open a dialog box where you can select the specific browser data you want to clear. If you’re using a different browser, give that key combination a try – it might work. Otherwise, you can search through the browser’s menu.
It is in your interest to set a strong password, enable additional security measures during authorization, and use a VPN. The more of the listed tips you apply, the higher your chances will be to protect yourself from scammers or, at least, to go through this path with minimal losses. Even if your secondary email is compromised, it is unlikely to be as big a tragedy as if attackers penetrated your primary email. Prevention is better than cure, stick to this position.