Spying, stalking, hacking DDoS, swatting—the list of online dangers is constantly growing. How can you protect yourself? Ideally, the best way to avoid online dangers is to avoid the Internet altogether. But in this age of social media and working from home, quitting the Internet isn’t an option.
Still, to be clear you can work online full-time and still protect yourself from cyberattacks. This article features a list of possible ways to protect yourself. Intrigued? Let’s dive right in.
#1: Double Check Everything
One of the most effective tricks hackers use to breach your data is by posing as someone else. They could disguise as your high school friend asking for urgent help. Or they could pretend to be a company you like and send you an email asking for your personal details.
In light of that information, avoid opening emails from strangers. And if you do, don’t open links or files they might have sent you. This also applies to social media requests. Most strangers who send you suspicious links and files are scammers.
When it comes to websites, double check every detail to ensure you’re on the right website. Look for the brand name. Is it spelled correctly? Is the website SSL encrypted? If something looks odd, maybe the logo, the lack of encryption or the use of poor spelling, consider leaving the site instantly.
If you’re not sure about a site’s legitimacy, check review websites. Visit relevant review sites, for example scams.info to find safe New Jersey online casinos. Then, you learn about all the safest casinos in the Garden State, their official websites and what they provide.
#2: Use Password Protection
Password protection is online safety 101. It’s the first thing everyone asks you to do when using the Internet. That said, passwords aren’t created equal. Using your name, date of birth or “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” doesn’t cut it anymore. Hackers have numerous ways of breaking passwords.
To stay safe online, use strong, unique passwords on every website that asks you for password protection. Most people have a set of three to five passwords they use for all their accounts. That’s alright. But if you want to stay entirely safe, use different passwords across your accounts.
Don’t worry about forgetting your passwords: you can always sign up for a password manager. If you’re not ready to install a password manager, activate 2-factor authentication. Two-FA involves the use of a code sent to your email address, phone number of authentication app to provide account access.
Two-FA works excellently with password protection. If you lose your password, your account stays safe thanks to 2-FA. If you lose your phone, your password helps protect your account.
#3: Use VPNs
VPNs stand for Virtual Private Networks. These tools hide your computer’s IP address to protect you from spies, stalkers and hackers. They also encrypt your personal information to prevent data breaches. Surprisingly, only about 20% of the US population and 44% of the UK population know how a VPN works.
The reason is that most people don’t do enough protect themselves online. This is even when they handle sensitive data that could endanger their personal lives or their businesses. In all fairness, the best Virtual Private Networks have paywalls.
The charge you a monthly fee in exchange for protecting your identity and data. Some of them can also help you bypass geo-restrictions. And in doing so, they can let you access social media in China or watch Netflix and Hulu movies while outside of the US.
If you stream movies and video games regularly, using a VPN can protect you from data throttling. Data throttling is a common experience for many gamers. A VPN can hide your identity to prevent your ISP provider from detecting how you use your bandwidth.
#4: Share Personal Data Only When It’s Necessary
When social media started, it was common for people to share everything about them on social media. It was a way of making it easier for their friends and family members to find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
Unfortunately, sharing personal information online soon became a disadvantage. For starters, stalkers could find your home address and phone number and use it against you. On the flip side, hackers could guess your passwords based on your likes and dislikes online.
Hackers aside, sharing your personal information can also be problematic if you publish content deemed objectionable by your employer, school or government. Countless people have lost their jobs and college slots for posting hateful content online. Others have lost their freedom or worse, had their lives taken away unnecessarily.
#5: Don’t Trust Strangers
Earlier one, we said strangers can be your undoing online. That’s true and a great a reason you shouldn’t trust people you don’t really know. Unfortunately, most people find it hard to turn down strangers with attractive profiles, especially when showing an interest in them.
Officially it’s called catfishing and involves the use of fake profiles to deceive unsuspecting people. Cat fishers are often sweet talkers and do intensive research to know a lot of details about you. With time, you learn to trust them.
Some people go to the point of starting online relationships with these strangers. The end result, unfortunately, tends to be the same. Victims get scammed an average of $15,000 according to studies.
#6: Update Software Timely
We’ll admit—most of us are quick to turn down any requests to update desktop and smartphone updates. We like to think updating software is unimportant and that our devices can run smoothly even with out-of-date software.
Unfortunately, outdated software is a common loop hole for hackers. If your mobile devices or computers aren’t using the latest operating software, hackers can easily infiltrate you with malware. This also applies to third-party apps like banking apps, mobile games and social media.
To ensure you use updated software, some companies update their apps automatically in the background. Others force you to make updates. All the same, using current software is essential for protecting yourself online.