Online attacks from sophisticated hackers are unfortunately becoming an increasing risk. If your information gets into the wrong hands, they could steal your identity and ruin your credit by getting loans or opening bank accounts in your name. They could hack into your computer and demand a ransom to get your data back. No matter how it goes, a cyber attack is not something you want to happen. While some of these breaches are out of your hands if they come from a store you shop at, there are ways you can protect yourself.
If you don’t have a passcode on your phone, you’re making your data easily accessible to anyone who comes across your phone if it’s lost or stolen.
A four-digit PIN has 10,000 possible combinations, which is fairly secure, but a six-digit code has 1 million possible combinations. Other passcodes that use fingerprints or unique drawings are even more secure
If you’re using your phone to go on sensitive websites, like your email or online banking, only use secure Wi-Fi. Someone could hack into the public Wi-Fi and get access to whatever site you’re visiting.
Some criminals create apps that look and function like legitimate apps, but actually install malware to your smartphone. Be sure to download apps only from trusted sources, and check the number of downloads and read reviews to makes sure you aren’t downloading a “look-alike” app.
Online Account Safety
Two-step verification is an additional security process that requires you to authenticate yourself on another device, typically your phone, by sending a text or calling you with a code. It’s meant to prevent someone from logging into an account with just your email and password, and it’s very effective at keeping your accounts safe. Use it for every site that offers it, which is many major ones like Google and Dropbox.
Are you still using the same username and password for every account? You’re asking for trouble. You should be using a different password for every login you have so a hacker can’t take one login and be able to access all of your accounts. Never include your name or other easily identifiable information in your password. Use an app like 1Password to remember all the different passwords.
If you get an email from someone you don’t know, or just looks suspicious and is from someone you do know, don’t open it. If you’re not sure if you should open it, try searching information about the email plus “scam” and see if something comes up.
If you do know the person who sent it, contact that person and verify they sent it before opening the email or clicking on a link or attachment.
Use Secure Websites
Never give a website sensitive information unless you know it’s authentic. The little padlock in the top of your browser next to the URL is a good indication that it’s legit. If it’s an ecommerce site, look for a “safe shopping” badge on the site somewhere- typically in the checkout pages.
Regularly reading up on new data breaches can help you be more aware of what an attack might look like. It’s up to you to use your due diligence when something suspicious comes your way. Always double check and re-read the email or the URL to make sure there are no typos. And trust your gut – if it feels questionable, it probably is.