The global pandemic, economic uncertainty, and political issues have been front of mind for most people over the last 12 months. However, whether we like it or not, the reality is also that hackers have been out in force more and more, and many individuals and businesses have been stung by cyberattacks.
Staying safe and doing what you can to stop yourself from becoming a victim is critical for many reasons.
One of these is to protect your identity. Identity theft is rampant, and hackers continue to find new and more sophisticated ways to steal people’s personal information. There are multiple things you can do to stop yourself from becoming one of the statistics, though.
Take Care with Passwords
You’ll make it much harder for cybercriminals to steal your sensitive data if you make sensible password choices. Password protect your devices, including your computer, tablet, smartphone, and modem, as well as online accounts and even smart-home gadgets.
Adequate codes are at least eight characters long and made up of a mixture of symbols, numbers, and upper-case and lower-case letters.
Don’t let other people know your passwords, and don’t base your codes on any information you’ve publicly shared, such as on social media accounts.
Also, try to use different codes across different settings so if one gets hacked, not everything will be vulnerable to attack. Update your codes at least a couple of times per year, too.
Set Up a Secure Network
Another critical step is ensuring you have a digitally secure network that hackers can’t break into easily. Utilize quality, comprehensive security software from a trusted brand that protects against a variety of threats.
For example, choose a product that helps stop viruses, spam, spyware, ransomware, and other malware. It should protect your privacy when you’re browsing and buying online and send you real-time alerts if there’s any system breach.
Use the firewall that’s likely installed on your computer already, too. Check the settings on your device to see if you need to switch the program on so it can do its job.
Firewalls are handy because they act as another line of defense against hackers, particularly those who try to break into networks via the internet.
Keep Software Updated at all Times
Many people ignore the update alerts that pop up on their tech gear throughout the year. However, if you’re in this group, you’re opening yourself up to more risk of a cybercriminal attack.
Developers release new versions of their software when they not only add more features or fix bugs but also plug security gaps that open up over time that hackers might exploit.
It’s vital to keep all software programs updated at all times. This includes operating systems, browsers, firewalls, security software, apps, games, plugins, etc.
To ensure you don’t forget to do this, set up your digital systems to update automatically whenever new versions of programs become available.
Learn About Common Hacker Scams
While hackers are unfortunately continually coming up with new ways of scamming people, there are still many tried-and-true techniques they use to gain illegal access to networks and steal data. Help yourself stay safer by wrapping your head around the most common strategies.
For example, phishing, where cybercriminals send out emails pretending to be from legitimate organizations, is a big problem these days.
If you get messages asking you to reply with sensitive details, click on a link to update your account, etc., proceed with caution. Most companies won’t ask customers to do this, but hackers will.
They use the information they get to steal your identity from the info you share, or they embed the links you click on with malware so they can break into your computer.
Be smart by never opening emails or attachments from people you don’t know or giving sensitive data online without typing in a legitimate company or government website address yourself.
Also Read: Best Free AntiVirus Apps for Android
Hackers often post “clickbait” headlines on social media sites to get people to click through onto virus-laden links and sites, too, so be wary of these.
Plus, cybercriminals are known to create fraudulent versions of real sites and trick people who think they’ve gone onto legitimate websites. Always check logos, text, and the web address to see if you’re dealing with an actual business or not.
These are just some of the ways you can protect yourself digitally. Also, use smart credit cards (the ones with chips embedded in them), and keep an eye on your bank account and credit card statements for any signs that someone has made purchases using your details without your knowledge. Check your credit report every so often, too. The more vigilant you are about your personal information, the better.