Cybercrimes are on the rise. There are over 1 million cyber attacks initiated each day. To protect yourself, your family, and your business, there are certain precautions you can take that will most likely keep hackers away from your personal data.
Here are some of my personal tips, not in any particular order.
Tip 1. Don’t open a file from an unknown sender
Emails are one of the common ways hackers get access to your data. You’ll get an email from someone asking you to open an attachment. The attachment can be a script that puts code on your machine, starts collecting data, and sends it to the hacker. Some scripts may also delete your files and more.Also, if you notice a hyperlink in an email, before clicking on it, try to hover over and see the URL is legit. If it looks fishy, do not click.
Do not open an attachment unless you know the person. Also check the file type before opening it. Sometimes the file extension can be tricky, make sure you’ve your anti-virus settings to check for email attachments.
Tip 2. Don’t use same password everywhere
Most people use the same password for multiple accounts. Do not use the same password for more than one account. Create separate passwords. I understand it is very difficult to remember passwords. If any app or website provides secure logins such as face recognition in apps, enable it.Did you know the 10 most popular passwords are the following? 123456123456789qwertypassword11111112345678abc1231234567password112345 Just don’t use them. Also don’t use Password1 or Password123 or password123.
Create difficult passwords for different account
- In a research project, a cyber security firm found that the most-used password was Password123.
- Make sure to change the default password provided by a company.
- Make sure to change passwords every few months, if not earlier.
Tip 3. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
Most of the websites and apps that store sensitive and financial data now provide a 2-factor or multi-factor authentication. To login to a website or an app, you will have to enable it. That means, in addition to an email and password, you will also get an email or text message to confirm before you can login. I understand this is one extra step but enable it. Text message verification is not that difficult.For my bank and financial accounts, I’ve set a 2FA. That means, everytime I login to my account, I must confirm a PIN text to my mobile.
Tip 4. Try not login to your accounts on public networks
Public networks such as an airport, are usually not secure. Unless its necessary, do not login to your important accounts on public networks. Tourists places and private home rentals are also an easy target for hackers. Some hackers setup tracking on home routers. Try not to access your bank accounts, personal information on untrusted networks.
Tip 5. Don’t keep a copy of plain text login
Do not store your login details in a plain text. If you must store your login credentials, keep the file in a safe location and password protect it. Microsoft Word or Excel allows you to password protect a file. Additionally, you can also add some codes to your password that only you know. For example, in a password, you could insert your date of birth or your house number.
If your password is “xatpatro” and your house number is 404, you can save password as “xatpatro404” or “xat4pa0tro4”.
Tip 6. Social Media
Hackers monitor your social media to learn about your traveling and other statuses. Don’t put your updates on social media such as travel plans or location. Disable auto updates from apps that use your location or maps.
Tip 7. Don’t give your personal info on phone or email
No company or business calls you and ask you for your social security number. If someone pretends to be from a company that you’re not expecting a call from, make sure the person is from that company. If not required, do not give your personal information over the phone or email.Sometimes, spammers will call you and introduce as they are calling from a bank. They may already have your personal details such as your credit card and address. You must clarify if they are actually calling from the bank. OR ask them to provide you a number where you can confirm its bank’s number and you can call them.
Tip 8. Don’t visit fishy websites
Just don’t go to fishy websites. Do not click on those ads that look suspicious. If you’re not sure about an ad or a website, first search that name in the browser to find the original website. Most of the fishing plug-ins are installed from junk websites.If you must use suspicious and fishy websites, try to open them on a separate machine in a high level security setting on your Web browser. Any website that opens links and links, you do not want to visit them.
Tip 9. Change credit cards
Every year try to change your credit cards. This is also good for you to know, what monthly charges being charged that you’re not aware of. Also, try to monitor your monthly credit card bill and look for any transactions that you’re not aware of.If you can, use one credit card for most of the online transactions and keep a close eye on that. Do not use your Debit Card for online purchases. That way, you’re not risking your entire bank account. Bank transfer by giving your bank account details is a no no. Think of this way. Anything you enter online is going to be stored somewhere on some server. You don’t know if your financial and personal data is encrypted or not, if its secure or not, and anyone can have access to this. I know its hard to get away with it, but if you can, don’t give anyone access to anything but one single credit card.
Tip 10. Enable Auto Updates
Last but the most important tip: Update your machine with the latest patches and security updates. Operating systems such as Windows have regular security patches and updates. Make sure you’re up to date with the updates. You can enable Auto Updates so your operating system will automatically install and update security patches.
Do not use old browsers. New browser are getting better at monitoring and stopping fishing attacks. Get yourself the latest browser.
Anti-virus is another important need. Make sure you have an anti-virus installed with the latest patches and updates.
Tip 11. Don’t Use Public WiFi to Access Your Sensitive and Financial Information
I know WE LOVE connecting to our stocks, bank accounts, and even health records from public Hotel Lobby WiFis. That’s a big NO NO. Control yourself until you have a secure connection. Even your Hotel Room is more secure than a Hotel Lobby WiFi. Remember, your money, stocks, and other data will still be there. It’s not going anywhere.
Tip 12. Logout
I know we get lazy and save our passwords in browsers and apps. When you done accessing your sensitive data such as bank account and financial data, LOGOUT of your browser. Remember, most of the hackers are after your money.If you connect to your other machines and servers using remote connections, make sure you logout when you’re done with the work.
Tip 13. Change Passwords Every Year
If you’ve not changed your passwords in a while, change them now. I highly recommend changing your passwords every year, if not every 6 month. I personally change my passwords every 6 months for most common apps and websites I use.
Tip 14. Keep Separate devices
If you have multiple devices, try to separate devices depending on your activities. I highly recommend using one device just when you access sensitive data such as your bank accounts, financial data, investments, stocks etc. On this device, you should never access emails, go to phishy websites, watch online movies, or other stuff. If you have a work machine, just use that for work purpose only. If your company has provided you a work machine, don’t do anything personal on it including news, social media, or even movies. You can have one device for entertainment purpose.
Tip 15. Enable Guest WiFi at Home
Most internet service providers offer a Guest WiFi feature. Enable a Guest WiFi and any guest needs your WiFi access, give them the Guest WiFi. Keep your Guest WiFi password separate from your personal WiFi password.
In this article, I shared some of the tips I use to keep myself safe from hackers. Hope you enjoy and apply these tips. If you have any tips, please feel free to share them.
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