Everyone who uses the internet, has at least one online account and protecting these from hackers can be a daunting task. Hackers are interested in stealing your credit card numbers, tax records and passwords, but don’t worry – these few tips let you know the best way to protect your online accounts.
USE SECURE PASSWORDS
Using the same or simple passwords may be easy to remember, but is very insecure, leaving you at risk. Try to use a complex password which incorporates a series of capital letters, numbers and special characters. It’s also good to use at least 8 characters, but preferably more.
These types of passwords may be hard to remember, but a number of tools are available which can securely store these passwords and other information and make it available across your devices, such as your computer, phone and tablet.
For the OS X and iOS platform Apple has their own iCloud Keychain which stores credit card numbers and passwords for use on your iMac or iPhone and then autofills it when needed in Safari.
Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and other browsers also have a built in password manager which stores and autofills your passwords.
Another good system is 1Password or LastPass. 1Password can store more than just passwords, you can store WiFi credentials, notes, gym keys and any other information you need, while also syncing between your devices and even the Apple Watch!
KEEP YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNT SECURE
If you think about it, your email account is one of the most important accounts you have. It’s not only a handy way to keep in touch with family or colleagues but it is effectively the hub of all of your other internet accounts. You sign up for Facebook for example, then you forget your password the reset link then goes to your inbox if someone had access to that they then potentially have access to all of your accounts.
Gmail and other email services do have the option for Two-step verification, which effectively puts another barrier up to prevent someone accessing your account if they know your password.
It’s also worth considering that not everyone has good protection on their PC, so think about what information is being sent via email – never send your credit-card information – or any other kind of sensitive information for that matter!
USE TWO STEP VERIFICATION
Two-factor authentication is available on any services that offer it – iCloud, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Outlook and lots of other services do support it. Essentially if someone guesses or sniffs out your password on public networks, two-step verification offers that extra layer protection.
It is easier than you think for someone to steal your password. If you use the same password for more than one site 2-step versification can help keep your account secure. When you sign in, you’ll still use your password but then something else will be needed such as a code sent via text, voice call or a mobile app. But once signed in, you can choose to not use two-step verification onto computer again, but anyone else will need to.
The codes are only valid for a short period once allocated, only work with your account and can only be used once.
Learn more about two-step verification here – https://www.google.com/landing/2step/
So shopping online is all well and good, we can order essentially anything from the comfort of our chair, but make sure that the site you are using is using a safe technology. Simply check when you are at the checkout screen that the web address shows ‘https’ – this means that the site is using a secure technology. Also don’t use unsecured networks to make purchases.
To ensure that you’re shopping smart, you also need to make sure that the seller is legitimate. Research the company if you haven’t shopped with them before and look for things like phone numbers and addresses – otherwise you could be left in the dark if there is a problem with the purchase down the line.
Internet games may be fun but make sure that you are safe when playing games especially when communicating with other users – and make sure that your Firewall and Anti-virus still functions when gaming.
Online games also use a lot of bandwidth, so if you have a data limit, this can be a big source of data consumption.
Scammers use emails which look like legitimate messages to lure unsuspecting users into giving over private information or login info.
If you receive an email from a company that wants you to visit a website, just make sure that the site is real and trustworthy by visiting the site in a separate web browser – avoid clicking any links that they put in the email.
BE AWARE OF PUBLIC NETWORKS
Public WiFi networks such as those in a café can be useful when needing to work, but hackers can set up their laptops to broadcast networks such as “Free Internet Access” the internet traffic will go through their hardware but they will harvest the data such as key strokes and passwords.
Best practices for using Free WiFi: Don’t do online banking or access sensitive date while using public networks.
If you do need to use public networks – make sure that your browser and operating system are updated to the latest version, but this should be done at home anyway – not just on public networks. It will also help to use two-step authentication on any services that offer it.
USE ANTI-VIRUS AND SECURITY SOFTWARE
The latest versions of Windows and OS X have included Firewall software, while this is better than nothing – using anti-virus software can help protect your home or business network from cyberspace threats, adware and identify theft.
LOCK YOUR SCREEN OR DEVICE
Even whist offline, you computer could be vulnerable to physical compromisation – leaving your phone or computer unlocked or open is the same as going out for the day and leaving the front door open. So if you leave the desk for a few moments, lock your PC or phone.
A lot of devices can now automatically lock after a minute or more; not only is this secure but also saves battery life.