16 Tips on How to Stay Safe Online
Online safety and credit card protection are taking center stage as cyber crimes and identity theft continue to impact internet users worldwide. Now is the time to take precautionary measures, learn how to stay safe online, how to protect your identity and monitor your account for irregular activities. While it may seem like the list is never ending, taking action is actually pretty simple and will make all the difference in keeping your private information your own.
Here are 16 important tips you should follow if you want to really know how to stay safe online:
Create powerful passwords– pretty straightforward right? You’d be surprised how many people still use generic, easy to crack passwords like “password1”. Instead, think of a 12 character sentence that will help you remember your passwords. Use upper and lower case letters within the sentence, as well as numbers punctuation marks, and special characters. Note that some websites allow you to use spaces and use this website to help you create strong passwords.
Use two-step authentication– whenever you can, use a two-step verification to add another layer of security. Sites like Google will text you a code once you’ve entered your password, or if you have a Security Key, you can insert it into your computer’s USB port.This way, even if someone gets a hold of your password they still won’t be able to access your account without your mobile or Security Key.
Stay informed – it’s always a good idea to know if there are specific issues to look for–read blogs and articles to help you stay informed, follow security trends and updates,and share it with your friends to help them keep safe too.
Keep security software up to date– with the latest security software and operating systems on all of your devices, you stand a better chance against viruses, malware and other threats. Turn on automated updates to ensure you’re on track with the newest version of software.
Change your passwords– your office email requires a password change for a reason. In the event your password is compromised, changing it across all of your accounts will eliminate the chance of it being accessed. Set up a 90 day reminder on your calendar to guarantee you change all your passwords regularly.
Think first, click later– don’t click on attachments or links in emails from people you don’t or barely know. Use caution even when receiving an email from a close friend and look for anything that may be suspicious. Hackers use phishing schemes to lead users to fake websites that will lure them into giving personal information. If you receive an email from your bank, PayPal and other services asking you to click a link because there’s a problem with your account or your password, don’t! Forward the email to the company to verify that they’ve sent it.
Shop safely– look for websites with https and the padlock icon next to their URL or a gold lock at the bottom of the page.Use a credit card instead of a debit card for the transactions as most banks monitor credit cards for unusual activity and you’ll be more likely to get notified and reimbursed in case your information was stolen. With that said, keep in mind that even though websites have secure connections, not all are safe websites themselves. Do your research off site before you volunteer your credit card digits and use credit monitoring services.
Use different passwords– if a hacker has one of your account password and you use the same one for all personal accounts, you’re at a greater risk of getting locked out of all of your accounts, making it harder to contain the breach and regain access. Make it more difficult to access your information with a unique password for each social media site, email account, and other online services you use.
Back up and monitor your personal info– routinely save your personal information from all devices to protect yourself in case of theft, virus, or damage. Use credit monitoring services and check your bank statements often to recognize and report any suspicious activity.
If you get hacked, change your password right away– if you do get hacked, the best thing to do is change your password immediately. Let your contacts know you’ve been hacked so they know to delete any spam emails they may have received from your email.
Protect your Wi-fi network- change your router’s default name and settings and create a strong connection password. If you don’t change the initial password, you’ll open the doors for hackers to use your WiFi network to gain control over your email and other personal accounts. Choose WPA2 or WPA over WEP and disable guest login if your router has that option.
Only use secure locations to access your accounts– as tempting as it may be to quickly skim through your bank statement on your phone using a free WiFi network at a coffee shop, it could be just the same as giving away your details to hackers if the network has been compromised. That short period of time is more than enough to make your information vulnerable and easy to to obtain. Consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to encrypt connection to the network.
Install a firewall, antivirus and antispyware program– most operating systems come with a firewall, but you can choose a third-party like McAfee or Norton. This will protect you from having unauthorized people hack on to your computer, while antivirus will defend against viruses that can harm the computer; Anti-spyware will actively look for programs that spy on your computer in an effort to learn your passwords.
Be careful with the information you share online– social media makes it easy for sensitive information to fall into the wrong hands–users often share the information voluntarily on social networks. This can be anything from their maiden name, hometown, their birthday, to parents’ names, home address and even cellphones. If your Facebook has been hacked, all this information is at risk. Remember that secure sites like banks ask for verification questions when you log in to your account– your mother’s name, your child’s birthday, the third letter in your hometown and more so make sure you choose questions only you know the answer to, and limit the personal information you share.
Use more than one email account– you’ll be able to separate and control different areas of your life-use your main email for your bank, insurance, job opportunities, another for your social media accounts, and one to be used when you sign up for deals online or in stores.
Keep your passwords safe– with all the different sites you’re using, it’s easy to compile a long list of passwords so you don’t end up locking yourself out of your accounts. Keep that list away from your computer or use services like password managers for secure password storage.
Now that you know how to stay safe online you’ll be able to keep your information private and secure. Remember to stay alert, recognize weak spots, take action as necessary and don’t wait until you get hacked to put these tips to use.