The information we upload on computers and the web is sensitive, such as credit card information, email addresses, and more personal data. You may have fallen prey to hacking as an unsuspecting victim, or you may have heard of some of the hacking stories and cases.
Both individuals and companies are prone to cyber-attacks if they are not proactive in cyber-security measures. There are basic practices you can quickly apply to safeguard this information. They include:
1. Regularly Update Your Passwords and Accounts
How many passwords do you have? How often do you update them? Recent research reveals that 59% of us use one password for most of the websites we visit. This is a rookie mistake.
When hackers access one of your passwords, they will try it on anything they can associate with you. Make sure you change the passwords multiple times throughout the year. Furthermore, make sure you learn how to create stronger passwords.
Always update your accounts and software. Updates prevent hackers from using software bugs to attack your computer malware. Software owners and creators make updates to cover up vulnerabilities brought by software bugs.
2. Use Different Email Addresses for Different Online Activities
Make sure you separate your work email from entertainment emails. This will create protective silos over work email addresses.
You are also advised to use alias names to create emails. Moreover, make sure the email is hard to guess. An easy to guess email is one like (yourname@yahoo/Gmail.com).
When you log in to your email account, make sure you always check the last login. For Gmail users, you are assured that it will display the last login location at the bottom of the screen. If you suspect that you are entering a spam website, you could register with a burn email.
3. Use Two-factor Authentication
Two-factor is one of the most pro-active methods to prevent hacks. It applies two security measures for your account. The first one is the password. There is also a second security layer, which could include an email or text message PIN. Most companies will offer two-factor verification for free.
The two-step verification protects your account even when your password has been compromised. A hacker will need your phone number or email address to break into your account. Apart from email accounts and social media accounts, insurance companies and Bank accounts also accept the two-step verification process.
4. Avoid Using the Correct Answer for Security Questions
Most websites will need you to add a security question to help you remember your password and to secure it more.
Hackers may have other personal information they may have acquired from sources like previous hacks or your social media accounts. They will use this information to guess your password.
Ensure you use a hint to the answer rather than the answer itself. If you are using a question like ‘when is my birthday?’, ensure you include another answer that relates to your birthday rather than your birth date itself.
5. Turn Off Gadgets When You’re Done Using Them
After you are done using a website, ensure you log off. When you are done using your computer, or you are going out, make sure you turn it off or log off from the internet connection like Wi-Fi.
Using foreign devices from untrustworthy sources is also risky. For example, you should be wary of using thumb drives you pick up on the street. Hackers often use them as bait. Also, downloads from untrustworthy websites could make you vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
The extra few seconds or minutes could go a long way to secure your accounts and devices. It is a little responsibility that could secure your personal information. Make sure you always trust and verify the links you are tempted to click. For example, the link telling you you are their ten millionth visitor, and you stand a chance to win cash.