The internet has changed our lives for the better but can damage if not checked. Hackers do not rest and are always plotting how to steal data from you. While you cannot keep yourself 100% safe from hackers, you can at least avoid making major mistakes that make you vulnerable to attacks.
1. Using the same Login Details for Years
You have probably heard this a million times before-do not use one password for different accounts, and regularly change your passwords. If remembering passwords is a problem, get a password manager that will generate unique and random passwords every time you need to log in.
Using one password for all your accounts is giving hackers your data on a silver platter, and should they crack your password, they will have access to all your sensitive data, including your money in the bank. Changing your passwords ensures that by the time hackers crack your password, you will have changed it, and they have to renew their efforts at cracking the password.
2. Not Using Phone Screen Lock
Most people use their smartphones for everything, from logging in to social media accounts to online banking. If your phone is stolen or falls into the wrong hands, that person would have access to your social media accounts, spam all your contacts and read your emails.
With this knowledge, most people still do not protect their phones using a PIN or biometric ID methods. With the advancement in technology, there are numerous fingerprints, iris, and face scanning technologies in the market, and a PIN is just as secure as long as you keep it private. It would be best if you avoided the pattern unlock technique at all costs, which is easy for someone to copy once he/she sees you using it. The easiest to use is the biometric unlock system, which is impossible to replicate.
3. Neglecting Multi-factor Authentication
We have already established that passwords can be hacked, and the multi-factor or two-step authentication adds an extra layer of protection to the password. The multi-factor authentication essentially makes it mandatory to have another trusted device that receives a unique code or SMS used alongside the PIN or password. Yet, most people neglect to utilize this option, leading to millions of hacked accounts every year.
Most online accounts, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and others, offer the multi-factor authentication option. If someone tries to log into your account, you get an alert on your trusted device, and you can quickly change your password, which has most likely been hacked. If you are the one logging in, key in the generated code to gain access.
4. Not Using Free Wi-Fi Without a Second Thought
Most of us love free Wi-Fi, and we are quick to log into an open network any time we spot one, mostly in coffee shops and airport lounges. Hackers often lurk in these free networks and ‘listen’ in on your communication. To protect privacy, install a VPN on all your devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates a passage or tunnel between your devices and the internet, which is secure. The VPN encrypts all communication from your device using the AES encryption standard, ensuring any transmission to and from your device cannot be intercepted.
A VPN offers you virtual locations and hides your IP address, meaning you can log in on a server across the globe, confusing the hacker on your real location.
5. Divulging too Many Details Online
Any information you divulge online can be used against you to steal your identity, crack your passwords, or provide answers for the security questions that protect your accounts. A Facebook post that shows where you live, and set as a security question could be your undoing.
Sharing photos is common, but you must think before you share. If you have to geo-tag, do it away from your office or home, keep personal details and real names to a bare minimum, and restrict your audience.
Audience restriction is imperative, and most people make the mistake of sharing posts, check-ins, etc. with everyone. If it is not necessary, do not put it online.
Using the internet seems like a straightforward process, and for the most part, it is. However, you have to remember that not everyone is your friend, and some are out to steal your data for their selfish gains. While using the internet, taking some precautions is imperative. Regularly change login details and passwords, secure your phone’s screen lock, activate two-step authentication, be wary of using free internet, and, last but not least, restrict what you share online.