People, not computers, create computer threats. In this time where people are always online, it is important to know how to protect yourself from internet hackers. So what is ‘Online Safety’? In simple terms, online safety refers to the act of staying safe online, also known as internet safety, e-safety and cyber safety. It encompasses all technological devices which have access to the internet from PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets.
Being safe online means individuals are protecting themselves and others from online harms and risks which may jeopardize their personal information, lead to unsafe communications or even effect their mental health and wellbeing.
Of course, there are dangers whenever someone hacks your account. Here are some common occurrences:
- Hijack your usernames and passwords
- Steal your money and open credit card and bank accounts in your name
- Ruin your credit
- Request new account Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) or additional credit cards
- Make purchases
- Add themselves or an alias that they control as an authorized user so it’s easier to use your credit
- Obtain cash advances
- Sell your information to other parties who will use it for illicit or illegal purposes
After knowing all the dangers of online hacking, how can you protect yourself online? We have gathered some tips for you.
Don’t open mail from strangers
It’s safer to retype the Web address than to click on it from within the body of the email. Don’t open attachments from strangers. If you do not know the sender or are not expecting the attachment, delete it
Make sure your devices are up to date
It’s important to keep your computer software up to date to minimize the risk of a malware infection or security breach. Software updates often include security patches, bug fixes and new features
Use strong passwords and change them frequently.
The best password is one that you can remember, but one that will be hard for other people, even malicious programs that try every password combination under the sun, to guess. An abbreviated sentence, or passphrase, is often better than a single word with numbers and symbols inserted. Or you can use a password management app to generate and store your passwords for you. A password manager can also help you generate unique passwords for each of your online accounts. For extra security, change your passwords several times per year.
Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication enables people to put an extra layer of security over their passwords for websites, social media platforms, services, and apps – usually verifying users via SMS or a pop-up notification, or an authenticator code, in case of third-party authenticator app.
Don’t click on strange-looking links.
Viruses and other forms of malware often spread because you click on a link from someone you know. If you receive a link that looks strange (for instance, it may have typos in it) from a trusted friend or family member, contact them to ask if the link you’ve received was sent on purpose. You might have to wait a bit to watch that funny viral video, but better safe than sorry. Remember: Don’t click on the link.
Avoid using unsecured public Wi-Fi
If you regularly access online accounts through Wi-Fi hotspots, use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs encrypt traffic between your computer and the internet, even on unsecured networks. You can get a personal VPN account from a VPN service provider.
Back up your data regularly
The main reason for data backup is to save important files if a system crash or hard drive failure occurs. There should be additional data backups if the original backups result in data corruption or hard drive failure. This option is best done via the cloud or offsite storage.
Be smart with financial information
Be mindful of where you enter information like your credit card number online. Don’t purchase anything from a website that doesn’t have this. Also, you should think twice about saving your financial information to websites you buy from, even if you shop with them frequently. Storing your information on their site could make it easier for hackers to access in the event that company’s website or network suffers a data breach.
Avoid sharing personal information
To keep it safe, never share identifying details, like your full name, address, or financial information with strangers you meet online. You should also be careful about the usernames you create for websites — there’s no need for them to include your real name. And be sparing with the amount of information you share in online surveys or forms. Most of the time, little to no personal information is genuinely needed to complete them.
Make sure that your share this knowledge with your friends and family to ensure they are staying safe online.