Seven steps to PROTECT you and YOUR MONEY from being hacked
If you’ve ever had your identity stolen online or have been the victim of fraud, you know how stressful and financially destructive it can be.
But even though the consequences can be dire, both personally and financially, ensuring you’re protected from online scammers is still something that is often set aside to “do another day.”
Unfortunately, cyberattacks are now commonplace and Twitter recently warned its 330 million users to change their password after a bug was discovered in their IT system, which was storing passwords and usernames in plain text.
Meanwhile, last month, the headlines were filled with potential threats from Russia’s state-sponsored hacking attacks and led to a joint warning from the UK’s National Cyber Security Center, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. USA
Fortunately, large-scale cyberattacks are quite rare, yet we regularly hear from people who have been the victims of online fraud.
We asked various cybersecurity experts for their best tips to avoid becoming a victim and here we have made a list of the best ones by laying out the latest tricks so you can give criminals a hard time:
(1) Be careful about the information you share on social media
Social media can be a treasure trove for scammers, especially when it comes to finding personal data and potentially scamming people out of cash.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that personal information, such as your date of birth, phone number, or address, is not shared here.
Similarly, if you leave regular updates on your social media accounts when you go on vacation, this can be a tool for criminals and will inform them when your house will be empty.
Lisa Baergen, director of online technology firm NuData Security, said: ‘By looking at your photos or videos, hackers can find out where you live and work.
They can find your spouse’s name and who you socialize with, even your pet’s name that you can use in answer to louder security questions, including your mother’s maiden name, a favorite data point used by creditors and law enforcement agencies. financial institutions to verify your identity. ‘
To protect yourself on your social media feeds, review your security settings to see who can access the details you share. Make sure your security settings are on the highest possible setting and use less obvious answers for security questions, such as your pet’s name, which can easily be obtained from your profile.
(2) A password manager will encrypt and store all your passwords
You have probably been told a thousand times to change your password regularly and to have a different one for each account you use. However, remembering eight or nine different passwords (if not more) and changing them regularly can be a real hassle and time consuming.
Instead, a password manager can do this for you. They are free to use and generate strong passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. These are then stored in an encrypted account and when you log into the password manager, your username and password will be filled in automatically when prompted.
Adam Brown, spokesman for online technology firm Synopsys, explains: ‘Users have hundreds of accounts online these days and if one of them is breached and the password data is leaked along with a linkable identifier like a name username or email address, then that user’s password is often no longer confidential due to the common but bad practice of reusing passwords.
Everything related to the user should be avoided, along with the words and variations of the dictionary. Targeted attacks use recognition to obtain information about the victim; Social media or even public records can reveal names and dates of friends and relatives, etc.
Ideally, use a single string with numbers, mixed uppercase and lowercase letters, and special characters; and sentences can help increase the complexity of a password while keeping it memorable.
‘A reputable password manager gives users the opportunity to use passwords that cannot be guessed (which also tend to be memorable) with their online accounts. It may seem like putting all your eggs in one basket, but they have very strong security controls and in fact a good password manager never stores your password, just a super encrypted version that only you with the key (the password manager app passwords and password) can access. ‘
(3) Install updated antivirus software
When you connect your computer, mobile phone, or tablet to the internet, you are potentially opening it up to a virus that could steal private information.
To prevent this from happening, install an antivirus program and be sure to update it regularly. This includes completing full virus scans regularly and downloading vendor-shipped updates.
There are several free antivirus programs available, such as Windows Defender (free for those with newer versions of Windows), Avast Antivirus, and Avira.
(4) Patch your operating system
‘Patching’ your operating system simply means completing regular updates from whatever system you are using.
Big companies like Apple and Microsoft send them out to make sure their systems users can fully update their computers with the latest software to attack and remove viruses.
This is especially important when it comes to cyber security, as these patches will often include details to protect your computer from recent viruses online.
(5) Use a VPN connection when searching for private information online
A free Wi-Fi network can be a blessing if you’ve run out of data or just don’t want to burn your data while using the internet.
However, hackers can also use it as a way to steal personal and financial information from people using the network.
Open Wi-Fi networks are not as secure as private ones, so try to avoid using online banking or entering your payment or personal details when using one.
Whether it’s you, a VPN, or a virtual private network, the connection can give you an extra layer of protection.
These allow you to remotely connect to a private network and encrypt your internet connection and any data you send, so that no one can access this, including the internet service provider or a potential hacker.
There are several VPNs available for free online and various apps that you can download.
(6) Check your credit score regularly for suspicious payments or apps.
Often times, your credit score can be the first place you find out you’ve been hacked, because any credit request will appear here. Therefore, it is important to check it regularly and contact the credit reference agency if you notice anything strange.
James Jones, a spokesperson for Experian, comments: ‘If you are unlucky enough to be attacked by a scammer, the sooner you find out and raise the alarm, the less time and effort it will take to clear things up.
The three major credit reference agencies (Experian, Callcredit, and Equifax) offer free support to fraud victims to limit any distress and inconvenience, including liaising with the involved lenders on their behalf. We also offer payment web monitoring tools that can track the web and alert you if your personal information is found somewhere new online. ‘
(7) Never open links from people you don’t know
If someone you don’t know contacts you, be it in an email, a phone call, a text message, via social media or even a WhatsApp message, always check who the person or company is before clicking in any link within the message or delivery of your data.
If there are links or attachments within the message, do not open them until you are sure you know the sender is genuine.
If you know the sender, check with them to make sure they intended to share the link and that it is not a virus.
Ryan Wilk, vice president of online security firm NuData Security, says: ‘Most scammers will first try to reach you with an email pretending to be from your bank or financial institution, or perhaps from a trusted trademark. Be very careful about the emails you receive from these sources; it is highly unlikely that a bank will contact you by email.
‘Unfortunately, emails from brands are a standard routine (sometimes too often) and they have become extremely realistic and sophisticated. If an unsolicited incoming email asks for your personal and / or financial information, please investigate and / or pick up the phone and call the sending organization directly. ‘