by Monica Mizzi
If it seems that you hear about an endless stream of incidences of someone’s privacy, identity, or accounts being compromised online, there’s a good reason. Cases of online theft are on the rise, as unscrupulous hackers are taking advantage of the fact that most people aren’t doing enough to protect themselves online. The reality is that unfortunately, this isn’t a problem that’s going to go away any time soon. However, the good news is that there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself online. Here are the top simple but effective tips you should put into action today.
Double-Check a Link Before Opening It
One of the best methods of protecting yourself online is to carefully check any links before clicking and opening them. Whenever you come across a link—whether in an email you receive, on a website, or elsewhere—taking this precautionary measure could save you significant strife.
The reason it’s so important to check before you click is because opening the “wrong” type of link is one of the easiest ways your data or identity can be compromised. It is a common phishing technique, which is a type of hack where hackers disguise themselves as an authoritative source in an attempt to steal your information.
So how exactly do you check that a link is safe to open? A simple but effective way to identify whether a link is trustworthy is to hover over it. By hovering over a link and looking in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen, you can identify where each link is really pointing to and dismiss any that are suspicious.
For example, the linked text from your dental clinic may say “visit our website to book your next appointment,” but upon hovering and checking the link path, it may go to a completely different website.
Create Stronger Passwords
Many (if not most) of us are guilty of using the same passwords for numerous websites. More worrying still is that we tend to pick simple passwords that can easily be cracked by even the most amateur of hackers. We may think that we would never fall prey to a hacker, but in actual fact it is quite a common occurrence.
According to a Clark School study at the University of Maryland, hacker attacks of computers occur every 39 seconds on average, with non-secure usernames and passwords noted as increasing attackers’ chances of success.
Hackers rely on numerous password-hacking techniques to try to get into and take over our accounts. The best way to thwart their efforts is to regularly update your passwords and to create strong ones in the first place. Fortunately, as Sidd Gavirneni, CEO and Co-Founder of Zeguro explains, creating a strong password is straightforward so long as you follow a few tips. “Our cybersecurity awareness training guide highlights best practices for creating secure passwords,” Gavirneni explains. “For example, it’s vital that you ensure your passwords are at least 15 characters and feature a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.
If you’re having trouble remembering your passwords, it’s a good idea to try using mnemonic tricks. Or, you could simply store your passwords in a password manager, which basically acts as a secure vault of all of your passwords.
Use Your Discretion
The internet is like the Wild West when it comes to tempting offers. At every turn, you’re presented with different opportunities to sign up to this or to receive that. Most of us are guilty of not giving a second thought to providing our personal information in exchange for an enticing offer. However, you’re putting yourself at risk by not properly vetting each one.
Seemingly innocuous offers may in reality be a manipulative strategy to mine your data… or worse. For instance, online quizzes have become an easy way for unscrupulous companies to mine your data to sell off to third parties or use for their own purposes. You know the ones—after answering some fun questions they’ll tell you what your dream job is or who your perfect celebrity match is.
A good rule of thumb is to remember the advice: “if you’re not paying anything, you’re the product.” This may seem quite cynical, but with millions of dollars at stake, data mining is only going to become more prevalent. To ensure you know what you’re getting yourself in for, be sure to read any terms and conditions, as well as the permissions you’ll hand over before signing up to anything.
By Monica Mizzi from: watchdogreviews.com