How To Hack-Proof Your Life: 10 Ways To Stay Safe On The Internet
Even if you don’t think you’re a target for identity theft online, it’s still easy to fall victim to various scams especially if you’re not aware which ones they are. The truth is, even if you live millions of miles away from your potential hacker, he or she can still get to you within mere seconds. The hacker doesn’t even need to know who you are. The moment you make a small slip-up, these online vultures will sweep whatever information is wide open and use this to break into your bank accounts, control your webcam, and access your personal files.
Unfortunately, even as security experts devise sophisticated ways to deal with online threats, criminals are also developing tech that’s equally fancy. This constant race to hack and protect Internet users is the reason why individuals should arm themselves with the right information and tools to help themselves and reinforce shielding efforts. The point is, if individuals are extra vigilant about their own protection, hackers will have a hard time breaking and entering.
Here are 10 ways to hack-proof your online activity.
- Use complicated passwords.
This will never get old and you’ve probably heard this being said repeatedly before. However, choosing the right password is one of the most powerful lines of defense you can set up against hackers. Also, using just one password for all your accounts is similar to giving your attacker the key to all your wealth online. The hacker can use whatever data he or she got from one successful hack and use that to access your other accounts.
Don’t make it easy and always use a unique password for each one. Security experts recommend using not just a word but a phrase to unlock your accounts. For example, instead of just using Cats888 for your password, why not use “ILoveCatsLikeMyLife” or “MyCatWasBornOnDec25.” Both are easy for you to remember but difficult for hackers to guess.
- Delete accounts you no longer use.
Old accounts contain more sensitive information about you than you realize. This is because these were created at the time when Internet security wasn’t really a huge threat. Back then, people were just starting to appreciate the power of the online world. It was easy to exchange information because we didn’t really think it was unsafe. Of course, things are different now — and the smart thing to do is to delete all those past “mistakes” before hackers find them.
- Encrypt all of your messages and sent files.
“Encryption” is no longer a word that’s exclusive to spies, like in Hollywood movies. End-to-end encryption is necessary for regular folks like us. What it does is scramble messages so only the person they were intended for is the only one who can read it. There are plenty of software and apps that automatically encrypt your files for you, so that in case your flash drive or file lands in the wrong hands, you know your information is safe.
- Use a two-factor ID system.
This happens when there is at least two steps required to verify your identity, so even if the hacker gets hold of your password, it’s harder to access your files because there’s another “door” that needs to be unlocked. For example, when you log into your account online, the system also sends a code to your registered mobile phone to complete the verification process. Most online accounts now have this feature, so check if yours has been updated to use it.
- Be careful about the things you click.
Don’t open the door danger by clicking carelessly. Majority of today’s online threats are brought about by social engineering or phishing scams. This is when you are tricked into revealing sensitive information, like your bank account number, house address, social security number, and the like. Others come in the form of “free” offers, online quizzes, prizes, and phony controversial sites. As a rule, if you get an email asking you to update your information, call the company and verify if such an email has been sent before typing anything in.
- Use a firewall.
This should be activated, even if you already have a network security system in place. A firewall is a barrier that disables unauthorized access to your devices. If you do trust the source, you can selectively unblock your firewall for that particular site only.
- Be smart about surfing and shopping.
Look for sites that have “https” on their URLs instead of just “http.” The former comes with a padlock icon on the address, as well. This is a sign that it is secure and makes use of encryption software to scramble your data so others can’t read it. Also be careful about missing letters or transposed letters on website addresses. They are likely mirror sites posing as legitimate ones and just out to get your financial information.
- Protect your mobile life.
Whatever security practices you apply to your computer should be the same on your mobile gadgets. Be careful about messages that ask you to download certain apps and send you links. Even if the message is from a friend telling you to click a link, ask about it first before clicking. If it’s a malicious link, chances are your friend has been compromised and the worm is trying to get into your system next.
- Power up your network security.
Make sure that you have secure connections. You might be tempted to use public Wi-Fi when you’re out but be aware that these channels are often unsecured, making it easy for hackers to access your data. This is why security experts recommend using a virtual private network (VPN). VPN is a type of software that sets up a secure link over the Internet, so you can connect from anywhere safely.
When it comes to your Internet security, the best practice is to keep your guard up and educate yourself on the latest scams and tools to protect yourself. Always take a proactive, defensive approach whenever you go online and make sure to back up your data regularly. By employing preventive measures, you can save yourself from all the stress and trouble in the future.