Almost every website that asks for your information requires you to set up a password, which can make keeping track of all your login credentials difficult. Try storing your passwords somewhere safe and accessible: nowadays, there are even well-reviewed and secure mobile apps that can store all your passwords. There are also password manager apps like LastPass that generate hard-to-crack passwords and store them for you.
Coffee shop Wifi may be convenient, but it’s easy for us to forget just how easy it is for hackers to steal our data using public Wifi hotspots. If you decide to use public Wifi, avoid making financial transactions or logging in to any sensitive accounts/websites. Consider setting up a basic firewall on your device to block many kinds of attacks, or look into using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data and IP address when using public hotspots.
It’s a disturbing thought, but hackers and even government agencies can use your webcams and microphones to monitor your behavior and collect your information. Devices like smart phones, tablets, smart TVs, nanny cams, laptops, etc. can be used to spy on you: even Alexa of the popular Amazon Echo might be listening in on your conversations. This security issue is more difficult to address. You can cover lenses with tape or angle them towards the wall when they’re not in use, or store your devices in a drawer, under a cushion, or in a padded box. Other than ridding yourself of all devices completely, the best you can do is be mindful of what you do and say when around any lenses or microphones.
Many of us share information about ourselves on social media that we don’t realize hackers can use to their advantage. Social media platforms can reveal your name, age, date of birth, phone number, and location. Personal photos can easily be accessed and used for nefarious purposes. “Checking In” or tagging places and people can reveal commute and address information. Purchases made through social media could also put your credit card information at risk. Many platforms, like Facebook, are constantly updating their safety features in an attempt to prevent such threats. Make sure you check your security settings on your social media profiles and keep them up to date to mitigate new threats. Avoid sharing too much personal information on social media and keep in mind that anything you post can likely be accessed by hackers.
If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Avoid scams that draw people in with the promise of free goods or services, high-paying careers, miracle cures or even true love connections. Hackers will often send messages that appear to be coming from friends and family so that you’re more likely to trust them, or pose as “ordinary people” to take advantage of people’s emotions. Do not click blindly and be wary of giving out your personal information and details willy-nilly. Make sure a website or company is legitimate and secure; and do some basic research to see if other people have fallen prey to the same scam. If you receive a suspicious message from a friend or family member, don’t click and contact them directly to make sure they actually sent it themselves.
Hackers are growing more and more sophisticated in their attacks, so it is important to stay alert and be proactive in protecting yourself and your information online. Use common sense when sharing your personal information and take simple steps to protect the data you do share. In the event of a data breach, you’ll be glad you did!