This guest post is by Regi Publico.
Internet access is no longer a luxury that only a few people enjoy. It has become ingrained in our daily lives. Students, workers, housewives, corporate executives, and political leaders all rely on the internet for a lot of things. But as the role of the internet expanded in the digital age, so did the opportunities for hacking and other cybercrime.
There are layers of security that help protect internet users from malicious parties, but just like how police officers can’t protect everyone, these security measures can’t either. According to the World Economic Forum, 95 percent of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. This figure shows a huge part of online security rests in the hands of the internet user.
Thankfully, it isn’t so difficult to improve your online security. There are many ways you can prevent yourself from being prey to hackers, and they aren’t too hard to do.
Tip 1 – Use stronger passwords
Every time you sign up for something on the internet, you are asked to provide a username and a password. Most sites today require a minimum character count, symbols, and a number in passwords to ensure they’re not so easy to crack. Despite this requirement, users still create weak passwords since they are easier to remember. To make things worse, they use the same password for everything else. All it takes is for a hacker to get that one password and they can get a hold of all their accounts.
If you’re among the people who use the same simple password for all your accounts, you’re at great risk. Fortunately, maintaining strong passwords and using a different one for each account has become a lot easier today. This is thanks to password managers. Browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge have built-in password managers that let you save usernames and passwords for every site you visit. They also have a password generator that provides a strong password you can use. If you want a more robust feature set, you can use a dedicated password manager such as LastPass and Dashlane and pay for a premium subscription.
Tip 2 – Use multi-factor authentication
Your username and password are just the first lines of defense. Despite how complex and how diverse your passwords are, they can’t still guarantee absolute protection from hackers. A strong password is hard to crack, but it is still possible. Besides, there are plenty of other ways they can acquire your passwords. This is why you need to use multi-factor authentication (MFA).
In the event of a data breach, you will need the extra layer of security MFA provides. For instance, if a hacker attempts to access your bank account and steal your money, they won’t be able to do so even if they have your username and password. An attempt to log in from an unrecognized device would trigger MFA to send an authentication code to your mobile number or email address. Unless the hacker has possession of your smartphone, they won’t be able to access your account.
Tip 3 – Learn to identify malicious emails
Another way hackers can steal your personal information is by malicious emails or phishing. If you rarely check your emails, you’re at a lower risk but if you’re a business owner or an office worker who frequently works with emails, you are more likely to be targeted. The key is learning to identify which emails shouldn’t be trusted.
- Verify the sender’s address – make sure they are the intended sender and match it with the domain they’re using.
- Check for grammar and spelling errors – many hackers are bad at writing sentences.
- For internal emails, check via alternative means – verify through other channels (e.g. Skype, Slack, and Teams) whether the email was meant to be sent to you.
- Spot a fake website – there are many ways to spot a fake website. If an email contains a link to a site that only uses “http://” instead of “https://” you should avoid entering your personal information. Browsers like Chrome also put a padlock sign next to the URL or “Not secure” text to help users identify which sites are secure.
Tip 4 – Keep your device’s security up to date
As annoying as Windows updates can be, you want to have them downloaded and installed as soon as you can. Most of these updates are security updates that help your device guard itself against cyberattacks. They make sure your device’s security is up to date given that threats are always finding new ways to get through the defenses.
If your device is running on unsupported software such as Windows 7, then you’re at greater risk. Your device will no longer receive security updates, at least not for free. To make sure your device and the information it holds are secure, it’s advisable to upgrade to the latest operating system.
It may seem like it from time to time, but the internet is not a lawless wasteland where everyone is out to get you. For the average user, there are not a lot of threats to be concerned with as hackers are more likely to target people who have something valuable, like rich people and business executives. However, you can attract malicious parties if you’re careless online. By following the tips above, you deter hackers from targeting you and even if they do, they’ll be guaranteed to have a hard time.
About Guest Writer
Regi Publico is a full-time writer based in Manila who is also an artist for fun. She takes pride in her towering collection of books and loves reading about anything under the sun. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge through every article that she writes.