Due to the internet becoming a necessity for many, cyberattacks and hackers are becoming more prevalent and aggressive. Cyberattacks happen when you least expect them and you can never be certain of your safety, so it’s best to be prepared to the best of your ability. Though there is never a guarantee that you can steer clear of every single cyberattack, those who use preventative measures rarely become victims.
As there are so many tutorials available online, hacking has unfortunately become a career for some internet users and it’s unlikely to die down any time soon. There is a huge profit to be made from your information and the information companies have on you, so you need to protect yourself where you can (and lobby your service providers to guarantee your safety where they are concerned).
That being said, you don’t need to fear using the internet. Here are four strategies you should start to implement today.
Strengthen All of Your Passwords
Hackers often get into people’s accounts because they can easily guess or force the account owner’s password. Some services have made it a requirement to create a (relatively) strong password in order to sign up, but there are still many websites and services that don’t have this requirement in place.
Given that a lot of personal information is rather publicly displayed online (on social media and elsewhere), it’s always a good idea to refrain from using any identifiable information within your verification information. You’d be surprised by how often passwords are simply guessed by hackers because account holders use details such as their birthdate or name. On that note, try to avoid using any words you can find in the dictionary as well, as some hackers go through those first.
Strong passwords should also always contain a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols whenever possible. If you tend to have trouble remembering your passwords, consider using some password management software. It’ll let you stay away from using the same password more than once.
Install Security Software
Installing security software is one of the easiest ways you can avoid getting hacked and it can often protect you from malware and spyware before it begins to do any major damage to your device. For example, an anti-virus program can quickly inform you if any viruses have been detected on your device or if a download isn’t safe to open. If you haven’t started using an anti-virus or security suite program yet, consider installing a free one such as Avast. You can even use some of them on your smartphone as well (and that’s recommended).
Another service you should use to avoid getting hacked is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It makes you inaccessible (if not invisible) to hackers who might be trying to access your device while you’re connected to an unsecured network.
As described by Secure Thoughts in their analysis of the best VPN for multiple devices, it’s not uncommon for your mobile device to automatically connect to WiFi hotspots. This can leave you open to a cybercriminal who’s likely interested in stealing your information. This can unfortunately happen on your other devices as well if your connection isn’t encrypted.
By using a VPN service, all of your internet traffic will be routed through a secure remote server, encrypting your connection and also masking your IP address, protecting your privacy online. It’s the best and often only defense against certain forms of tracking and snooping.
Pay Close Attention to Your Emails
Though it’s definitely inconvenient at times to be cautious when you’re using the internet, it can be especially important to pay close attention to your emails or any other messages you might receive online. Sometimes hackers send out phony emails that are intended to trick internet users into clicking on malicious hyperlinks or sharing personal information.
Emails sent out by hackers can often appear to be legitimate and may contain images or content that seems to be from known contacts. The email address may be very similar to that of a familiar contact of yours, but make sure it’s really them via a phone call or text if something seems suspicious.
Pay close attention to the message inside the email. Is it a message that is persuading you to click on a specific hyperlink or download a file? Is it from a business you commonly shop at and asking for personal information?
Companies aren’t very likely to email you for your password or any personal information so keep an eye out for potential scams in your inbox. Don’t explore emails too deeply without checking in again. If it’s important, you’ll be reminded about it. If you feel like you’ve opened a bad email, be sure to open up your anti-virus program and manually run a full virus scan as soon as possible.
If you don’t have your internet-enabled devices set to update all of your software automatically, it’s a wise idea to do so. If you don’t want all of your software to update automatically, make sure you manually update the ones you don’t mind upgrading to the latest version regularly.
Software updates can actually prevent you from getting hacked, as vulnerabilities in the software are often patched with each update. The older a program is, the more likely a hacker or two has figured out how to use its vulnerabilities to their advantage.
By keeping your software updated, utilizing security programs, paying attention to subtle details in your messages and email, and strengthening your passwords, you’re a lot less likely to get hacked. Yet we’d like to know what, if anything, you’ve been doing to avoid hackers and malware. Anything on top of what’s been mentioned above? Please share your tips with us in the comments section below!