There’s no denying the impact that the digital age has had. Over 4 billion people currently have access to the internet, and that number is expected to continue to rise. While the internet has certainly brought us great convenience by allowing us access to all sorts of information at our fingertips, every time we go online, we put ourselves at risk of a cyberattack.
The number of cyberattacks increases every year. Although we often hear how cybercriminals have targeted major corporations such as Facebook, Adobe, and Sony, the scariest part is that individuals are also at risk.
As technology evolves, so do the cybercriminals’ tactics. They’re getting smarter, more efficient, and more dangerous. There’s a reason why Warren Buffet said that cybersecurity is “the number one problem with humankind.”
But, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are simple behaviors you can change right now that will help you stay safe online.
1. Stop Using Simple Passwords
Birthdays, names, addresses, and the like should not be used as passwords. A strong password will have a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and not include personal information.
Besides having a strong password, remember to use different passwords for different accounts. Not so long ago, we only had a few online accounts that required usernames and passwords, but times have drastically changed. Now, almost every site we visit will encourage us to set up an account with them. Here’s the problem – it becomes difficult to remember all these passwords.
So, what do most people do? They set up the same password for different accounts.
Setting up the same password for different accounts can put your personal information at risk. From the moment hackers gain access to one of your accounts, it’s highly likely that they will try that password on your other accounts.
Keep those cybercriminals at bay by creating complex passwords for each of your accounts. If you’re having trouble remembering all your passwords, there are several programs and apps you can install to help you not only generate strong passwords but remember them as well.
For further security, change the passwords regularly and if any of your accounts have been recently hacked.
2. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi
Logging on to public Wi-Fi can be tempting when you’re at a coffee shop, the airport, or at a hotel. It’s free Wi-Fi, and everyone is using it.
But, here’s the catch – public Wi-Fi is an easy target for hackers. Since they know that it’s free and lots of people will gladly connect to the network, cybercriminals are often lurking there, ready to retrieve all your sensitive data as soon as you log on.
So, do yourself a favor – avoid the risk of using public Wi-Fi and continue using data from your own devices.
Although we strongly advise against the use of public networks, there are instances when you don’t have a choice. If you need to log on to the internet to check something, here’s how you can protect yourself.
First, make sure that you log onto the right network. Ask an employee for the correct wi-fi network name and log on. You can also request the IP address to ensure that you have the right information. This will help to avoid signing on to a fake account that a hacker has created.
Second, avoid sites that require you to enter your login details. Accessing your emails, where you may have stored sensitive information, or doing your banking on a public network should be completely avoided.
Lastly, turn on your VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) helps you stay safe by preventing cybercriminals from accessing your data. It also disguises your IP address, further helping to keep you protected.
3. Stop Clicking on Suspicious Links
This is one of the most common ways cybercriminals get unsuspecting users.
It happens often. You receive an email with an eye-catching headline. You’re then prompted to click on a link to get that “80% off today only sale”. As soon as you click on it, you get directed to a malicious site.
A good rule to live by on the internet is if you don’t know who sent you an email, don’t open it or any of the links or attachments. The same goes for when you’re just browsing and come across pop-ups. Avoid clicking on these as they expose you to all sorts of cyber threats such as malware and viruses.
The safest option you have is to always run your virus scanner on attachments or links that have been sent to you. This will help to ensure that whatever you’re trying to access is safe.
Bonus – Don’t Ignore the Update Notifications
Stay Safe Out There
The great thing about the programs, apps, and anti-virus software we install on our devices is that the developers will often update them. These updates are not only useful to get them working faster, but they also include the latest features and strengthen security.
So, don’t ignore the update notifications. As soon as you get the message, update your devices to help enhance the security features. You can set up automatic updates on all of your devices so that they will be installed as soon as they are available.
Cybercriminals are always online, looking for their next victim. Apply the above guidelines to ensure that you keep your personal information out of their hands.
Sure, cybercriminals may be getting smarter and more advanced, but you can too.
The war against cybercrime is on, and if we all do our part in keeping ourselves protected, we can continue to enjoy the internet safely.
Are you interested in joining the cybersecurity field and learning about more ways you can protect yourself and others online? Reach out to our cybersecurity educational advisors.