Five Easy Internet Safety Tips for 2018
With all the news about net neutrality, data breaches, airport security its not wonder that cyber security is in the news every single day. It’s no longer a matter of “Will my bank account be hacked?” it’s come down to “How many times this year will I notice something erroneous on my accounts?” There are steps you can take to tighten up your own internet safety, like changing credit cards or banks. But others are a lot easier and faster to implement.
- Create Stronger Passwords – Recently I was at my sister’s house. My brother in-law quickly offered up the WiFi password to the kids so they wouldn’t become bored. The password was my sister’s name with a few sequential numbers after it. (Note to hackers – I have a few sisters so I’m not telling which one is involved!) Are creating passwords with your children’s or pet’s names? Stop right now and change them. Hackers love you, the easy target. Creating passwords with other easily traceable information make you prime for a social engineering attack.
Are you still using the same password you did last year? Perhaps your password has not been changed in the last decade (or more!) Change your password as often as you change your toothbrush. If you never take care of your teeth either, then change your password at least every six months, but quarterly is better.
- Start Using Encrypted Messaging – I started using Signal Encrypted messaging in 2017. I also use WhatsApp and messenger for messaging. It’s a lot more convenient than emailing especially when I’m traveling. Encrypted messagingSignal is my favorite and the one I use the most. It offers end-to-end encryption and now even has disappearing messages (just like Snapchat) You’ll also be notified if a device is not authorized.
- Avoid Using Public WiFi – If the only WiFi connection you have available is public – i.e. the WiFi you at your local coffee shop, an airport, or a retail store, or the like – then try to accomplish whatever you must do with an old school phone call. When you log into a public WiFi connection then you are giving hackers the opportunity to steal your login credentials. Social media accounts are generally tied to an email address. That email address can be used to get to a bank account. Once in your bank account, your money can be transferred away. Don’t log-In Via Public WiFi if you don’t have to. Wait until you can get to a secure connection or use a private virtual private network. Even paid high-speed connections like those in hotels, can be easily sniffed for data with $30 devices sold on online.
- Remove Personal Information from Social Media Accounts – I’m talking about your birthdate, hometown, and other details like your Pets’ names. Why? These are all common password reset questions. We all love it when our Facebook friends wish us well on our birthday, but did you know that publishing personally identifying information like your birthdate is a good start for a hacker looking to scrape data in a social engineering attack.
- Learn How to Identify an Online Scam – Malware and email hacks were at record highs last year. WannaCry brought down the British Health Care system with hacking tool, called EternalBlue, developed by the NSA; Equifax was hacked revealing the personally identifying information of over 140 million people in the United States; Yahoo! announced a second data breach where billions of email accounts were hacked.
Photo by NASA on Unsplash
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers