Let’s face it, technological advancements over the past decades have changed the way we live. Today, almost every other person around the globe is leveraging technology in their routine lives. For example, from pursuing online education to shopping online and playing video games, the internet offers endless benefits to its users today.
Yet, as internet users grow worldwide, these users are more at risk of online threats and scams. Moreover, as cybercriminals become more sophisticated in their attacks, it’s natural to feel paranoid while using the internet. For instance, you might be feeling worried that one day you will open your online banking app and see a big fat zero balance in your account because some hacker has stolen your credentials.
Or maybe you are apprehensive that the pictures you shared on social media accounts got stolen by online scammers, and they might ask for a Ransome from you. Cybercrimes can indeed happen to anyone at any time. Yet, the good news is that you can adopt different ways to keep yourself safe from online thefts. So are you wondering what the most effective ways to protect yourself from online crimes are? Then, take a look closer at the list below that will keep you protected in your online life:
1. Set complex passwords
Your first line of defense against online attacks is your password. Unfortunately, once the cybercriminals learn your password, they can do anything they wish. So first thing first – make sure to create a password that is hard to decode for hackers. Moreover, to ensure your local area network has a secure connection, it must have strong passcode. Thus, that is where the role of the network security key comes into play.
The network security key refers to the password or digital code that helps you connect to your network and avoid access to unauthorized devices. Your devices need a password to connect with your home Wi-Fi; that password is the network security key. For instance, you probably have a Wi-Fi router at your home. A pro tip is to set a long password that is a mixture of numbers, special characters, upper and lowercase letters.
Also, make sure to set different and unique passwords for every account. Note that you should never share your passwords with anyone. In addition, make sure to reset your passwords every once in a while.
2. Use a VPN
Virtual Private Network or VPN refers to an encrypted connection that enables you to mask your online activities. In this manner, third parties can’t snoop on what you are doing online. If possible, try using VPN. Picture this; you are sitting in a local diner and using free Wi-Fi to surf the internet for anything, such as a reply to work emails. Do you know whether the network you are using is secure or not? Obviously not.
There is a high possibility that someone might be snooping on what you are doing on your device without you even knowing. For this reason, VPN can come in handy. By using a VPN, you can protect your data from prying eyes. Even the Wi-Fi owner won’t know anything.
3. Keep your devices up-to-date
One of the most crucial tips you must adopt to save yourself from cyber attacks is keeping your devices and system up-to-date. Answer this. Is your device notifying you of the latest update? Are you ignoring it because you believe you have more important tasks at your hand at the moment and you would update it later? However, it can land you in hot waters.
Regularly updating can protect you from online scams because developers continuously monitor the system or device and send an update to fix any possible patches. Therefore, it is advisable to turn on automatic updates and frequently scan your devices or software to protect yourself from online threats.
4. Be careful about clicking links
Another tip to keep yourself safe from online danger is by being smart. One common way hackers attack devices are by tricking victims into clicking on suspicious links. Scammers may urge you to click on these links by sending them on your email, SMS, etc. In addition, scammers often ask you for personal information by trapping you into offering you a job opportunity or money.
Today, online scammers use several ways to steal online identities and personal information. So stay alert and avoid clicking on the attachments or links that may seem unfamiliar or suspicious. While it is true, you must not click on the links sent to you from untrusted sources. However, be cautious even when the link comes from a trusted friend or family member.
5. Protect yourself with multi-factor authentication
Sure, you have set strong and complex passwords to secure all your accounts on the internet. But are you still feeling a little delusional that hackers might attack you? In that case, consider using multi-factor authentication. Once you enter your email and password in the multi-factor authentication method, the service sends a verification code to verify your identity before giving you access.
And while multi-factor authorization might seem a nuisance to you because you need to spend a couple more minutes before gaining access each time you log in. Yet, it can give you additional security. Even if cybercriminals know your password, they can’t do much since they can’t access your account. Usually, services send you a code on your phone number or email address to authenticate your identity.
6. Check website security and encryption
Whenever you open a website to make any financial transaction or do shopping online, check whether the website is authentic and reliable. Start by noticing the address line of the website. If the website address starts with HTTPS instead of HTTP, it indicates any data you share on the website is secure and encrypted.
Moreover, a padlock symbol appears on the top right side of the website address bar if the website is trustworthy. Avoid sharing your personal credentials on a website that doesn’t have these two, as they are more vulnerable to online attacks.
According to the Identity Theft Research Center (ITRC) report, around 294 million people were victims of data breaches in 2021. No wonder keeping yourself safe from online scams is a full-time job. One minor slip up from your end, you might have to suffer from severe adverse consequences.
Undoubtedly, cybercriminals are becoming more professional in the present age. And while you might think using the internet is becoming dangerous with all the hacking and scamming. Adopting a few security measures such as strong passwords, updating software and devices, being careful in clicking links, etc., can help you save yourself from online threats.
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Pavel Danilyuk.