Going online to get anything done feels like you’re dipping your toes into treacherous waters. Whether it’s advertising cookies doing their very best to keep detailed records of everything that you’re doing so, they can sell you something, or cybercriminals watching your every move so they can get at your personal information and your money.
But it’s not like you can just stop going online. Banks are closing their brick-and-mortar locations, and everyone has gotten used to having the accessibility that we have now.
Even though many devices are coming equipped with better and better security features, it’s still up to you to make sure that you are giving yourself adequate protection online.
Stop Websites Collecting Your Personal Data
Even if it’s not actively harmful, it’s still invasive when websites and brands harvest your personal details and preferences to use for advertising. Although it’s worth noting that if the people who hold those details get hacked themselves, then you run the risk of someone else having that data. So, how can you make sure that you keep as much of your business out of their hands?
You can start by taking the time to reject all cookies when a website prompts you about it. Yes, it can be tedious going through each option and making sure that you’ve opted out, but it’s worth it in the long run. You should also be using an ad-blocker. These will bounce away any ads, targeted or not, from the sites you’re visiting.
More and more websites are detecting ad-blockers and may tell you that you can’t access their content until you’ve disabled it, which is where an undetectable ad-blocker comes in handy.
Change Your Passwords, Right Now
Let’s proceed with one thing most of us know about but can be very easy to forget. The fact is that most people are juggling so many different passwords that it’s so simple to end up reusing at least one or two. How are you really expected to remember them all? Well, the sad truth is that cybercriminals are banking on you using the same login details for multiple sites and services.
They want you to be forgetful, and they want you to be lazy. So, if it’s been a while since you last changed those passwords, get on it right now. You should also think about using a random password generator.
Not only does this take the pressure off you to think about what words or phrases you haven’t used before, but it ensures that there’s no obvious link to be made between you and the password.
Think About What You’re Sharing
One of the great joys of social media is that you can share the things that matter to you in your life with your friends, family and even strangers. However, there’s always going to be the chance that you end up oversharing, and that doesn’t just mean going into too much detail about the food poisoning that takeaway gave you.
A lot of people don’t think about how much they show off their homes when they share pictures for example. It may be very easy for someone to see exactly where you live, and even what kind of locks you have on your door.
Alternatively, when you answer those fun surveys that include the “name of the first street you lived on” or even when your birthday is, you may actually be giving away the answers to the kind of security questions that you’ve got set up with your bank for example. No one is saying that you need to go off the grid. You just need to be a little more aware.
Think Twice Before Clicking Or Opening Anything
As mentioned above, one of the main things that cybercriminals are relying on is that you might end up making a silly mistake. You may be over-tired and over-stressed, but you still need to take a moment before you click on a link or open an attachment.
One of the easiest ways to check if an email is legit is to look twice at the actual address that it came from, not just the display name. You might see that it looks almost right, but that there’s an extra letter or number that there shouldn’t be. The language used in the message is always a classic giveaway, especially if it’s coming from someone pretending to be a friend or your boss.
If the address is correct, but the message is urging you to send money or other information quickly, it’s always worth getting in touch with the sender directly in a new message chain or calling them.