Keeping your identity safe online is imperative. Whether you know it or not, there are people all over the internet trying to grab your identity and run with it. In order to stay safe, remember these tips:
Use Different Passwords: Even if you have many, many accounts, you have to use different passwords. Even if SpongeBobSquareJeans1234 is your password, it is still easy to break into your account and once they have one password, they have them all. Make sure you are using different passwords on each website. At the very least, don’t reuse your email password. Your email is a fortress that holds all of your deepest secrets. All a criminal needs to do is break into your email account and he has everything about you.
Use Smart Passwords: Is your password your mom’s maiden name followed by your birth year? How about your first pet’s name? These are simple passwords that hackers can easily figure out and get right into your account. Make sure to use capital letters, lowercase letters, symbols, and even things that just don’t make sense to keep your accounts private. Once again, make sure your email password is the hardest. One great tip is to use a sentence as the basis. For example, “Darren Criss is a really attractive.” While people may be able to guess your favorite actor and that your password has to do with him, “DCIARA” isn’t the easiest password to guess.
Never Click on a Link You Didn’t Expect: We saw this just the other week with Google, someone was able to hack in and send messages from Google Docs. People saw messages from people they knew and clicked on them and became targets of phishing attacks. To keep things simple, never click on links that you didn’t think you’d get. If you feel uncomfortable, send a follow up email saying, “Just wanted to make sure this was correct.”
Don’t Share Private Information: We live in a world where our every move is tracked by social media. Whether you are snapping your whereabouts or you are tweeting about the president, sometimes your thoughts don’t need to be shared with the general public. Instead, focus on putting as little information out there as possible and keep your accounts locked.
Use Your Blocking Skills: If you don’t trust a website, if you don’t want those Facebook friend requests or you don’t know that person trying to connect with you on LinkedIn, just block them. It is the cyber equivalent of ignoring that guy cat calling you on the streets. Do the same thing with Pop-ups. You have to ignore them and not click on them, no matter how enticing they may be.
Wipe Your Phone: What happens if you lose your phone? Make sure to have Find My iPhone or Android Lost installed so that you can remotely wipe everything off your phone it is lost or stolen. Having a key code or even your thumb print locking it won’t be enough for some criminals, they’ll be able to break in without any trouble.
Have Antivirus: So many people don’t have antivirus installed on their computers, making the susceptible to all sorts of attacks. There are plenty of packages out there that are inexpensive and even some that are free. While it might be a pain to have your computer scanned, it is worth it to ensure everything is safe and sound.
Trust Where You Shop: Don’t shop on stores you don’t know or trust. Entering your card details on a website that seems fishy is just opening you up to a bunch of bad luck. Don’t assume that your bank will pay you back or be able to stop the money from coming out of your account. Make sure not to store your credit card information on websites either. Mass security breaches are too common and can leave you vulnerable. The same thing goes for auction websites as well – they aren’t always trustworthy and you have to be extremely careful where your information goes.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi hotspots are great, but they don’t always encrypt the data that leaves your computer and goes to the web. This means that anyone who knows how to can find that information. If you do have to use it, make sure you only put in information that you are comfortable going to the general public – and always remember to “forget” the hot spots once you leave.
Keep Different Emails: Think about having one email that is for your professional accounts, one for your bank accounts, and one for shopping and social networks. This makes it easier for you to recover if one of your accounts is hacked. It can also help you to spot problems like phishing.
At the end of the day, remember that you are human and you are going to make mistakes and get hacked. There are people all over the world who do this for a living and they are extremely good at it. Hacking that is done well preys on humans, not computers. Make sure not to answer emails from people you don’t know, fall prey to schemes about someone needing money, and never give out your password because you have no idea where it will end up. Someone could just overhear your conversation and get access to everything you have and hold dear.