We can always expect that criminals will be looking for easy targets—and the internet is no exception! Back in the 90’s when it was first taking shape, the web didn’t have a lot of oversight or regulation. Shady characters got a hefty jump-start and have kept on going since, finding what they can get away with to be quite profitable. Many of us have been surprised by unknown credit card charges, and almost everyone has seen someone's Facebook account hacked. Hackers want nothing more than to gain unauthorized access to your devices in order to steal sensitive data. They are a fearless bunch because they are rarely prosecuted. Here are some important ways you can stop them:
Use Complex Passwords
The more complex your passwords, the harder it is to be hacked. Don’t reuse old passwords. Many people still do this, and it bears repeating: Don't use the same password for everything! Stay away from using recognizable combinations of words or numbers. A good rule of thumb when making passwords is to have at least eight characters using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Password Managers Are Great
If you are concerned about having to remember all these random passwords, then worry no longer. Password managers create and store passwords for you. Chrome and Safari have their own services built right into the browser. These managers will create a long, complex password and automatically pre-fill it when you login. If you stray from using a browser and opt for a third-party, just be careful who you pick, as there could be nefarious companies out there trying to trick you.
MFA Is A Must
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) requires two or more pieces of verification to succeed in logging into an account. With MFA, you can't simply login with a username and password. For successful logins, you'd need to provide the password and then typically either:
A code texted to your phone; OR
A code that an authenticator app randomly generates.
With MFA enabled, a hacker couldn't access your account(s) with just your password. Almost every company offers MFA. You can go to your Settings and enable this helpful tool.
Update Your Browser
Browsers like Chrome, FireFox, and Edge are always creating new versions. Sometimes, it's to fix vulnerabilities or improve security features to prevent hackers. An old version (like Internet Explorer 10) could be your downfall where the newest Chrome update would have protected you.
Be suspicious of emails from unknown senders and never click on links or attachments that are included in them. If you don't know the sender, just ignore it. Even if you recognize the sender but the email looks strange, call or text them to check if it's legitimate. Finally, beware of urgency. Scammers like to pry on emotions by creating an issue that needs quick resolution.
Use A Firewall
Windows and macOS have built-in firewalls. Sometimes they aren't enabled by default, so double check and make sure this additional security feature is turned on.
Be Careful When Using Public Wi-Fi
Pubic Wi-Fi is a tremendous service that many benefit from when on-the-go or when setting up shop at a coffee place nearby. But the downside is that public Wi-Fi is not the most secure network. Someone could compromise the Wi-Fi and access your information. So using your credit card to buy that amazing deal from a Facebook ad probably isn't a wise thing to do on public Wi-Fi. Save that purchase for when you are home (or better yet, save your time and enable MFA on all your accounts!).