All the antivirus software in the world can’t protect against human error… and cybercriminals know this! It’s why we’ve seen such a rise in phishing scams and ransomware in recent years. These types of attacks rely less on brute force and more on exploiting users… and social media is a powerful tool for those looking to prey on the unsuspecting.
So how do you avoid this? Learn to be mindful of online threats, and tighten down your online security to neutralize those threats. Here are four different ways you can easily improve your safety online.
Use Credit Cards
What types of cards you use online are just as important as where you use them. If it’s possible, avoid using debit cards for online transactions. Debit cards are directly linked to your bank account. That means that if a cybercriminal clears out your accounts, you’re out of that money until your fraud claim is settled. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few months! Credit card carriers usually have better fraud protection policies and recovery systems in place in the event that a customer has their information stolen. Plus, your bank account stays safe since credit cards aren’t directly tied to checking or savings.
We all know passwords are important. We’ve all been educated on the basics of password creation, and re-educated again and again. Passwords still need to be mentioned! Your passwords must be secure and unique. Never reuse a password for more than one of your online accounts. You should especially never use the same password for your email address and other satellite accounts! If a hacker gets access to one smaller account, they could then have access to your email address if the passwords are the same. Losing access to your email account makes recovery much more difficult.
Be smart about who you give your email address out to. Subscribing to every email newsletter and online retailer will only open up more opportunities for your account to be exposed to hackers. You can also keep separate email addresses for important information (like banking alerts or bills) versus general sites (like online retail or blog alerts). This will help ensure that your important information is only tied to one secure email address.
Not all wi-fi connections are created equally. You should never connect aimlessly to any Wi-Fi point in range. Fake and malicious hotspots can track all of your information from what you type to where you go. If you must connect to public Wi-Fi, use businesses with password protected networks if possible. Never access sensitive information over public Wi-Fi. For example, don’t visit your bank account online and enter your credentials! When you’re using a public connection, it’s best to act as if someone is watching and writing down everything you type. Don’t put any information out there that you wouldn’t want someone else to see.