With the variety of activities we perform online, from shopping to bill pay, a lot of sensitive data is floating around cyberspace. While hackers stealing this data are an increasingly common problem, the chances of getting hit are still relatively small, which can create a false sense of security, and lax efforts at keeping our information safe. It would behoove us to take some basic steps to protect ourselves, and minimize the risk of becoming one of the ‘victims.’ Here are just a few important considerations.
Use Different Passwords
If you are like the average person, you have a large number of sites that require a password to access. For the sake of simplicity, we tend to use the same one for all of them, but this not a good idea. But, this can be problematic when it comes to keeping your data safe—if a hacker gets wind of your password for one site, he can easily access other sites. It is particularly important to have a unique password for your email—this is the hub of your online experience. If a hacker has your email password, he can easily request new passwords for myriad sites, and control the accounts.
Use Different Security Questions
The reasoning for this second tip is the same as the first. If a hacker figures out the answers to your security questions on one account, and you are using the same ones on another, he can gain access to other information easily. Change up the questions for each account to prevent this from happening.
Keep Systems Up to Date
Hackers quickly jump on vulnerabilities in various programs, from Java to Acrobat, which underscores the importance of running the most current versions, and installing any patches released to address specific vulnerabilities.
Use Apps Wisely
If you are downloading apps for your devices, proceed with caution. As they grow in popularity, it will become another avenue through which hackers try to gain access to your personal information. This article How a Fake App Reached #1 in the Google App Store – And What We Can Learn From It, discusses this very problem, and gives some great tips for evaluating the legitimacy of the apps. Fortunately, the creators of the app discussed in this article weren’t looking to steal information, but simply get people to buy it and make some quick money. First and foremost, only buy apps from the official one for your platform.
Click with Caution
Be careful what you click on. Hackers often worm their way in by enticing you to claim free prizes and gifts. Other things of which to be cautious include offers for smiley icons, screen savers, and software to print coupons. Be wary of sites that allow you to download free content, such as movies—they are often rife with malware.
As sophisticated as hackers are, you can see that the most effective measures for protecting yourself as best as possible are quite simple. If you follow these tips, you can go a long way in shielding your private information from prying eyes with ill intentions.