While there are many conveniences to living in a digital age, there are also risks. Someone could steal your identity and run up debt in your name, damaging your credit record. A hacker could also steal your bank information and wipe out your savings. Protecting yourself online is just as important as locking your front door at night. Here are some tips to help avoid hackers and other cyber criminals.
1. Invest in a Virtual Private Network
First, let’s do a reality check. There are no perfect security programs. The best hacker in the world can break into any system, including at the Pentagon and MIT. However, most hackers prefer the easier path. They will sit in public Wi-Fi areas and look for those people who have vulnerable systems.
That is why a virtual private network (VPN) system is so important. This security program hides your online identity by running you through a remote server. A VPN also encrypts all of your data, making it tougher for hackers to steal.
2. Don’t Make Purchases or Check Your Bank Account Using Public Wi-Fi
An internet cafe is a great location to drink coffee and surf the net, but it isn’t the place to make online orders or check your bank balance. Those who are sitting nearby can easily tap in and see what you are doing.
Only make purchases and check your balance in areas where you have a secured connection. Stick to doing important work or sensitive transactions at your secured home and office internet connections if possible.
3. Never Open a Link or Attachment You Aren’t Sure About
Never open an attachment or link from a sender you don’t know. Also, be careful about other links as well. Opening such links could infect your computer with a virus or malware. Ask yourself these questions first before opening anything:
- Is this a file you expected? Call the sender to ensure that person sent it.
- Look at the file extension. If it ends with an exe or bat, be wary.
- Is the file from work or another trusted organization? If not, don’t open it.
4. Turn Off Phone Apps You Aren’t Using
Apps on your cell phone, including your wireless connection and a GPS system, can drain your battery and leave you exposed to hackers, who can use these apps to find your location and steal your data.
Turn these apps off when you’re not using them, or better yet delete them if possible. Mobile applications are often times security threats and liabilities when it comes to being tracked wherever you go.
5. Set Up Safety Protocols on Your Smartphone
Your smartphone is a mini-computer loaded with personal information you need to keep secure. Only use apps that have encryption or similar techniques on your phone, so hackers have a difficult time reading your data. Make sure your phone is always up to date. That way, you will be running on the most secure version of the software.
Delete those apps you don’t use. Do a purge on a regular basis to eliminate those programs you no longer need. Also, set up your phone so that it locks after a certain number of attempts to log in.
A good security system for your online data is just as important as a home security system. Protect yourself and those you love from cyber attacks.