With more people online than ever before, online security has never been as important. The phones and computers that connect you to teachers, colleagues, and friends may be vulnerable to a cyberattack if you’re not careful.
To make sure you’re safe as you carry out your life online, here are some actionable cybersecurity tips you can follow today.
Lock Down Your Wi-Fi and Hotspots
As your connection to the Internet, your router is where the magic happens. It controls the flow of data between your smart devices and the Internet at large, so it’s crucial you protect it.
If you don’t, external eyes can take a peek at what you’re sending over this line — whether it’s the details of your personal loan application or government funding information.
To make sure no one can eavesdrop on your surfing, be sure to:
- Rename your router from the original SSI that it came with
- Make a strong password consisting of random letters, numbers, and characters
- Share this password only to family and friends you trust
- Regularly check for devices connecting to your Wi-Fi
Don’t Get Hooked by Phishing Scams
Phishers work hard to con you into sending them personal information. They pose as a trusted company or personal contact, copying their logos, trademark, and even sending mail from their account. They do whatever it takes to get a predatory link or corrupted attachment in your inbox.
Some phishers pose as trusted financial institutions, like a bank or online lender. Even the IRS can act as their smokescreen.
They use these companies’ reputation to intimidate you into doing something unusual — like sending your financial details in a direct reply or paying via gift cards. These are things legitimate companies will never do.
Does that mean you have to be suspicious of every email from a financial institution? Not quite. Just be critical whenever it asks you to do something.
If you take out small payday loans online, for example, you may receive genuine emails from direct payday lenders. But they will never ask you to send your bank account details or credit card numbers in an email. Like big banks and the IRS, online direct payday lenders host an online profile where you can manage your account.
Exchange Data with Trusted Sources
Never share your data unless you’re certain you’re dealing with a legitimate company or organization. Before you fill out an application or type in your banking info, always do a background check on the website.
You’ll want to see they have valid site certificates and SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption to protect any information you send them. It’s also a good idea to check their online reputation. People won’t hesitate to share whether they think something is a scam.
Use a Unique Strong Password
When it comes to strong passwords, choosing something that contains a number, an upper and lowercase letter, and a character makes it hard to crack by brute force. They’re even tougher when you never reuse them.
That may be tough considering how many accounts you have, but don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be as random as you think. Security experts say a passphrase is just as good.
A passphrase consists of a sentence that’s easy to remember but hard to guess.
Here’s an example:
You can turn a phrase like I like ice cream into a decent password by making it Ilik3icecre@m. It has all the hallmarks of a strong password without being a random string of numbers and letters.
The average person is online in some shape or form for six hours a day. The Internet has become such a normal part of your day that it’s easy to take your digital security for granted. But don’t overlook what you can do to keep your data safe. Use these tips to ensure you’re protected every time you log on.