Four Ways to Protect Yourself From Cyber Crimeby Courtney Myers Professional Writer and Editor
As digital technology continues to proliferate into almost every facet of our lives, from the way we order groceries to the way we watch movies, we are more connected than ever before. Turns out, we’re also more vulnerable. Cyber criminals are taking advantage of the slew of information we’re sharing and streaming, using it to hack into our most personal and confidential data, from our banking information to our home location.
Thankfully, there are a few simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to cyber crime. Let’s take a look at five today.
1. Strengthen your passwords.
This one is first on our list, because it’s often the first plan of attack for would-be hackers. If your password is weak, short, or easy to guess, the data behind it isn’t protected to the fullest extent. Remember, these criminals are highly skilled in computer technology and as such, can easily crack a simple password code such as your birthday, home address, dog’s name, and more. If you’re relying on a simple password that uses that information, it’s time to switch over to a more sophisticated one.
One idea is to use a mnemonic password that’s more of an acronym for a longer sentence rather than a complete word. For instance, you might have a password that reads 2018WBMBYE, which doesn’t make sense at the onset, but stands for “2018 Will Be My Best Year Ever.” Don’t make it so complex that you have a hard time remembering it, but make the sentence something personal and special to you so that no one else can guess it. To keep track of multiple passwords, consider using a password manager so you have quick but protected access to all your stored data.
2. Don’t click blindly.
We’re so used to clicking or scrolling as a society that we often don’t think twice about downloading an email attachment or pressing on a link. Yet, it’s wise to think twice before you do so, as you never know when malware could be hiding behind even the most seemingly innocent page. Even if the link or attachment is sent from someone you know, they might not know what’s lurking behind their innocent attachment. As cyber criminals learn new tactics and sharpen their attack tools, they can even make entire websites that look legitimate but are, indeed, gateways into a scam. From a Gmail login page to a business listing, they can replicate almost any professional online space, so double check the legitimacy before you open, share or click.
Investigate each attachment and verify that the person sending it is who they say they are and that they’re a trusted resource. This might seem like an extra step, but it only takes one click to introduce a host of viruses onto your system, so it’s worth taking the time to do a little due diligence beforehand.
3. Upgrade your security software.
Do you get pop-up notifications that your security software needs to be updated, or that you’re not running the latest version? If you’re like most people, you click “ignore” or “remind me later” and never get around to making the update. Yet, it’s in your best interest to do so and here’s why: Cyber criminals are increasingly sophisticated and are introducing new methods of attack around every turn. Thus, while your old version might have been adept at preventing most attacks or viruses, there could be a new and more tech-savvy strain released tomorrow that easily infiltrates a compromised device. Download the strongest security software you can and keep up with maintenance, updates and new version installations.
4. Don’t fall victim to scareware.
For the most part, you can download solid and reliable computer security software over the internet for free. Moreover, you can also take steps to use a secure internet browser that comes equipped with firewalls and browser protection features to even further strengthen your protection. Yet, there are some scams out there that offer an increased level of protection if you’ll pay a specific amount, scaring you into buying their services by scaring you into the purchase with details on how weak your system is, how vulnerable you are, or how many viruses they’ve already detected on your computer with a simple scan.
As social engineering and ransomware sophisticates, criminals have the ability to know more about you than you might think possible and as such, they know what to say to pull on your emotions. Yet, keep in mind that a reputable security company will never scare you into purchasing their products and will keep the price point reasonable.
Moving forward, there are plenty of ways to stay safe online and protect yourself from cyber criminal activity. One important rule of thumb to also remember is to limit the amount of personal information that you share online in general. For instance, though online banking is convenient, you might opt to do yours at the brick-and-mortar bank instead. Or, you may decide to not share your location on social media. Regardless, remember the rule that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so take these steps today to proactively safeguard your data. Then, you’ll be able to avoid the headache, stress and fallout that can occur from a cyber crime.
Created on Jun 22nd 2018 08:29. Viewed 515 times.