Do you fear that you may be exposing your personal information when you submit personal information online? That's not paranoia; it makes perfect sense! High-level breaches are possible, and there's nothing you can do to prevent them. However, other attacks on your security and privacy are a lot more invasive. You may decide to work on your novel one day, only to find that ransomware has encrypted all your current chapters.
Follow these five simple guidelines to safeguard yourself against identity theft, data breaches, and other internet security risks:
- Use Strong Passwords: It's essential to protect yourself online with strong passwords. This means you’ll need different logins for all your social media, bank accounts, and streaming services. The consequences of a data breach are serious and can have a lasting impact on your life. If you use weak passwords, then hackers can steal your personal information (e.g., social-security numbers or bank-account numbers), which they might then use to commit identity theft! A strong password is at least eight characters long and contains a mixture of letters, numbers, and special characters. You should also use a different password for each online account.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication: Two-factor authentication two pieces of information to log into an account. This could be something you know (e.g., a password), and something you have, (e.g., a security token or smartphone). Multi-factor authentication (MFA) helps protect against scammers who want to access your account’s sensitive data by obtaining your password.
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- Install Antivirus Software: The idea that simply being extra careful online will render one safe from cyberattacks is merely a myth. In an age when even big organizations suffer data breaches and lose customers, it's essential to have antivirus programs on your personal computer, as well! Antivirus software can help protect your computer from malware and other attacks. Ensure that you keep your antivirus software updated for maximum protection.
- Be Aware of Phishing Scams: Phishing scams are emails or websites that lure you into revealing your personal information. Never respond to requests for personal information via email. Legitimate organizations will never ask you for passwords, credit-card numbers, or any other private details via email. If an unsolicited message arrives that requests this kind of information, indicate that it is not appropriate by sending them a polite refusal with instructions on how they may contact you in the future. If you don’t know who the sender is, then simply delete the message.
- Keep Your Software Updated: Updates often include security patches that fix vulnerabilities within the software. Ensure that you install updates as soon as they become available.
These are just a few tips to help improve your online security. By following these five simple steps, you can make it harder for hackers to steal your information and/or damage your computer. Stay safe online!