The digital age has revolutionized our lives, but now that our homes are stuffed with internet-connected devices, the risk of compromising your online security is far greater. Just how safe are you—and how can you minimize your vulnerability when shopping online, paying your bills, or even checking your e-mail? Here are seven tips to improve your security online.
A Common Password is A Weak Password
It may surprise you, but people are still choosing some pretty dumb passwords. NBC recently compiled a list of common, obvious passwords released in the recent LinkedIn hack. It wouldn’t take a master cybercriminal long to bypass these half-hearted efforts, which included “1234,” “sex,” “work,” and even good old “password.”
There are many tips available to help you choose a strong, password that’s still one you can easily remember. A combination of letters and numbers is advisable, and try to mix in upper and lower cases if the website in question allows you to do so.
Vary Those Passwords
Even if you have a complicated password, using the same code for various sites and accounts could cause serious problems—if a hacker cracks one, he’s got ’em all. And if one hack is a headache, imagine the pain if someone accessed all of your bank information, online shopping accounts, and e-mail contacts in one fell swoop.
Use different passwords for each site, and if you’re struggling to remember them, purchase a security app such aa Splash ID. For around ten bucks, this piece of software will store unlimited passwords, and 256-bit Blowfish encryption ensures that it’s hack-free.
Greasy Fingers Can Give Away Clues
If you use a pattern ID to unlock your cellphone, then you may be giving hackers an easy clue if you lose your device or are unfortunate enough to have it stolen. Fingerprints and greasy streaks can show that pattern to a thief, allowing them to ape it and gain access to your data.
Fortunately this is an easy fix: Simply use a combo move that follows no strict pattern. Even if your phone falls into the wrong hands, there will be too many permutations for the criminal to follow your trail.
Time is Not on Your Side
If you have a short screen lock on your phone, it can get annoying to constantly tap in your pass code every time you need to text or check your e-mail. There is a clear temptation to extend the time between locks—but doing that could make your device far more vulnerable to crooks.
The same principle applies to PCs, tablets, MacBooks and laptops: A long delay between an active screen and the time it takes for your equipment to “sleep” gives the opportunist thief that much more time to access all of your valuable data. Keep that short screen lock and optimize your digital security.
Two Steps to Security Heaven
Two-step verification is a big talking point when it comes to online security, and its absence has helped lead to some very high profile Twitter hacks in the past. But it’s not just social media that comes under attack if you only use a one step procedure to protect your presence.
The second step in a traditional verification process sends a code to your mobile phone, which you then input into the website in order to prove your identity. It’s so simple, and while it isn’t used everywhere, do opt into these two simple steps whenever possible to keep even the most fiendish hackers at bay.
Software and internet-connected devices are being updated all the time—but, sadly, so are viruses and malware. Regular software updates can be tiresome, and many of us were uninspired by the introduction of a Greek keyboard to Apple’s IOS 7.
But the best operators are bringing in additional updates to counter ever-increasing threats, and if you aren’t updating when prompted to do so, your internet security is undoubtedly much weaker.
Back to Basics
As a final tip, make sure that you have an effective antivirus installed on your PC, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. It may sound obvious but it’s claimed that [tp lang=”en” only=”y”]as many as 61% of mobile phone users don’t have any virus-fighting software[/tp][tp not_in=”en”]as many as 61% of mobile phone users don’t have any virus-fighting software[/tp] on their device.
Research the best security apps and remember, there are some very effective antivirus products that are free to install and won’t cost you a cent. No matter what you choose, don’t surf without adequate protection, or it’s only a matter of time before your online security is broken.
What online security apps have you used to maximize your protection? Have you ever been a victim of cyber hacking yourself?
Guest article written by: Kevin Raposo, a blogger for [tp lang=”en” only=”y”]SimpliSafe Home Security Systems[/tp][tp not_in=”en”]SimpliSafe Home Security Systems[/tp]. When he’s not hiding from the NSA, he’s typically on the basketball court.