Just as you lock your doors and windows to prevent thieves from entering your home, you should take steps to protect yourself online as well. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, more than half of American adults are concerned about their online privacy and security. And it’s no wonder—with hackers, cyberbullies, and other online threats constantly lurking around every corner, it’s not difficult to understand why people would be worried about their safety and security on the Internet.
However, when it comes to staying safe online, the main thing you need to know about security online is that if you don’t take steps to protect yourself, you’re putting yourself at risk. That means you could become the victim of an attack or crime and lose your money, your reputation or your peace of mind in the process. To help you protect yourself against these kinds of threats, here are eight cyber security tips you should follow as much as possible.
1) Stop Password Reuse
As dangerous as it is, many people have a single password for all their accounts, or at least very similar passwords. This is a recipe for disaster if any of your accounts are compromised; the thief only needs to access one account to see that same password on others, and all it takes is one hacker with a big enough bank of stolen passwords to get in.
To keep your passwords safe, follow these tips:
- Use different passwords on each account
- Never use words you’ve used before
- Avoid overly simple ones like 12345, pet names or other identifiable info
- Change your password regularly—at least every six months or so, and
- If you ever suspect an account has been hacked, change your password immediately
2) Avoid Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are among one of the most common ways that hackers steal information. These scams work by tricking you into visiting a website that looks legitimate, but instead steals your login credentials or other private information. To avoid phishing scams, take some time before entering any personal information online—even if it appears on a trusted website. Think about what types of websites you’re comfortable sharing information with and stick to them for as long as possible, and never re-enter sensitive info unless you’re absolutely sure that site is actually where it claims to be.
3) Do Not Click On Links From Unknown Senders
This is one of those pieces of advice you should take from time to time, regardless of how often you think it applies. It’s almost impossible to look at a strange text or email and not click—especially if you’re curious! But clicking links or attachments from people you don’t know can land you in trouble. The reality is that if someone asks for any of your personal information, whether it be passwords or social security numbers, they’re probably up to no good. Do not engage with them—block their number and delete texts/emails asking for sensitive info immediately.
4) Change Passwords Regularly
To stay safe online, experts recommend changing your passwords at least once every six months. Longer than that and hackers could have enough time to crack any passwords you haven’t changed recently, which is especially risky if you use a password across multiple accounts. So when it comes to passwords, less is more. Try using a password manager like LastPass that creates complex passwords for you, then stores them in an encrypted database so you only need to remember one master password.
5) Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor identification is a security measure that requires two different forms of identification (hence, two-factors) to gain access to a user’s account. This means that someone attempting to access your account will need not only your password but also some additional information from you—think an SMS code or a unique secret key—to get in. Set up two-factor authentication on all your accounts and you’ll be far more secure than most people are online.
6) Stay Away From Rogue Wi-Fi Networks
Public wi-fi is dangerous, especially when it comes to using your personal devices. Hackers can easily access unprotected public Wi-Fi networks and steal private information like passwords, credit card information and other sensitive data you may be transmitting. To avoid these risks and stay safe online, use a VPN whenever you are on an unsecured network (such as public wi-fi at a mall, store or an airport). A VPN creates a secure connection between your device and the server, preventing hackers from accessing your data.
7) Backup Your Data Regularly
While backups won’t necessarily prevent a problem online, backups of your data can help you get your system back on track if you’re hacked or a device is damaged. It can also help you prevent data loss in case something happens to valuable information.
8) Insure Yourself against Cyber Threats
In an age where cyber threats are getting more sophisticated by the day, it’s essential to be proactive in protecting yourself online. A cyber insurance policy can help you guard against potential online disasters, whether it’s hacking into your accounts or identity theft. And since most of us are novices when it comes to online safety and security, cyber insurance can take some of the guesswork out of keeping you safe online. Whether it covers identity theft, online personas or your own stored information, think of your cyber insurance policy as a proactive investment that will pay for itself in case something goes wrong.
Whatever your needs, risk tolerance or online lifestyle looks like, we at Penny Insurance are here to help you stay safe. If you’d like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.