It seems like every day, more and more people fall victim to cyber attacks and online security breach, and it’s not entirely their fault. Cyber attackers have managed to step up their game, and have formulated some pretty genius ways of getting their hands on sensitive information that they shouldn’t have. What makes matters worse, is it’s not just everyday people who are getting hit. Some of the world’s most influential and massive corporations have suffered through the likes of hacking.
Most places that you go, you’re going to hear people talk about how it’s just this day and age. Everything gets based off of technology, and nothing is completely secure, and they’re right. Nothing is ever completely safe, but there are many tips and tricks that you can take into consideration when you’re trying to limit your risk, and make sure that your social security number stays your number.
Lock Down and Protect Your Accounts
No matter where you go on the internet these days, you undoubtedly have to create an account to get full access. Most companies do that for innocent reasons. However, with the number of cyber attacks and leaks that have been happening all over the world, it’s paramount that you are keeping your accounts protected. When you’re coming up with a password for your account, don’t make it the same as all of your others. Make it hard to remember, include upper case, lower case, numbers, and special characters. Hackers have formulated tools that run through logical sequences of passwords, so why make it easy on them with a password that’s easily decipherable?
Monitor Your Permissions
The majority of the people in the world have a smartphone, and with a smartphone, comes apps. You wouldn’t be able to do much with one if they didn’t have any. However, like the phone, these apps are pretty smart. They have the capability of running in the background, refreshing your email, updating your location and even playing music. While the majority of this is done to make your life more convenient, what is it actually doing?
The permissions that you set on your apps are vital to be able to control how much freedom it has. For example, with full permissions, Google Maps can identify where you’re at in the world, your camera app can pick up on things in your photos, and your messengers are aware of all of your contacts. Generally, when you first install the app, you’re asked to approve of these permissions but what you might not know, is these permits aren’t needed to perform the primary function of your app.
To make sure that you’re protected against online security breach, ensure that you’re running periodic permission checks on your phone, and uninstalling the apps that you don’t need. Developers of apps don’t need access to your personal information to enhance the functionality of the tool that they’ve built, so don’t make it easier for them.
Erase the Browser History
Regardless of if you’re using an iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android, at some point, you’re going to use your web browser too. Just like with a computer, the web browser on your phone stores your history, and can even display marketing campaigns that get targeted towards your most recent searches. Having your history stored might seem convenient for you, especially on the off chances where you’ve forgotten to bookmark, but do you want that information to be readily accessible?
Even if you’re on your cell phone and not your laptop, all web browsers come with a function that enables you to delete your history. If you use it frequently enough, it’s recommended that you clear the cache and the history at least once a week. If you’re a moderate user, you should be deleting it once every month or two just to be on the safe side.
Public and Private Wi-Fi
When you’re sitting at home, browsing the internet and relaxing, the last thing that you want to do is think of someone else sneaking onto your connection. What you may not know, is that when strangers connect to your home Wi-Fi, it automatically becomes easier for them to get their hands on possibly damaging information. Wi-Fi intruders have the capability of viewing files that get stored locally, they can look through your browsing history, and if they’re experienced enough, they can even access any stored password that you have through a remote connection. Ensure that you’re protecting yourself with a difficult password, and by not giving it out. If needed, get yourself a second Wi-Fi that is created solely for your guests.
On the other hand, public networks can be just as dangerous. No one likes to use the data on their phones, and most people like to connect to the Wi-Fi on their laptops when they’re at a coffee shop, or elsewhere, but that’s not always a good idea. Public Wi-Fi connections are shared with many people, and not all of them are going to have good intentions. When you connect to this network, you have to put in some type of personal information and it’s not impossible that some people are going to have the skillset required to access what you’re doing on the public network. Ensure that your information is protected at all times.
Scan for Malware
Malware (ransomware, viruses, adware, etc.) is one of the most common forms of internet intrusions that can be found, and it’s also one of the most dangerous. Some start off on the smaller scale, such as Adware. The infection gets used as a way to track your web browsing, ultimately promoting ads that match your searches. While it may not seem malicious, it is.
On the other side of it, you have viruses which could cause your computer to crash by deleting pertinent folders, and files. It’s nearly impossible to cover every type of infection that can come from browsing the web because there are so many, but they are dangerous and are designed to destroy and obtain information that you don’t want to get out. What’s even more unnerving, is that these viruses and malware can travel from your computer and to your phone when you plug it in to sync or charge. There are many tools at your disposal for keeping your computer, and your cell phone free of harmful computer-ware that has no place being there. To ensure that your bases get covered, start with an anti-virus software that recognizes both viruses and malware. If you feel like it’s needed, consult with an information technology professional who can help you further.
No matter how familiar you think you are with computers, cell phones, and the internet, you’re always at potential risk. By ensuring that you take the measures needed to keep yourself safe, and making sure that you understand the most vulnerable areas of your device, you can keep you and your family’s information private. Allow yourself the freedom of doing what you want online, but remember that technology is becoming more advanced each day. If you aren’t focusing on the possible holes in your set-up, and in your passwords, you could end up having your personal information leaked to phishers, or other people you don’t want to have it.
What tips would you recommend for browsing the internet safely? Have you ever had an experience where your personal information got leaked? Leave a comment below.