Since the Snowden saga, everyone and their brother is now paranoid about government snooping and the privacy of their data and devices. There are discussions around how the big tech companies are misusing our data and how the government has access to all our social media information and chat history. We however, need to remember that the worst of the bad guys (at least for regular internet users) are not the government or social media companies at all. The more dangerous security and privacy threats are still regular hackers who are out to steal our data and use them for nefarious purposes.
Staying safe on the Internet is not easy. If you are not careful, you could already be unwittingly inviting hackers into your home and your computer. This article provides some tips to keep the online criminals at bay.
We have been hearing about many huge security breaches these days and many companies have been falling victim. Individuals are not left out. It is important that we take proactive steps to protect our identity and data. No matter what you’re doing online – surfing the web, doing internet banking, or shopping online – you should take necessary steps now to save yourself from hassle and save your time and money too.
The most common privacy breaches like identity theft and credit card fraud are usually not as a result of government snooping or the NSA having a backdoor to our social media accounts. They are usually perpetrated by hackers who are able to get our information as a result of negligence on the part of the victims.
There are many common security related mistakes people make online. If you have been making any of the mistakes below, you should consider fixing things or changing your online habits immediately.
Weak passwords are probably the most common reason accounts get hacked. A number of different elements make up a good password, including numbers and special characters, upper and lowercase letters, and minimum length requirements. Even if a website does not enforce strong passwords, you should make the use of strong passwords a habit.
If you’re interested in the technical details of why this is important and how hackers target weak password, read my detailed article on: Password Hashing, Salting, And Peppering.
Same Password Everywhere
If you use the same password across multiple accounts, a hacker only needs to hack one of your accounts and all your accounts would be automatically compromised. Isn’t this one a no-brainer? However, you’d be surprised at the number of people who still do this. Don’t be one of them!
Public Wi-Fi Hotspots
We all love public WiFi hotspots. However, public WiFi could be very deceptive and vulnerable to attack. You should never send sensitive data over a public WiFi network. To find out how the bad guys can steal your data on a public Wi-Fi network, check out my popular article on the topic: Beware of Public WiFi – 3 Dangers and How to Avoid Them
Online Shopping Via HTTP Instead Of HTTPS
You should never buy over HTTP. Any website where you enter credit card information should be protected with transport layer security. Such websites use the HTTPS protocol instead of HTTP. HTTPS encrypts the data being sent so that it is not susceptible to Man-In-The-Middle attacks.
RELATED READING: Does Privacy Still Exist?
“Weak” Security Questions
Security questions can provide your accounts additional security and are often used when you forget your password or by hackers to take control of your accounts. It is however quite easy to inadvertently disclose them.
For example, if you use the name of your high school mascot as your security question on Facebook, then you shouldn’t also list your high school on Facebook since that will put your account at risk of hacking.
The steps described here are things you need to do at a minimum in order to stop inviting hackers into your home. To stay safe online, you need to take proactive action and keep yourself up to date with the methods hackers use.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Here are some other security related articles I have written.