Technology is everywhere, and it can be very beneficial to your life, but there are also some things that you should be wary of on the internet. Staying safe online is really important, and it isn’t always easy to do. It’s been proven that as technology advances, we get lazier and this could end in problems. If you stop for a moment and think about how much you use your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer on a daily basis, it can be quite sobering. Cyber hackers are everywhere looking to steal your money and maybe even your identity. And if they are successful at accessing your information online, they can access any part of your life with ease. You need to put steps in place to ensure that you are safe online, protecting yourself is of the utmost importance, and there are several proven ways that you can do it! Follow this tips to protect your personal online reputation management image.
1. Ensure your software is up to date
No matter what operating system you have, always update your software when the company recommends that you do so. These updates are usually security patches that will help protect you as you are using that app. Turn on “auto update,” and your system will update automatically, so you will not need to do anything at all when the time comes. This step will help stop hackers from getting onto your computer and while this isn’t foolproof – it’s definitely going to help.
2. Get antivirus software
It’s ancient advice, but it is still one of the most effective and probably the best way to keep your sensitive information safe from hackers. Do your research because there are many different pieces of antivirus software out there, ask friends and family members for their advice about which company you should use. The better antivirus companies charge for their services, but it is more than worth it to keep your information secure and put your mind at rest!
Special Tip: Don’t get the free stuff, pay for good antivirus software with malware protection and make sure you update it.
3. Don’t click links before checking the URL
Sometimes you may question whether an email claiming to be from a specific website is authentic. Phishing emails are very prevalent today and often look almost the same as the actual companies email, but there are a couple of ways to double check. Hover over the URL provided and check out where the email is coming from.
Often scammers will send out emails which look very genuine but there will always be a slight discrepancy in the URL they provide compared to the actual URL of the official website. These are known as phishing scams, and they are becoming increasingly more convincing and are popping up much more frequently. Do not click on any links. Instead, call the company or contact them through a new email chain to make sure you are dealing with the known company and not a scammer.
4. Avoid giving your location away
Social media is a great platform, but it causes a lot of people to get targeted by hackers, without them even knowing it. Try and keep your private life private, and this includes not giving your location away online. Hackers are criminals and home invasion certainly falls into this category. If you let the world know that you are not at home, this gives individuals ample time to invade your property. You can still post about a great night out or a fantastic vacation, but do it in the past tense after you are safely home.
Special Tip: Turn off location service on your smartphone or computer.
5. Change up your password
You probably hold many accounts online, and it can be tempting to set the same password for everything. However, this is strenuously not recommended because it can have such severe consequences. You should change up your password at least several times a year and have many different passwords for different applications also. Software that helps you store passwords securely can help if you are worried you will forget them. In addition to having different passwords, you should also make sure they are not made up of personal information or easy to guess. Use both lower and upper case letters, and add in special characters and numbers in random places to make the passwords stronger and harder to imagine.
6. Check for HTTPS
Although similar to the previous point about checking URLs, checking for HTTPS is something different but equally important to ensure you are staying safe online. At the beginning of a URL you will either find HTTP or HTTPS. That extra S is really important because it stands for “secure”. More and more genuine websites are switching to HTTPS because it shows that they are trustworthy. It means that any data between you and the site is being encrypted, which means nobody else can get hold of it. If a website isn’t HTTPS, don’t trust it with any information that hackers could take advantage of.
7. Keep things backed up
If you keep important files on your device, it’s essential that you save them in other places. You can keep backups on a Google Drive or an External Hard Drive to help avoid falling victim to a ransomware attack. This is when a hacker steals all your files, demanding money for them to be returned back to you. In this instance, you can restore your computer and load everything again on your computer from one of the backups, rather than give in to the unethical hacker.
Many people think they are too smart for hackers to get them. You can hear them say things such as they’d NEVER fall for that scam. Unfortunately, there are hackers out there who are very intelligent, and their scams are getting way more convincing than what they used to be. Attacks can happen to anyone which is why it’s so important to stay on top of your cybersecurity at all times. Be vigilant online and use the steps above and hopefully your chances of being hacked will be lowered enormously.