It is a strange era to live in. Right now, people share things online more than ever. Posting to social media accounts with the location left on, or photos of children with the school badges showing. Sharing can be, for the most part, a positive thing. It is a way to feel connected to others – or increase your exposure to get extra work online.
But, with all of that information available – for free, it isn’t a surprise that there are more hackers and unsavoury types working to gather as much information as possible. And they don’t have to work hard. Look at this basic list of what most people use daily:
- The Internet of Things (IoT)
- Social media (mainly Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram)
- Mobile computing
- Cloud usage
- Smartphones and tablets signed in to everything and then lost or stolen
- Websites created without WHOIS protection purchased, crippling internet anonymity in seconds
So, how do you, in a hyper-sharing world, remain connected but with more safety?
If you are filling in forms left, right and centre without really checking what people can do with those details, then that is the first thing that you need to take a look at. Companies love to collect data to use and store. So get wise on GDPR basics, and take care of what you are filling in. Some will plainly state they may give your details to third party companies – which could be anyone.
While free Wi-Fi can be a blessing, you might want to reconsider logging into your bank account, send those personal emails and other personal things. Here are a few ways in which Wi-Fi can be leveraged:
- Shoulder surfing, one that we might not even be aware of, is that people can see what we are typing and where if we aren’t careful.
- Fake Wi-Fi connections – If you see Starbuck Free or Starbucks Free Wi-Fi, the chances are you won’t give it a second thought. There is no guarantee you are going to connect to the right one, though. Fake Wi-Fi is known as the ‘Evil Twin’ technique. You’ll just be handing over a lot of juicy information.
- MITM – The man in the middle attack is when a third-party intercepts communication between you and the websites you are trying to access.
There are a few other ways too, but it won’t take long for you to find more online about how free Wi-Fi can be compromised.
The computer will alert you to not saving your details if it is a public computer, and many people still ignore this warning, making public computers a prime location for stealing information. This is why you should make sure to sign out of all your accounts before closing the browser or shutting down the computer. Using a two-step verification for your various accounts can also help keep them safe.
If you haven’t turned on two-step authentication, then you should head to each of your social media accounts and do so. Those extra layers of protection will mean that if your account is accessed by anyone else, you will get a notification and can take action. Be smarter about what you are sharing and when.
Things like sharing you are going on holiday, that you have left, and where you are gives people a lot of access to your whereabouts. Not only is that not good for your personal safety, but you are telling everyone your home is empty. You should also consider what you post about children and family members too.
If you have the same password for all of your logins, then that is a pretty bad idea. And, if you aren’t regularly changing your passwords, and leaving them the same – (and worse) on unused accounts, then now is the time to go and change them all. You can get great password managers that will create hard to guess/hack passwords.
Your computer will alert you to all of the updates that you can (and should) download. They will contain software updates and bug fixes. These will have a lot to do with the security of your machine. The same goes for your mobile phone and tablet.
Every year phishing scams get more sophisticated to the point that many people are no longer sure what is real and what is fake. If you get an email you aren’t sure about, never click the links. Instead, find the number for the company in question and give them a call to find out if they did, indeed, send you that urgent email requesting information from you.
If you want to take extra measures to protect your privacy, you can read more about the benefits of using a VPN here.