4.57 Billion – that’s the total amount of internet users for July 2020. Emailing, watching videos, shopping or surfing the net – there are so many things to do with an electronic device. The average user spends 2 hours and 24 minutes online daily. While internet is full of entertainment there are certain cons of the ‘connected world’. Every person who uses the web is vulnerable to different schemes and crimes such as credit card fraud, identity theft or phishing. Hackers can easily steal personal info, bank details and other important data.
But don’t panic. There are ways to protect yourself. In this article you will find 5 things you must do right now to secure your digital privacy.
How To Create Strong Passwords
Its true – 12345678 was the best password back in the days when Facebook was first launched. Just joking, it never was, yet it’s one of the most often used one, which is easy to guess even by your 5-year old child. Nowadays weak passcode can put you in great danger because this is the most common way for hackers to gain access to a computer. Mixing numbers, symbols, capital and lowercase letters may be difficult to remember but it is crucial for your protection. Each password must be strong and hard to guess otherwise it can be cracked easily by brute force attack. If you find it difficult to create and remember a strong password, check this article:
How To Be Smartly Protected With Unique New Passwords
Choosing a complex password is not enough when it comes to security. Login forms hide some risks as well. Another big mistake is allowing your web browser to save your password. An intruder can easily see it without leaving any traces. Even though saved logins seem convenient, you shouldn’t use them if you want to be secured online.
How To Secure Your Social Media Profiles
Everybody loves Social Media, right? It has become a big part of our lives. We spend hundreds of hours posting pictures, sharing interesting content or reacting to our friend’s memes. Scrolling up and down in Facebook and Instagram is exciting and watching funny cat videos in Youtube is addictive. But did you know that profiles are very sensitive and need privacy protection? The truth is that an unprotected profile can face fraud such as phishing requests, catfishing or even “photo of you” scam. There are plenty of different techniques that fraudsters use. In fact, they come up with more and more unique scam ideas every day. In order to stay away from social media harm, here are some tips for protecting your account:
- double check URLs before you login;
- check your privacy settings;
- don’t share personal information;
- manage what is publicly visible;
- change passwords often;
- be aware of various scams and phishing.
How To Use VPN For Public Wi-Fi
“Hooray, I found a Free Wi-Fi and I can finally surf the net.” – Hold on a second.
Hackers use Wi-Fi sniffing to steal data that passes on wireless networks. Whenever you visit Starbucks or the airport, you should never connect to a public Wi-Fi without encrypting your connection to a VPN (Virtual Private Network). What is this? It’s a service that gives you protection. It provides you with different IP address and encrypts your internet connection. It hides your data and personal information from everyone who tries to steal it – government, internet service providers and most importantly – hackers. VPN is very simple to set up and you can get it on your laptop, iOS or Android devices. Even though the service costs money and slows down your network speed, it is the most secured way to access the internet through public Wi-Fi.
How To Avoid Phishing Emails
“Email is so old-fashioned. I don’t even check my inbox. Nobody can fool me through email.” – If that sounds just like you, I suggest you put more attention in the next few lines.
People are underestimating the power of email and the dangers of online fraud. According to a study one in ten adults becomes a victim of phishing. There are so precise scams that you may not even realize how you lose $50 each month from your bank account.
You receive an email from a trusted company or bank that says “We noticed suspicious activity on your account”. This is called a spoofed email. Even though it looks trustworthy, the email’s purpose is to steal your personal information. The moment scammers gather your data they can access your email, bank account and other profiles. Here is a situation that happened to a friend of mine recently:
He received an email from PayPal that looked real – there was the original logo, legit email address and real phone numbers for contacts. He had no clue that it was a scam and clicked a button “Click Here To Verify”. It led him to a webpage that looked exactly the same as PayPal login page. The moment he tried logging in with his username and password, he gave full access of his profile to the criminals. Short after, he was deducted £120.56 pounds. He called PayPal to stop the transaction but it was too late. The payment was verified and sent.
There are few ways to understand if an email is phishing or not:
- it says “Dear Customer” instead of your real name;
- it says that there is a problem with your profile or suspicious activity;
- it wants you to confirm personal information;
- there are spelling mistakes;
- it redirects you to a webpage with strange URL;
If you receive a suspicious email, delete it immediately without downloading attachments or clicking any links.
How To Pay Safely While Shopping
Shopping online may be fast, easy and full of discounts but it hides its own risks. Bank details are extremely easy to steal. In fact, credit card fraud can put you in debt for years, even decades.
Internet is not secured at all when it comes to finance. The problem is that intruders can reach your card info not only by hacking your computer but also through data breaches. This is a security cyberattack that gains access to unauthorized information. The breaches usually damage both businesses and customers.
What are the criminals doing with our personal information? Well there are few options – steal money through credit card details, compromise identities and sell them in the dark web or blackmail the business for redemption. That’s why you should never fully trust an e-commerce with your bank card information.
Luckily Fintech companies have found a solution to this problem. iCard offers Virtual Cards for European customers. These cards don’t exist physically but you can pay for products or services in the web. You can load funds to your virtual cards manually in the app and freeze them whenever you want. The company gives you up to 20 of them. Whenever I want to order something, I just fund one of my virtual cards with the right amount for the order and use it as payment. Even if there is a data breach, the intruders will steal a non-existing debit card info if you delete it. This is how I prepare for hacker attacks.
How To Check If A Website Is Secured?
Now you know that Internet is dangerous but you still want to use it. No problem!
Just remember that you should only trust webpages that are following HTTPS protocol and have SSL Certificate. If that sounds unfamiliar to you, don’t worry.
Socket Layer or SSL is a security technology that protects the traffic between the visitor and website. How does it work? It encrypts all of the data that has been sent and collected in the website. This security prevents form sniffing sensitive information such as passwords or credit card data. Every business must own SSL certificate in order to be licensed and secured.
How can you check if a webpage has SSL? Check the navigation bar on top left of your browser. The URL must start with “https://”. If it has a small lock and it says “Secure” then you have nothing to worry about. Texts such as “Not Secured” or “Danger” are indicators for websites which are easy for hacker attacks and information sniffing. Also if you see “Login Not Secured” or even worse – “Payment Not Secured” leave this website immediately. Why? Because you are putting your private information in danger.
In order to prevent cyber fraud, review your browser’s safety tools and use them. They will control the access to your webcam and block pop-ups or unsafe flash content. Just go to the settings of the browser as follows:
- Safari: Preferences > Privacy;
- Chrome: Settings > Advanced > Privacy and security;
- Firefox: Options > Privacy & Security;
Internet is a dangerous place when it comes to fraud. You should be aware of scams and never fully trust a website. Take some measures in order to protect yourself in the net.
- Create strong and unbreakable passwords
- Secure Social Media Profiles
- Use VPN services
- Double check suspicious emails
- Pay with Virtual Cards
- Visit secured URLs