It is a conservative estimate that more than 60% of all internet users have experienced an attack or scam within the last 12 months. These attacks are getting more sophisticated and targeted every year, and the financial damage caused is astronomical, not to mention the damage to people’s privacy and mental well-being. For this reason, it’s very important to protect your information and data online with these easy steps.
Choose Stronger Passwords
The average person uses the same password for at least six different websites and nearly half admit that their family members would be able to guess them. What’s more, a new study that looked at the most common global passwords has highlighted that generic words like ‘password’ and ‘123456’ are commonly being used. Evidently, people are choosing convenient passwords that can be easily remembered but at the expense of their security. After all, hackers are able to easily find their way past such haphazard attempts to protect potentially valuable data online. What’s even more worrying is the fact that nearly half of those surveyed admitted to using their first and last name to create a password.
It’s perhaps no surprise that experts have advised us to create a password of 12-15 characters. Our passwords should also be random, made up of a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Random password generators can be very useful here and a password manager can help you to remember them. You should also try to use a different password for every platform and website, so that if someone does, unfortunately, guess it, their access will be limited.
Consumers lose more than $1 billion from internet scams every year, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to know exactly what to look out for. First and foremost, be wary of any emails and messages that come from, supposedly, official sources like a bank, and always check the sender’s address.
Don’t click on any links, or open any attachments, from senders you’re not familiar with, and also don’t send over any personal information. If you do receive any unusual communications from utility companies or your bank, it’s wise to get in touch with them via a helpline first before going any further. When surfing the web, look out for ‘https’ in the URL as the ‘s’ stands for secure. A small padlock on the page will also verify the organization’s security meaning it’s safe to do business with them.
Keep Your Connection Private
Public internet networks are great – they allow us to browse the web when we’re out and about and access the internet on the go. However, open and public networks can also be dangerous. They’re not always secure, making it very easy for hackers to get into them, which is why you should avoid using public networks for certain transactions.
Purchases and banking activities should typically be left to private networks at home. Plus, when you are at home ensuring that your wireless connection is protected with a password will stop the wrong people from accessing it – and potentially doing more harm than good.
The internet is there to be enjoyed, however, and you don’t need to fear it. Instead, make sure you’re choosing strong passwords, keep important transactions until you’re at home, and use a little bit of common sense when searching the web and dealing with new companies.