It’s that moment we all dread, the realization that your accounts have been hacked. Increasingly, personal bank, credit card and email accounts are being hacked and individuals are getting scammed. More than half of all consumers have experienced a cybercrime, with around one in three falling victim in the past year alone.1 It’s estimated that over 90% of cyberattacks start with an email.
There is an abundance of information available on ways to safeguard your data and your devices and it’s worth taking the time to do some due diligence. Below, we’ve provided a few steps you can take to start protecting yourself and your data.
Passwords – You know the drill, create complex passwords, and change them often. This is your first line of defense against hackers. When changing a password, make sure you’re on an official website, be sure to make a substantial change, not just one letter or number and don’t use common passwords like “password” or “1234”. Consider using a Password Manager app to store all your passwords securely and help you log in to sites automatically. And of course, don’t share your password.
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)– Adding multi-factor or two-factor authentication is one of the most effective ways to protect your online accounts. This can be a code generated by an app or sent via SMS after you enter your initial password to help prove it is really you who is logging in to your account. MFA can help protect your account even if your password is stolen.
Security Questions – A tip we recently came across for setting up security questions is to use an incorrect answer for each question. For example, for a question like “What was the make of your first car?” make the answer something like “Pizza”, or just use random letters and numbers. Be sure to write the answers down somewhere and keep them in a safe place in case you need them to recover your account.
Encryption – Using encryption software for your email, your messages and your files will help protect against surveillance and access to information. Encryption software is widely available and uses an algorithm to scramble or encrypt data so that only authorized parties can access and read the data making it that much more difficult for hackers to access your information.
Update Software – Software companies are always looking for new bugs and providing patches to fix them. That’s why it’s so crucial to download and update the latest app and version of whatever software you use. Making use of the option to download updates automatically will save you some time and trouble.
Recognize Phishing Emails – Take a minute before you click! It’s such a natural reaction to open email and click on attachments even when you don’t recognize the sender’s name. Even replying to a suspicious email lets the sender know that your email address is active. Fake emails from technical support, shipping companies, government agencies, financial institutions, and others, using look-alike domain names are used to entice you into opening an attachment or a link.
Recognize Phone Scammers – Beware of phone calls you receive from vendors or financial institutions claiming that there was an attempt to use your credit or that someone tried to access your account. They may ask for your Username or for you to verify your account number. Unless you know exactly who you are talking to, tell the caller you are busy and can’t talk right now. Hang up and immediately call the vendor or financial institution directly, at a known number, to find out if anything is amiss with your account. For credit cards, check the back of your card for a number.
Public Wi-Fi – Whenever possible, avoid using a free, public internet connection. Just because you need a password doesn’t mean your activity is encrypted. While it can be a convenient way to check emails or catch up on work, it does leave you vulnerable to joining a fake Wi-Fi hotspot or using a connection with outdated security software.
Prevention is your best defense when it comes to securing your accounts and personal information. Hackers target both businesses and individuals alike. By combining best practices, security tools, and diligence, you can help protect your accounts and your devices from unauthorized access.
- 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report Global Results