The internet has completely shaped the way we communicate, do business, learn, shop, do research on different topics and entertain. Nowadays, technology has taken everything to the next level. We can access information from our smartphones with the same speed and power of most computers, which is a big breakthrough.
On the other hand, the use of it can also trigger some problems. One of them is identity theft. People often put too much information online, without considering the consequences. This issue is not something to joke about, as anyone can take advantage of anything that you put online. It could be a friend of yours, your boss or even someone belonging to a terrorist group. Using your own information against you can be easily done by someone with such a thought in his mind, and you are the only one who can put a stop to it.
Another problem is represented by viruses, which can infect your computer and damage all the information that you own.
However, there are a lot of things that you can do to protect your data, starting from the very first beginning: your password. It is important to know that setting a good combination of letters and numbers can diminish any future threats that might appear without you even knowing. Most people don’t take this too seriously and basically leave the door open for a lot of undesired events.
In this regard, SplashData released its annual list of the most popular passwords of the past year. They took more than 2 million passwords that got leaked last year and analyzed the most commonly used and those that were the least secure.
If your password is on this list, you should seriously take into consideration changing it:
You probably noticed that almost all websites suggest using passwords of a certain length and that include different types of characters. A lot of people don’t take that into consideration and choose simple combinations, such as those on the list above. This is the first mistake you can make. Try and create strong and complex combinations of capital letters, numbers and symbols in order to secure your account as much as you can. Also, do not reuse a password on another site or account.
Staying safe online implies other aspects, too. For example, you should use a VPN connection whether you’re on a corporate network or WiFi. Also, keep all applications up-to-date with the latest patches and use a less-targeted browser such as Chrome or Firefox.
Regarding free software, you should know that there is no free lunch. Free software comes with adware and other browser extensions installed behind your back. The advice here is to read carefully all the notes throughout the installation wizard and avoid installing apps from untrustworthy download portals.
Another thing that you should be careful with is the links found in emails, especially if you do not know the sender. Whether you are at home or at work, chances are that you’ll receive emails from time to time that are not quite what they seem. Cyber criminals often create convincing emails that appear to come from the Bank, a Credit Card Company and other popular websites that hold financial or other sensitive data. Contained within will be links to copycat sites under the bad guys’ control which will steal your personal data – and maybe your money too – if you visit them and enter your username and password.
We live in a digital age in which we can download just about anything we want to watch, listen to or use. While there are hundreds of legitimate sites from which content can be downloaded, there are thousands more that offer harmful content, filled with malware to steal your financial and other personal information. So, if you want to download the latest movie or song, think twice about where you are taking it from. Is the site well-known? Have any of your friends used the site without incident or unexpected surprises?
Another important solution is the use of antivirus software. Make sure you download it from a vendor that you trust and never run more than one AV tool on your PC at the same time. If you cannot afford to buy a license, there are plenty of free options for home users such as AVIRA, AVG, AVAST and Microsoft.
The online community, as safe and helpful as it can be, also comes with dangers that you need to protect yourself from. For example, have you noticed how ISIS used social media in order to recruit extremists and bolster their ranks? You can be sure that this kind of terrorist groups have their own ways of hacking into your computer and stealing your personal information, which is why you need to take serious measures and secure your data.
Have you ever been the victim of identity theft, credit scam or software piracy? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.