The risk of cyberattacks and the need for more cybersecurity have been on everyone’s lips over the last few years – but far from most people have taken the necessary steps recommended to protect themselves. Since not doing so could have catastrophic consequences, taking extra precautions against cyberattacks is well worth your while.
But why do so many not see why securing their data is important? Their argumentation usually goes something like this: “What would they do with my data? I’ve got nothing to hide or nothing of value”. The problem with this reasoning is that it’s simply not true. You have yourself and your assets to protect, which is pretty valuable. If someone gets access to all your data, they can use your money or even steal your identity. Studies show that there has been a $52 billion loss affecting 42 million U.S. consumer victims in 2021 – and identity theft has been happening way more frequently due to the increase in online activity caused by the pandemic.
Luckily, there are many things you can do to keep yourself and your data safe. In this article, we’ll go through some of the most important ones – and we highly suggest you implement at least some of these tips in your life to stay safe from cyberattacks.
Avoiding scammers might seem like an obvious tip in avoiding cyberattacks. But unfortunately, way too many people are still falling for plots to rob them of their money and information. Scammers keep renewing their methods to get you to believe them, so it’s all about staying critical. Avoiding scams gets you one step closer to staying safe online.
One of the most popular scams is the advance-fee scam. These scams promise you winnings, a government grant, a new opportunity, or something similar that usually sounds too good to be true. The catch with these scams is that they take a small fee to get the winnings transferred, to confirm your identity, or similar false explanations. Make sure you’re critical if you’re ever asked to provide this kind of payment before you receive any goods.
IRS or government scams are also becoming increasingly common. These scammers usually call you up and pretend to be the IRS, saying you owe them money and threatening you with calling the police and other authorities. This could also be someone calling pretending to be police or another governmental institution asking for personal information. Whatever they say, don’t fall for these scams. If you’re in doubt, check your tax balance with the IRS or call the institution the callers say they’re from to make sure.
Unknown or unfamiliar links on web pages and emails are also one of the top ways to get scammed online. These emails usually also offer money or a price in the form of a gift. Never click on these links. Just delete the email and redirect any future emails from the sender to your spam folder.
Strong and unique passwords are easy to keep your devices and accounts safe. Passwords are the main barrier to protecting your device or account from cyberattacks, so they should be strong to keep intruders out. You’re not even safe if you have a standard password, such as a line of numbers or a row of letters on your keyboard. The same goes for passwords and PIN codes that are easy to guess. For instance, any password with your pet’s name followed by 123 or your birthday is really easy to guess, as this information is usually readily available to the rest of the world.
Many have easy-to-guess passwords simply because they don’t know how else to remember them. This is usually the same excuse you hear from people with one password for everything. However, you really shouldn’t be able to remember your passwords easily. Because if you can, others can too, and your account ends up being an easy target for scammers and hackers.
If you wish to update your passwords to strong and unique ones, use a great password generator to do so. Password generators will ensure you get completely random, secure, and strong passwords of a chosen length and with the characters you need. You can also find recommended password managers that are safe to use through passwordhero, which makes it easier for you to use the difficult-to-remember passwords generated. With tools like these, there’s no excuse not to keep your passwords strong and secure.
The last tip we’ll give you is to consider getting a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and they essentially provide you with an encrypted private network, protecting you from anyone wanting to steal your data. Your traffic online – both at home and when using public Wi-Fi or Internet access – will be encrypted and safe.
If you don’t have a VPN, anyone with an Internet connection can access your activity online. This can be a huge security risk since you could give away personal data like credit card information to strangers without actively doing anything.
VPNs can be found in many variations, both paid and free. Take the time to look up the most popular ones and compare them to your needs. Many will only need a free version, so staying safe might not cost you anything.
Don’t prioritize ease over privacy
Staying safe online should be a priority for anyone using the Internet – but many seem not to want to take the necessary measures. Alex Hernandez, who has lots of online knowledge about security and privacy, has written a great article on the matter. People generally tend to choose convenience and ease over privacy online. We, as consumers, often get blinded by the easy-to-use platforms and services that are provided to us, especially the free ones. These are, for instance, services such as Facebook, Gmail, and the iOS systems of Apple products.
While everything seems free at first glance, it’s important to remember that nothing in this world is. Instead of paying with money, we pay with our data. Big companies use this data to personally sell and advertise to each of us. We never really know what all our data is being used for.
There have been many cases of data being stolen from or sold by companies like Google and Facebook (now Meta), which puts consumers in a more risky situation since their data isn’t secure with the companies. Knowing this, you might think that this would have resulted in people closing their accounts and finding more safe alternatives – but that isn’t the case at all.
At this point, these services and platforms are just too easy and convenient to use to quit them, having efficiently eliminated almost all competition. For your own sake, though, you should at least try to limit the amount of data these companies have on you and implement some of the other tips we shared above. They could save you from losing money or having personal information (if not your entire identity) stolen in the future.
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