The internet has opened the world up to many possibilities that increase a sense of connection with others, make life easier and more convenient, and provide any information that we may be seeking at our fingertips. However, it has also opened up the doors for criminals to be able to access your personal information by installing malware and spyware on the very devices that you use daily and have come to love, but it is possible to stay ahead of the game and protect your devices from hackers by using some simple practices to be safe online.
Avoid clicking on unknown links
Hackers commonly gain access to personal information by the use of sending unsolicited emails and text messages with links. Once the link has been clicked on, malware and spyware are installed on your device with the purpose of stealing your personal information. Additionally, many apps and software that appear to be legitimate are actually look alike applications. Always do your research prior to downloading apps or installing software. Check to verify the number of downloads and read reviews before clicking install.
Avoid viewing personal accounts while using public computers or WIFI
When checking your online banking or MySocialSecurity account, do so using your home computer or smartphone data rather than utilizing public computers or WiFi. Make sure that you log out completely when you are finished and always try to avoid using networks that are unsecured whenever you use a public computer.
Use unique passwords and multiple step verification processes
When deciding on passwords, it’s safest to use unique passwords for each of your accounts and to create complicated passwords for all of your smart devices including TVs and appliances. If a hacker manages to get in through one device, he can possibly gain access to your entire network. Additionally, it is more difficult for hackers to break through channels that use multiple forms of verification in order to gain access.
Keep your software and antivirus up to date
Although many antivirus providers offer free versions of their software, paying for an antivirus subscription is well worth the investment. Always remain up to date on your payments with your antivirus subscription as even a brief lapse in coverage can open the virtual door to allow hackers in. Once a hacker has gained access to your device and/or accounts, it can be difficult to get rid of them in some cases depending upon the hacker’s level of expertise. Some antivirus providers may offer the option of additional identity protection coverage which may be something that’s worth considering. Keeping your apps and software up to date also helps to protect your devices as variations in malware are continuously being developed. Even if you are satisfied with the current versions of your apps, when you are notified about available updates, it is wise to go ahead and have them installed.
Take precautions with social media and email accounts
Not only do hackers go after your devices, it is also common for them to attempt to gain access to individual accounts such as email, Facebook, and Instagram in an effort to gain access to your personal information. Although it’s common to desire having thousands of friends and followers, accepting friend requests from people that you don’t know can be risky. Scammers also have a propensity to clone social media accounts, so while you may believe that you are messaging a close friend or relative, you could actually be conversating with an imposter. Don’t divulge too much information about yourself on social media, utilize strong passwords, and take advantage of the security precautions that are available through many social media apps such as certain posts only being accessible by people on your friends lists. Be extra cautious with social media accounts that allow anyone to follow you such as Twitter and Instagram. These types of apps often do allow the option of requiring people to submit a request prior to following you.
Smart devices offer increased convenience and provide a constant source of connection to the world around us. Most people nowadays would refuse to discontinue using their smartphones, laptops, and social media accounts regardless of the risks that are out there. Fortunately, the internet can continue to be an enjoyable resource that you can use safely in your everyday life if you are armed with the information to stay safe online and protect yourself from hackers.