As the world becomes more technologically advanced, so do the methods that people use to commit crime. Where you only used to have the real world to worry about, you now have to learn how to protect yourself from cybercrimes. These include identity theft, financial fraud, cyberstalking and bullying, hacking, and even intellectual property crime.
While it’s impossible to completely eradicate cybercrime, there are simple ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Here are some tips.
Be More Careful in Social Media
FOMO or the fear of missing out might tempt you to overshare on social media, but over-sharing can also make you a target of cybercrimes. Be mindful of the information you provide on your profile and the posts that you share; all of these details can be used for cybercrime, especially fraud. Ideally, you should also keep your privacy settings at the highest available option. If you really need to have a public social media presence, create a separate, more private account that only your friends and family know.
If you’re being extorted or bullied, or if you feel that you are being stalked, don’t immediately confront the person or persons. Secure your accounts and talk to the authorities immediately to prevent the situation from escalating. You might also consider getting help from a private investigator not only to gather evidence of wrongdoings, but also to be forewarned about the actions of the person/s of concern.
Keep a Clean Machine
Many cybercrimes start with malware, which is short for malicious software. These are intended for secretly accessing computers without the owner’s knowledge or consent. Malware includes viruses, rootkits, keyloggers, and Trojans that can be used to monitor your online activity. These malwares can also be used to damage your hardware, corrupt software, and even steal your files. Most of all, malware can also spread quickly and infect an entire network of machines.
Installing antivirus software is one of the surest ways to prevent malware from infecting your computer. You should also regularly perform computer scans, as well as update your web browsers and operating system. Pop-up and ad blockers are also valuable tools, because the links in these ads are notorious sources of malware.
It’s also a safe practice to keep multiple backups of your files just in case your computer crashes. You might even consider storing important and sensitive data in a computer that’s not connected to the Internet to lessen the possibility of online attacks. Furthermore, if you can avoid it, don’t use public WiFi connections as these unprotected networks can expose your device to potential hackers. Personal business like banking should also be done on a secure connection, using your own devices.
Use Strong Passwords
Apart from regularly changing the passwords to ALL your online accounts, you should also opt for two-step verification whenever possible to thwart hackers. While this may not be a 100% guarantee – more crafty hackers might find a way to get the one-time code sent to your phone or email – two-step verification makes hacking a little more difficult.
Finally, and digital security experts can’t stress this enough, don’t use obvious passwords like “password” or “123456”. Personal information like your children’s names, your birthday, or anniversary aren’t ideal candidates for a password, as well. Try a combination of random words and develop a personal mnemonic so you can easily remember your passwords.
Preventing cybercrime has a lot to do with your actions – being more discerning and logical means you’re less likely to become a victim. Focus on what you can do to protect yourself and your computer, and you’ll start developing safer habits when accessing the web and your online accounts.