Online security is a huge concern for internet users. Although many email and social media platforms have made efforts to improve their authentication methods to prevent hackers from gaining access to unauthorised accounts, these may not be fail-proof.
Hackers are constantly finding loopholes to get around firewalls and penetrate digital systems which are vulnerable. This is why it is important to protect your gadgets and personal information. TOUCH Cyber Wellness shares some simple tips to help you protect yourself from hackers.
Use Strong and Unique Passwords:
Use strong and unique passwords that are different across all your accounts. People often use simple and common passwords such as birth dates or their names across multiple accounts for fear of forgetting their passwords. This increases the possibility of their gadgets and accounts getting hacked.
The Mnemonic technique is a great way to create strong and unique passwords which you can easily remember.
Steps to create password using the Mnemonic Technique:
- Create a password from a sentence or familiar phrase
- Use some letters of each word from the phraseExample:
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away: AAaDKtDA
Check and Update Privacy Settings:
Besides the discretion of personal information, changing the privacy settings of social networking accounts is the second line of defence against hackers. Choose the option that only allows your close friends to see your online posts. Occasionally, sites like Facebook will offer new privacy options for its users, so make sure to periodically check and update your privacy settings if necessary.
Block People that You Do Not Know:
Block or ignore unknown friend requests on social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn. These could be potential hackers trying to get information from your accounts.
Do Not Share Too Much Information:
Be careful with your personal details and avoid unnecessary sharing of information. Personal information such as full name, birthdays and contact details give hackers information to access your accounts, especially if you are using them as passwords or answers to security questions.
Do Not Click on Suspicious or Unexpected Links:
One way that hackers use to infect computers with malware is by sending their victims emails and luring them to click on a link or open an attachment. Such emails are known as “phishing emails”. Make an effort to download anti-virus programmes that filter phishing emails and always check that the emails you receive are sent by someone you know.
Similarly, hackers can disguise themselves and send out mass messages with weblinks on social networking sites in hopes of luring someone to click on them. Some links may lead to phishing websites that load malware onto computers and smartphones. Be careful of questionable content, and when in doubt, don’t click.
Do Not Keep Accounts Logged in:
Cultivate the habit of logging out of your accounts, especially if you use public computers in schools or libraries. Do not opt for the account to remember your login details. Other users may have access to your personal information if you do not log out.
Do not Store Your Credit Card Details on Websites:
Whenever you use a credit card to make purchases online, do not opt for the option of allowing the account to save card information. Mass data security breaches can still happen in these supposedly “secured websites”. Why take the risk when it only takes you a couple of minutes to retrieve your credit card and type in your details?
Do not Click on Irrelevant Pop-ups:
Pop-ups can contain malicious software that tricks users into downloading unwanted content or viruses. Always ignore them, especially if the “good stuff” they offer are too good to be true (e.g. getting a free car or cash).
Now that you are aware of the dos and don’ts of online security, re-evaluate your habits pertaining to personal information and passwords online. If you’ve noticed that you may be doing something which may compromise your online security and privacy, make the effort to rectify it immediately. You wouldn’t want anyone to steal your photos, money, or identity, would you?
TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TCW) is a pioneer and leading non-profit agency that champions cyber wellness and media literacy education in Singapore. Since 2001, TCW has reached more than 320 schools and one million youths, parents, educators and counsellors through its education, advocacy and intervention efforts.
Want to know more on the latest online trends that may be affecting your child? Need to speak with an expert on your child’s mobile device usage habits? Get in touch with TOUCH Cyber Wellness here!