Cybercrime may sound all futuristic and the work of mysterious hackers shrouded in darkness and wearing hoodies, but it’s more prevalent than you think.
The old trope of victims of cybercrime and hackers being government agencies or billion-dollar corporations with a military invention that could change the tide of warfare is outdated. Here’s the truth – anyone can be a victim of cybercrime, even you.
Data is more valuable than ever today. And no, not just the data of big data companies or healthcare facilities, but your data is valuable, too.
In the wrong hands, your data, including your sensitive personal information – like your Social Security Number – can be sold on the dark web for a large sum of money.
While cybercriminals can make massive amounts of money from selling personal data via covert channels, the consequences of having your personal information stolen can be disastrous.
The fallout of identity fraud can be life-altering – in a negative way. The problem with identity fraud, or identity theft, is that you don’t know if you’re a victim of cybercrime until it happens.
It’s why identity theft protection services like Norton LifeLock can only help you with the fallout of identity theft, but can’t protect you from becoming a victim.
Knowing some of the risks of being a victim of cybercrime, you’d want to read on to learn 11 ways to help protect yourself against cybercrime.
1. Use Strong Passwords
This has been drilled into our heads on every site that we create an account on. You’d think we don’t have to say it again but, unfortunately, there are many people who still use their birthdates, loved ones, and pets’ names as their passwords.
It may be easy to remember, but stronger passwords (as often prescribed) are much more difficult for hackers to decrypt. Make sure to use different passwords for different accounts, too.
If one of your accounts is hacked, cybercriminals will often try the same password on other accounts linked to your email address.
If you’re having trouble keeping track of your numerous passwords, a password manager is the best, most secure route forward.
2. Up Your Social Media Privacy Settings
Social media is a great way for cybercriminals of various kinds to find out as much about you as possible.
For example, we’ve all stalked a friend of a friend who we haven’t already met yet, while we’ve been able to see everything they’re getting up for years now. It almost feels like you know them.
Cybercriminals can harvest information that way, too, finding out a lot about you. They’d be able to learn information that you wouldn’t think is possible, gaining access to your various accounts or learning about your private life from your social media profiles.
Make a point of turning your privacy settings all the way up so that only your friends can see your post. Also, only allow people you know to follow your social media profiles.
3. Update Your Software
For many of us, software updates are annoying and seem to pop up at inopportune times. Even so, ensure that you perform software updates on all your devices – laptops, desktops, mobile phones, and tablets – as soon as you can.
Software updates come with security patches to help keep your devices secure from the latest threats that developers have picked up on.
4. Use a Full-service Internet Suite
If you don’t have antivirus software programs running on your devices by now, you really should look into that.
However, antivirus and antimalware programs need to be well-rounded, holistic programs that keep not just your device safe, but also your digital life and personal data.
Full-service security suites help to protect you against malware, ransomware, and viruses but also help to safeguard your private information while you’re online.
5. Know Who You’re Dealing with Online
Phishing and catfishing scams are a very real threat online costing people the loss of considerable amounts of money, time, and dignity.
Staying educated on online phishing scams and keeping your personal information to yourself online can help you to protect yourself.
However, knowing exactly who you’re dealing with online to keep yourself safe is equally important. Look them up on Nuwber to know more about the individual on the other end of the line.
6. Teach Your Kids about the Internet
Don’t ban technology, but keep your kids aware of how to use the internet responsibly and respectfully. Teaching them good internet practice can keep your family safer against cyber threats.
7. Use a VPN
This is especially true when using public WiFi since those networks are accessible to anyone. Using a VPN helps to mask your IP address and keep your browsing anonymous.
8. Keep Away from Pop-Ups
Pop-up windows and advertisements can be highly annoying but also dangerous. If a pop-up asks you to enter a username and password, don’t comply.
Rather, open your browser and visit the site directly if need be.
9. Stay Away from Dodgy Sites
Think of it as staying away from seedy neighborhoods. Websites and apps that offer access to hacker chat rooms, adult content, and the like, are much like seedy neighborhoods.
Staying away from places like this on the internet will keep you away from some of the more questionable internet users. And yes, cybercriminals can tell who’s on a particular site at a given time.
10. Go Offline If You Don’t Need to Be Connected
It’s become common practice to stay connected to the net at all times, even when our devices are not in use. This doesn’t mean that it’s a good or safe practice.
11. Log Off When You’re AFK
If you’re not using your computer or other devices, log off or lock them to ensure that no one else will have access to all your information.