How To Improve Your Online Security : 10 Tips
“How we can improve our online security ?” This is the most asked question from amateur internet user to security experts. As we know, that there is nothing actually safe on the Internet, no matter what software and security measures we use. Hackers, malware, viruses, spyware are continuously threatening and breaching security. As a measure we can use the following tips to ensure maximum possible online security.
1. Using Software
The most important habit for good online security is to use strong security software. Good security software stops most attacks before they can even start, but great security software goes beyond that with other features that keep you safe. Of course, while great security software will protect you against most threats, there are still some things you can do to help out.
2. Click After You Investigate
One of the biggest threats out there is phishing scams. These are deceptive emails and text messages that trick you into clicking on a link to a malicious site or downloading malicious attachments.
There are many phishing scam tactics, but they all rely on you clicking before you have a chance to really think things through. A phishing scam might say there’s a problem with your Amazon account and you need to click fast to clear it up. Or maybe it says you can win a free iPad if you sign up immediately. Taking a second to think is usually enough time to unravel the scam. You might notice a fishy email address or horrible spelling and grammar, or just remember our advice to never click on links in unsolicited emails.
That’s why you should make a habit of waiting a second or two before clicking any link. Use that second to confirm that nothing is out of the ordinary. And if you click the link and are presented with something else to click, take another second to really look at that as well.
3. Using Safe Account
Pausing before clicking isn’t just for phishing emails either. If you’re using a standard account in Windows, it will ask for permission before installing any program. You might get in the habit of just clicking “OK” to get rid of the message, but pause and make sure you know what it’s trying to install. Otherwise, you might agree to install a virus or other malicious download, without realizing it.
That’s with a standard account, though. Many people have the habit of using whatever account their computer has set up when they get it. Often this is an administrator account. While using an administrator account is convenient (i.e. fewer pop-ups asking for permission to do things), it’s also much less safe.
With an administrator account, malicious programs can install or change settings without your permission. In fact, studies show that switching to a standard account can cut your risk from online threats by 86 percent.
4. Create Strong Passwords And Security Questions
Securing your online accounts is just as important as securing your Windows account. The first step is to have a strong password and security question.
When you’re creating an online account, you might be in the habit of rushing to get through the process so you can start using the site. That’s why many people use weak passwords like “password” or “123456,” or reuse passwords from other accounts.
Both of these make you unsafe. Hackers can get through an easy password in minutes. If you reuse passwords and they get your password in a data breach then they can get into all your accounts without a problem.
That’s why you need to get into the habit of creating unique, complex passwords. These take more time to create, but they keep your information safe. Of course, you also need a good way to remember them.We recommend using a password manager. This can store all your passwords behind a single master password. That way you can have dozens of complex passwords and only have to remember one. Most password managers can also help you create strong passwords.
When you’re setting up your online accounts, you also shouldn’t rush past the security questions. Most security questions ask for common information that a hacker or snoop can guess if they do a bit of research or know you. That’s why you need to create answers that no one can guess.
5. Turn On 2FA
Whenever you create an account on a new website, or every few months when you visit an old website, you should get in the habit of taking a few minutes to look through the account settings. You can often find additional security features to turn on, such as two-factor authentication, that will make you safer. Two-factor authentication means that if a hacker gets your password, they still won’t be able to log in to your account without access to your phone.
6. Be Skeptical
This is the single most important behavioral change you can make. Scammers rely on our natural instinct to trust other human beings. In general, we believe what people say until they’ve been proven false. But by that time, a scam may have run its course. Social engineering attacks rely on exactly this kind of good-faith trust. And to a certain extent, it’s necessary for society to function properly. But a heavy dose of caution and skepticism can end many scams.Double check suspicious information with the supposed source of that information. Make sure to use a phone number listed on the company’s official website, not the email signature, which may be false. Be especially wary of unusual communications requiring immediate resolution. This goes double for situations involving your bank, PayPal account and other financial holdings.
7. Is It Too Good To Be True?
Always question whether a deal is too good to be true. An unbelievable deal often doesn’t actually exist. Many scammers rely on people’s natural greed to get access to money and credentials. Whether it’s financial scams that promise an outrageous return or Amazon listings for way below the market price, scammers often entice us with an unbelievably good deal. The same works on a smaller scale, with websites and downloads. Attackers can often sneak malicious software on to your computer by using websites that promise something like free movies or tech products. Be wary of the programs you download and install and the websites you visit.
8. Double Check Information
Most email-based scams rely on users casually opening email and following the instructions found therein. While many folks have been educated about the risks of these phishing attacks, they’ve also become more sophisticated. It requires a keen eye to spot a fraudulent email message by sight. Few folks are even looking that closely. But if you think critically about what the email is asking you to do, you can often avoid scams.
For example, are you being asked to log in to your Google or PayPal account immediately? If so, don’t follow any links in the email. Visit the website by typing the domain in to your browser and logging in that way. If you’re uncertain about the origin or legitimacy of an unexpected email, communicate with the sender to confirm its authenticity.
9. Question Seemingly “Urgent” Decisions
Be wary of anyone trying to convince you to take a specific course of action without thinking it over. In a distressingly common Western Union scam, scammers call individuals and imitate the IRS. You owe major back taxes, they say. And to make matters worse, the police are on the way to arrest you right now. But if you pay your back taxes by wire transfer immediately, they won’t let you get arrested.
Of course, this is not at all how tax fraud prosecution works. The scam is so common that wire transfer companies like Western Union are on the lookout for it. But in the grip of fear and uncertainty, and faced with an apparent authority figure, many people have insisted that Western Union send the money, even after being assured that it’s a scam and that the IRS will not arrest them.
10. Confirm Identity When Possible
Many scammers are successful because they pose as authority figures or loved ones. Humans are simply less likely to question apparent authorities or those they already trust. Scammers have been known to pose as utility workers and government officials. From this apparent position of power, they’re able to convince their victims to do things they otherwise might not.
Some scams also manipulate the elderly by imitating their children or grandchildren. Using a fake Facebook account, the scammers contact the grandparents, claiming that their relative is trapped in a foreign country and needs money to gain their freedom. A phone call to the grandchild or their parents will often reveal this scam, but it’s still successful frequently enough to make it worth their while to try it. As we’ve mentioned already, make sure to confirm identities and apparent authorities through separate channels than those provided by the potential scammers.
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