With the increase in cyber hackers, phishing scams and credit card fraud, it's more important than ever to protect your valuable information online. While the task can seem overwhelming, there are several tips, tricks and products you can use to stay safe.
We've gathered some of the best tips to keep your information secure online, many of which can be as easy as just a few simple clicks.
Cyber security tip no. 1: Never reuse the same password
Online passwords are like your first line of defence when it comes to cyber security, which is why you should never use the same password more than once.
Cyber attacks can target websites and services with sub-par security. Once you have used a password on one of those sites, hackers can then try it on all your other accounts to see if they can gain access.
Cyber security tip no. 2: Use two-step verification and a password manager
Besides having different passwords for different sites and services, you'll also want to make sure that all of your accounts use two-step verification wherever possible. Two-step verification (such as a code that gets sent to you via email or text message each time you log in) lends an extra layer of protection if your data is breached somewhere online without your awareness.
If remembering multiple passwords is a challenge, it might be tempting to let your browser remember them for you. But according to experts this is a no-no. Instead, you'll want to invest in a password manager that specializes in the creation of complex passwords and keeping them safe.
Using a password manager like LastPass takes the guesswork out of trying to remember your passwords, and the effort of coming up with ones that are secure.
Cyber security tip no. 3: Use a secondary email address
For a lot of people, your primary email address is used everywhere online, including every site you sign up to or purchase you make. This makes your email a prime target for hackers, since it can also house key information to reset your passwords or check your bank account.
For added safety, try using a burner email for site logins — that way it isn’t connected to any crucial information or banking. If you want to know if your accounts have been involved in a security breach, there are dedicated websites that you can check to see if your information has been compromised.
Cyber security tip no. 4: Check your credit
You might check your credit card purchases, but people can also take out lines of credit in your name without your knowledge if they have enough of your information.
You can sign up for a credit monitoring service that will alert you to anything suspicious, but it’s also worth checking your credit score every now and then to make sure there's no suspicious activity.
Cyber security tip no. 5: Verify web addresses
When browsing the internet, it's important to pay attention to the little details, especially when making online purchases.
Websites that start with "https" (also known as hypertext transfer protocol secure) use a layer of encryption between the browser and server making it a bit more secure than sites that begin with "http." You can also easily identify these sites in your browser, since they often show a padlock icon next to the web address.
If you're still unsure about the security of any given website, click the padlock to see the security certificate. It should say “issued to” and match the name of the website you are on.
Cyber security tip no. 6: Delete or restrict cookies
Cookies can collect your personal information from things like auto-fill in forms. Plus, they can slow down your computer, so it’s worth deleting them every so often. Even better? Set your browser's preferences to stop websites from storing cookies at all.
Cyber security tip no. 7: Be aware of security questions
If you forget your password, some sites use security questions to allow you to login. Default questions like the name of your first dog might seem like the way to go, but if you are an oversharer online, public social media accounts could give cyberattackers exactly what they need to target you.
Instead, some experts recommend lying about the answer or making your own question that would be very hard to find the answer.
Bonus: Keep your cards secure in real life too
Even when you're not online, using an electronic wallet (such as the Apple Pay or Google Pay apps) for in store purchases is a great option to keep your information secure. Some smartphone apps generate a one-time use code, meaning it’s only good for a single purchase and you avoid the possibility of data theft by credit card skimmer.
But if you love holding a credit card in your hand and don’t love the idea of it being on your phone, it may be worth adding a physical layer of protection to your credit cards. RFID-blocking wallets can keep your accounts safe —particularly those cards that use an RFID chip like your credit card or driver's license. Although experts say RFID or (radio frequency identification) theft is rare, it might be worth adding an extra layer of protection for peace of mind.
So what are you waiting for? Start clearing your cache, update those passwords and get better at cyber security.