The digital technologies you interact with on a daily basis are exponentially more advanced than the hardware and software you were using just a couple years ago. I doubt I’m the only one who has unboxed a brand new iPhone just to find out that the brand brand new iPhone is set to be released next week. In short, digital devices and applications are rapidly evolving; unfortunately, hackers and internet scammers are adept at keeping on pace with these continuous updates. In this article, I’m going to provide you with some simple actions you can take to help ensure your digital data remains secure, specifically focusing on protecting your online accounts.
Over the past week, how many online accounts have you logged in to? There’s a good chance that number is too high to remember. There’s also a high probability that you’re using the same password for multiple accounts. Don’t.
Using a password manager like LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane, or Kaspersky Password Manager securely stores the passwords for all of your accounts, so you won’t need to write them down or attempt memorizing every single one. Additionally, most password management software can autogenerate complex passwords that are more resilient to hackers as many hackers attempt to gain access to your account via brute force attack.
Brute Force Attacks – Using software that runs through a seemingly infinite number of character combinations and lists of known or common passwords in order to determine your password and hack into your account.
Two-Step Verification, a.k.a. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-step verification provides your online accounts with an additional layer of security. Platforms including Gmail, Facebook, and countless others offer you the option to enable two-step verification on your account at no charge. Once enabled, after entering your username and password you’ll be prompted to enter a numerical code sent to your phone, email address, or a verification app like Authy or Google Authenticator. The small amount of time spent logging in using two-factor authentication is well worth it for peace of mind in the knowledge that your account is optimally fortified against breaches.
Beware of Email Scams and Phishing
This may sound obvious, but it’s easier than you think to give hackers access to your online accounts and data via email if you aren’t careful.
Phishing – When a hacker attempts to trick users into providing their password or other personal data via email, social media, or other means of communication
Phishing scams are usually done using email spoofing, emulating an email account you may know and trust. For example, hackers may spoof an Amazon.com email address and mimic a customer service representative. Many hackers target businesses, spoofing the email address of a manager and emailing the entire company in the hopes that at least one employee will fall for their ploy before the email is flagged as spam. Spoofed emails may also contain links and/or files that can potentially infect your computer network with malware, like ransomware. This is why it is extremely important to verify where your received emails are coming from; even if you have a spam filter, since spam filters cannot guarantee to catch 100% of malicious emails.