We live in a dangerous digital world nowadays and the tendencies we see are quite alarming as well. For example, over 300k spammy programs are registered in the US only every day and the number is increasing over time. The new technologies allowing to steal information as easy as never before are evolving fast, thus it is vitally important to be aware of the latest trends to stay safe. An enormous amount of data leaks, Dark Net markets, helping people selling drugs, guns, making it easier to set up the human trafficking routes, the ubiquitous digital marketers and advertisers who are tracking and analyzing your every single step to sell you something, or even scam you. All of the mentioned above threats will make you lose your time, money or even lead to identity theft.
You might have the impression that there’s no real Internet safety anymore but with our easy tips, you will be able to have control over your data and keep the risk to a minimum. Let’s find out more!
1. Check privacy settings in your Social Media accounts
With the widespread of social media options like Facebook, Linkedin, TikTok and so on, we tend to store a lot of personal information nowadays – and in case you’re set up with the standard-setting option, there’s practically nothing hidden from the random stalkers over there. Modern social media allow you to keep certain privacy settings for different groups of users, for example, your friends, family or keep everything private to yourself. You must decide what can be shown or not, not some random Mark Zuckerberg. It is also a good idea to leave on Facebook’s two-factor authentification option to prevent hacking attempts.
- Do not store your personal data in public storagesThere are other spots for potential data breaches like Google Drive, Dropbox or iCloud. In case you lose your phone or laptop, hackers can easily access your sensitive data that is stored there and use your passwords and private photos, and use it for bad purposes. Never ever store personal data in such places, it’s better to use encrypted passwords managers like Dashlane or Keychain for MacOs.
- Protect yourself from the web scannersWith the help of cookies, website owners can track actions you perform on their resource and later on this information can become available for purchase for various marketing agencies that will set up professional targeted campaigns on you. There is no way to hide from that, apart from using specialized tools as Data Collection Protection from Kaspersky Cloud.
4. Do not give your primary email and phone number to everyoneAlways keep your email and phone number private. What will happen when those are once revealed? You’ll get tons of spammy emails and calls almost instantly. In case you’re often shopping or chatting on various forums online, it’s probably better to have a separate email address so you can remove it later on without regrets. Having an extra SIM card for confirmation purposes is another must-do point.People search sites like Nuwber.com allow you to find out how much of the information is available on various sites online. With an easy opt-out option on Onerep, you will be secured from the data breaches in the future.
Probably the best tool on the market to find out whether your email has been hacked is “Have I Been Pwned”. In case you got into their database, get rid of the email address that was affected, most likely you’ll be having hard times looking through the tons of spam later on.
5. Use instant messengers with end-to-end encryption
Most of the modern messengers use encryption. But in most cases messages are encrypted only during transmission to the server – and there they are already stored unencrypted. What happens if someone breaks into such server? Even if this risk is not too high, it is better to completely avoid using such apps. To chat safely, use messengers with end-to-end encryption. In such applications, even the app creators will not be able to dive into your conversation with someone, unless you pass the security key.
Even the most popular messengers like Viber, WhatsApp and Telegram do not have the end-to-end encryption on by default. For example, to turn this feature on Telegram, you would need to manually activate it in the app settings.
6. Use strong passwords
Information that is not protected at all or that is protected by a weak password is the information that can become available for everyone in seconds. Remembering long and complicated passwords is a true nightmare, thus you might give a try to such apps like Dashlane or Keychain, we already discussed them before. In this case, you would only need to remember only one combination. Easy-peasy!
Try to keep the length of the password to 12 symbols and more, this will decrease the chances to get your app or website access hacked drastically.
- Check mobile apps and browser extensions permissions
Pretty much every modern mobile app requires access to your contacts list, photos, microphone, location or all of that at once. Some of them will not be working correctly, or will not be working at all without granting those permissions. There’s a bright side, it is quite as easy to control over. Make sure what permissions are granted to the applications you install and always use official stores like Google Play or App Market. Wired created a great guide on how to control your apps on various mobile platforms.
- Protect your phone and computer with passwords or access codes
Your computer password should not be complicated, there’s no need to burn the midnight oil trying to remember the correct combination. The case with smartphones is completely different, these are often get lost or stolen, thus it’s vitally important to set up a secure PIN code even biometric password, like fingerprint scan or face recognition.
9. Turn off notifications on your lock screen
Even though you might have come through remembering 16-digit password and locked your phone with the face recognition option, it’s all practically useless in case you left your home screen notifications on. Everyone could basically see what messages or texts you’re getting and this information may get into the wrong hands.
- Use Public Wi-Fi networks with caution
Public Wi-Fi networks usually do not encrypt traffic which makes them a goldmine for all types of scammers and stalkers. This means that anyone can spy on what you send and receive by connecting to the same access point. Try not to transmit sensitive information via social networks: logins, passwords, credit card information and so on. In case you can’t avoid using free Wi-Fi at the airport or train station, use a secure VPN connection along.