February 22, 2017
Every now and then, you hear news of security breaches and hacks that allow people to access information about you, particularly logins and passwords for important online accounts such as your email and your online banking accounts. Aside from these massive breaches, you will also hear about a few individuals getting their social media or email accounts accessed by others. How can you prevent this from happening to you?
There are a number of things that you can do to help increase the security and safety of your online accounts. Although it is not entirely possible for these to be 100% secure, doing some of these things will help make accessing your accounts more difficult, which in turn will discourage invaders from continuously trying to do so:
Create a difficult to guess password – this is something that we have tackled in a previous post, and is something you should always think about when creating new accounts or when changing old passwords. Difficult to guess passwords include symbols, upper and lowercase letters, symbols in the place of letters, and not using obvious details like birthdates and names.
Some people have resorted to using passphrases instead of passwords. These are usually a bit longer (as long as the system allows it) and consist of a few words and symbols.
Don’t log in to unsecure connections – yes, free WiFi in the mall can save you a few megabytes of data on your account, but is it worth risking your security for it? If you are accessing banking or email accounts outside of your home, and are using an open WiFi connection from a coffee shop or public place, use a VPN to ensure that your data is encrypted when you log-in. Or better yet, do not access these crucial accounts outside of your home unless totally necessary.
You should also ensure that your WiFi at home is password protected. Do not leave your connection open to the use of outsiders who might take advantage of not only the free internet connection that they can access, but also the data that they might be able to hack using such a connection.
Utilize security measures your apps and accounts have for you – Facebook, Gmail, and a lot of banking apps actually have a few safeguards in place for people who want to keep their accounts safe from being accessed by others. These usually come in a secondary verification system that utilizes your mobile phone, or even your landline, for added verification. There are even some apps that use the fingerprint scanner that you have on your smartphone to verify that is indeed you accessing your account.
This two-step verification procedures help stop people from accessing your accounts from devices that you have not authorized access to. For example, if someone logs into your account on another computer, you are either alerted by text or by an email of such a breach, and you can immediately lock the person out by changing your password immediately or by informing the system that it was not you through the clicking of the link they provide you.