It's not that you are trying to be unsafe online, but it's easy to get careless while browsing the internet. You can log into your bank account online while using public WiFi and potentially reveal your password and username to a cybercriminal. Or maybe you use the same password on every financial website you visit on the internet to make your credit cards and bank accounts easier for hackers to access. You can even open an attachment in an email you believe was sent by your bank. If you do this, your computer will be flooded with malware.
Small things – like creating strong passwords, avoiding public WiFi, using a virtual private network, and being careful with what you download, open, and send – can help keep your personal finances safe.
Are you ready to step up your cybersecurity? Here's what you need to know.
3 areas to protect yourself online
Cyber security is an important issue. And those who fail to protect themselves risk disclosing their personal and financial information. So how do you protect yourself in different online situations? Here are the steps you can take depending on what you're doing on the internet.
Be careful with online banking
Online banking is convenient. You can check the balance of your accounts and credit cards, pay your bills and transfer funds – all from your computer or smartphone screen. But it's also risky. If cyber criminals get access to your bank or credit card accounts, they could use your money to make online purchases.
One of the biggest threats here is phishing. In this method, scammers create fake emails that appear legitimate. Never click a link in an unsolicited email, even if the email looks like it came from your bank or credit card company. Their goal is to get you to provide the information they need to access your online bank accounts.
When you receive an email from a bank or credit card company asking you to click a link to keep your account open, asking you to reply with your account login information or sensitive information such as Provide your social security number to check a recent charge, delete email. Authentic correspondence will never ask you to provide personal account information via email. If you are concerned that the threat might be legitimate, call the company's customer service number to speak to a representative.
And never use public WiFi to log into your online bank or credit accounts unless you are also using a VPN. Hackers can easily snoop around the public WiFi and get the information they need to access your online accounts. A virtual private network (VPN) gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public Internet connection. VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections to offer more privacy than even a secured WiFi hotspot.
Stay vigilant if you are working from home
You may spend more time working from home. Again, this can open you up to more common cybercrime.
Why? First, your home computer or other devices may not be as well protected as the devices in your office. Second, you might be tempted to leave your home office to work at your local coffee shop or public library. And that means you may have to rely on public WiFi more often.
Again, you should never use public WiFi to access your online financial accounts. Nor should you use it to access sensitive work-related materials. You could reveal all of this important information to cyber criminals who are spying on your activity. If you need to use public Wi-Fi, only use it for a harmless web search, e.g. For reading the news, checking the weather or reading restaurant reviews.
Make sure that all of the devices you use at home are updated with. are protected Antivirus software. And always approve updates to this software. Antivirus software is often updated specifically to protect machines from newly discovered viruses. It's smart to allow automatic updates to keep your home devices safe from these new threats.
It's also easy to get complacent when working from home. You may have more free time during the work day, hours that you may fill up with surfing websites. Be careful which websites you visit and what files you download. And when you install a new app, make sure to buy it from a reputable place like the App Store or Google Play.
Always be careful before downloading videos, pictures, or files from websites. Make sure you only download from known, legitimate websites. If you don't, you may accidentally download a file that is infected with malware.
Protect yourself while playing online
Do you spend a lot of time playing online? This is not uncommon as more people are working from home. But more online games mean more opportunities for cyber criminals.
For example, there is credential stuffing. In this attack, cyber criminals used password and username combinations that were stolen in a data breach and are now available for sale on the dark web. They then use automated software to enter these combinations into game sites like Steam.
If hackers can access your gaming account, they can steal your credit card information and other related personally identifiable information. Armed with this information, scammers can make fraudulent purchases on your credit cards or steal the weapons, armor, and upgrades you've earned while playing.
Other scammers could trick you into downloading what you think is a legitimate game. However, when you download the file, it infects your device with malicious code, allowing cyber criminals to spy on your keystrokes, take control of your devices, or spy on your private email messages.
One of the best ways to protect yourself? Only download games from legitimate game sources such as Steam, Origin, or GOG.com. And to protect against credential stuffing attacks, use multiple passwords in different locations. This way, if thieves discover one of your login and password combinations, they will not be able to access all of your game accounts. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your passwords are at least eight characters long and don't use a single word in any language. Hackers have dictionary-based systems to crack these types of passwords. Instead, use a three-word sentence, adding numbers and symbols for some letters.
After all, you should change your passwords regularly, which also makes life difficult for hackers and protects your finances.
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Steve Symanovich (1 posts)
Steve Symanovich is the editor-in-chief of NortonLifeLock, a cybersecurity company. He is a former business editor, writer, and columnist for newspapers, magazines, and fintech startups. He has run 34 marathons in seven years and his identity has been stolen once.