Even if you’re not wholly dependent on the internet for your day-to-day business like many Americans became accustomed to during the pandemic, there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you spend at least a little bit of time on the internet!
With the increased dependence on the internet caused by stay-at-home orders and other legislation that sent a lot of workers and students to the remote workspaces and classrooms, hackers also saw more opportunities to do their business, and they were quite successful. In 2020, hackers cost the global economy nearly $1 trillion, which is an unimaginable amount of money for the majority of people on the planet.
So even if you just occasionally check your email or social media, or read a few articles here and there, you are a target for hackers. And even if you don’t ever purchase anything online and make all your transactions in person, there is still a chance you can get breached and have some parts of your identity used for clandestine activities. Here are some ways to further protect yourself from cyber threats.
Not every computer comes standard with these! Be sure to check your antivirus software and update it as necessary. Small fees may apply, but it’s always worth it to make everything else on this list even more effective.
Set Password Alarms
Every month you should change your password, and some experts encourage even more frequent changes. The more complex the better, and most websites require difficult ones to create a login, anyway, so keeping a steady rotation of passwords for all of them serves a twofold purpose. In addition, you should also be sure to update passwords on your phone and any other devices that may be connected to your home network. Speaking of home networks, that is another password you should change frequently.
Spam emails are the junkmail of the internet, and though they can sometimes seem appealing, even opening the email can subject your network to fraudulent activities. Simply delete any emails that seem too good to be true because they probably are.
Avoid Public WIFI
Sometimes you’ll need it, and it exists for a reason, but generally speaking, public WIFI is a lot more vulnerable than home networks, because anyone can access it. If you do use public WIFI (including coffee shops and restaurants), be sure to log off and have your settings set so you don’t automatically connect.
Frequently Clear Browsing History
This is another thing that’s very easy but most people don’t do frequently. Clearing your browsing history can remove paths to places you may have shared financial data or personal information that could be the subject of cybercrime.
You can set your personal devices up to require two-factor identification any time you log on to a secure website or try to access an app on your phone that may be linked to monetary information. These are things like needed a password and also requiring the website to send you a temporary code to your phone or email in order to logon.
Hackers base their “word” on trends in vulnerability, and often new programs and services will have the most access points. Be extra careful before jumping on any trends that involve sharing any sort of information, and always use common sense. Online even more than in the real world, false offerings that seem incredible are probably just going to get you into trouble!