5 ways you can help yourself stay secure online
Authored by a Symantec employee
When you’re using the Internet, your Internet security suite can only go so far to protect you from potential dangers like spyware, ransomware and malware. You have to do some of the work yourself, because there are some threats that no Internet security suite can protect you against.
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Social engineering is a good example of this. Social engineering is a technique that cybercriminals use, which involves human-to-human interaction in order to get the user to divulge information. Based on exploiting human nature and emotional reactions, there are many ways that attackers can try to trick you- online and offline. Here are the top five things you can do to keep yourself safe from these kinds of attacks and more.
Don’t Open Mail From Strangers
Using scare tactics seems to be the most popular amongst cybercriminals, as it presents the user with an urgent scenario, usually involving a banking or another online account. It gives the user the feeling that they need to act urgently, therefore making decisions based on poor impulse control. When you get junk mail in the real world, the chance of it burning down your house is zero. However, if you get a phishing email with malware attached, you don’t even have to download the attachment for it to do damage to your home network. That’s because drive-by downloads can install malware on your hard drive without you even agreeing to download. In some cases, a drive-by download might disguise itself as a standard system update or another innocuous “yes / no” question. The bottom line is, don’t open email from people you don’t know.
Use Strong Passwords and Change Them Frequently
Every year, it’s revealed that an astonishing number of people are still using passwords like “12345678” or “password.” Don’t use those, but also don’t use your dog’s name or your kids’ birthdays. The best password is one that you can remember, but one that will be hard for other people, even brute force programs that try literally every combination under the sun, to guess. An abbreviated sentence is often better than a single word with numbers and symbols inserted. Or you can use a password management app to generate and store your passwords for you.
Don’t Click on Strange-Looking Links
Viruses and other forms of malware often spread because you click on a link from someone you know. But why is someone you know sending you the strangest looking link you’ve ever seen in your life? This is a highly subjective area, but you can always send back an email or send off a text message to ask if the link you’ve been sent was sent on purpose, or if your friend or family member has become the victim of a hacking attack. You might have to wait a few minutes to watch that funny viral video, but better safe than sorry.
Back up Your Data Regularly
If in the unfortunate event you become a victim of malware, such as ransomware, you might not be able to get your data back. Not unless you’ve backed up your data. When you back up your data, you can make certain kinds of security breaches far less problematic. If a hacker encrypts your data and demands a ransom to unencrypt it, that’s not going to be that big of a deal if you backed it up a week ago.
Educate Your Family
Your home security network is only as strong as its weakest link. You can be taking all the precautions in the world. But if your family and other people using your network aren’t doing their part to keep everything secure, none of that is going to matter. Make sure that everyone who regularly uses your network is up to speed on how to keep it secure.
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