With technology now easily accessible to almost every part of the world, more and more people are using the internet. Even with security advancements, breaches continue to be on the rise, and hackers do not seem to discriminate on whom they attack. Sometimes cybercriminals have even attacked some of the big companies and organizations that use some of the most advanced security features and protocols. If these organizations and companies can fall victim to cyber-attacks even with their advanced security features, what is preventing hackers from getting access to your information? The answer to this is that you can at least use safe internet protocols to make it difficult for cybercriminals to get hold of your information.
One of these protocols is the use of unique and strong login credentials for your bank accounts, streaming services, social media accounts, and the sites you visit. It is highly recommended to only visit legit sites that use the latest security protocols. This is to ensure you do not give out your information to unscrupulous entities.
1. Ensure you use safe online banking
Online banking has made it easy for customers to perform transactions. However, since money is involved, cybercriminals have a higher incentive for hacking accounts. To ensure you are safe online, it is advisable to only use legit websites such as Comeon that have set up security features to ensure your online banking information is safe. Cybercriminals will usually use fake websites or malware to trick the user by giving them their login credentials and thus access to a user’s online banking wallet. It is thus important to review the online banking policies used by websites.
You should also avoid accessing your account in public places or public Wi-Fi since it provides an avenue for hackers to access your device. It is also highly advisable to periodically check your balance and carefully review emails you get from the bank on your details. If you suspect your account has been compromised, it is highly recommended you report the matter immediately to your bank and the website you are using. It is also highly advisable to mitigate threats on your mobile device such as keeping it updated and using devices that emphasize security.
2. Take advantage of a password manager
Some characteristics of a strong password are that it should be long, hard to guess, and should contain a combination of numbers, characters, and symbols. Since it is highly recommended to have strong and unique logins across your various accounts, it’s hard to remember them. However, a password manager such as BitWarden or 1Password can help you in coming up with and storing your strong and unique logins. You will still be required to memorize a master password to unlock your other logins. While you may find browsers such as Google Chrome come with their own free password managers, you may also want to consider premium services that come with added options and features.
3. It is OK to write your credentials
While technological advancements assist us in making creating and storing logins easy, not everyone is comfortable using them. Therefore, it is okay to put down your credentials on paper as long as you can keep them safe. However, it is not recommended to write your credentials on an electronic document, such as Google Spreadsheet or Word file, since they can easily be accessed on your online accounts or computer.
4. Constantly check if your passwords are safe
Even with the use of the latest and advanced security features, hackers are still accessing user data, either through breaches or malicious hacks. You check if your logins have been compromised by using services such as Have I Been Pwned, Google’s Password Checkup or Mozilla’s Firefox Monitor.
5. Create unique passwords
The key to creating a strong log-in is that it should be hard to guess. It is not unusual for some to use common words or combinations such as ‘the quick brown fox” or “qwerty,” among others. You should also refrain from using your birthday, anniversary, nickname, street name, name of our pet, or any information that may be retrieved from your social media accounts.
6. The longer the password, the better
Starting out with 8 characters or more is recommended when creating strong login details. It is further recommended to use a passphrase that comprises three to four random words to boost your security. However, it may be harder to remember these unconnected words, which is one of the reasons users are advised to consider looking at a password manager.
7. Avoid recycling passwords
If you are using login credentials across various accounts, it is easy for a hacker to gain access to your other accounts once they can access one. Therefore, it is highly advisable to use different login credentials across various accounts.
8. Avoid using stolen or exposed passwords
There are sometimes you may use a password that has been stolen or compromised without even knowing it. Visit Have I Been Pwned and enter the password you intend to use, to see if it has been compromised. This is because hackers may use automated login attempts to access accounts.
9. There is no need to reset your logins now and then
In the past, it was good practice to change passwords after every 60 to 90 days. This was because this time frame was considered how long hackers could crack a password. Changing login credentials periodically may result in a higher likelihood of users falling into bad habits, such as creating passwords that are easy to remember. It is thus highly recommended to change passwords when you suspect you have been hacked.
10. Try to avoid text message codes when using two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication requires users to offer additional information as a login credential. This means that even when a hacker has access to your password, they cannot log in without entering a verification code which can be accessed through your trusted device such as a smartphone. One way to get this verification code is by using a text message. However, a hacker may intercept these messages through unscrupulous ways such as SIM swap fraud. It is therefore recommended to use services such as Google Authenticator, Authy or Microsoft Authenticator to generate verification codes.
In conclusion, when visiting the internet, it is essential to ensure your information is secure. Since many sites require users to use a password, it is important to use ones that are strong and unique. With so many accounts to keep track of, it becomes a nightmare to remember these strong passwords. This is one reason why many users prefer using the same login credentials for their accounts. The downside to this is that when your data is compromised, weak passwords can cause serious consequences such as identity theft such as those reported in the 2023 hack of T-Mobile that left the data of over 50 million exposed. Therefore, it is thus more important to take advantage of the above best practices and rules of thumb to at least minimize the chances of your valuable data being leaked.