Here are five actions you can take now to greatly improve your chances of preventing and/or surviving an online attack.
1. Change your passwords, starting from your oldest ones!
You’re probably tired hearing this advice, but it’s important not to dismiss it! You don’t know if some passwords you’ve used are out there in hacker-land, ready to unlock some other account doors. You should change passwords on ALL accounts a few times a year. Be warned!
2. While you’re at, eliminate duplicates!
Passwords are a hacker’s “master key” to finding an opening into private consumer email and credit accounts, so don’t make it easy for them. Set a goal of not repeating any duplicate passwords or even “extremely similar” ones. And while you’re at it…replace any simple passwords you’re using, such as “abcd” and “password.”
3. Credit card transactions offer more protection if something happens.
This article is about the reality of today’s dangerous online world. Realistically, using a major credit card is the proper way to make most transactions, instead of gift cards, debit cards and other payment options. Credit cards come with built-in protection offered by the provider, which is what you need in today’s risk-filled Internet.
4. Stop. Look. Delete.
You need to limit the number of click-throughs you perform on emails and even text messages. This may be a hard habit to develop, but you need to move a touch slower when you check all your email accounts. Why? Because cyber-crooks are now using phishing and other social engineering tricks to get you to open emails, click on links and possibly even share some information, even if it’s someone’s name or email. Reduce the amount of email you get (where you can), and respond only when necessary.
5. Boost your network/computer defenses, starting NOW.
Remember that if you use a PC (and a Windows operating system), you’re more vulnerable to global hacking attempts. That’s simply a fact. Your best defense it to make sure you’re running the most updated versions of every program, starting with Windows. Go online and see if Microsoft has an update for the version you use. (You may want to consider getting a new computer and Windows 10, which has a solid, built-in defense.) Of course, make sure you’re running a good antivirus program and that you’ve installed its latest updates.
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