11 steps to protect yourself against cyber crime

The world is transforming from a global village to a very large group of nosy roommates.

Cyber crime is a global epidemic.

Due to the inevitable cyber development, the world is slowly transforming from the intended global village to a very large group of roommates. From bank balances to indoor spying, technology now allows someone in a different continent to access data from your mobile phone, and even your camera.

It has become a necessity.

The recent ransomware attack that has affected hundreds of thousands including hospitals has left internet users on high alert. It’s not just image that is being affected. News of people losing money or being conned on the web is not new. Still, the number seems be increasing by the day.

So how do you protect yourself from cybercrime?

1. Don't store your card details on websites

Err on the side of caution when asked if you want to store your credit card details for future use. Mass data security breaches (where credit card details are stolen en masse) aren't common, but why take the risk? The extra 90 seconds it takes to key in your details each time is a small price to pay.

2. Use the two-step verification

In addition to entering your password, you are also asked to enter a verification code sent via SMS to your phone. So a person might crack your password, but without the unique and temporary verification code should not be able to access your account. It is your first line of defence.

3. Use different passwords for different accounts

Keeping a common password for all online accounts is like having the same key for all locks. Also never reuse your main email password. So either try and use clever variations or start doing some really heavy memory-enhancement exercise.

4. Lock down your FB account

Remove your home address, phone number, date of birth and any other information that could used to fake your identity. The more hackers know about you, the more convincing a phishing email they can spam you with. Change your privacy settings to "friends" from "friends to friends".

5.Use anti-virus software

Your techy friend may tell you that he doesn’t have anti-virus on his computer because it slows things down. But look at it this way, one wrong click and he may have to make the entire college project from scratch.

6. Don't click on unexpected attachments

Hackers infect PCs with malware by luring users to click on a link or open an attachment. Social media has helped criminals see what you're interested in or what you post about and send you crafted messages, inviting you to click on something. Don't do it.

7. Always have more than one email account

A separate account for your bank and other financial accounts, another for shopping and one for social networks is a good idea. If one account is hacked, you won't find everything compromised. A hacker who has cracked your main email password has the keys to your virtual kingdom. Passwords from the other sites you visit can be reset via your main email account. One can go through your emails and find a treasure trove of personal data: from banking to passport details, including your date of birth.

8. Only shop online on secure sites

Before entering your card details, always ensure that the locked padlock or unbroken key symbol is showing in your browser. Additionally, the beginning of the online retailer's internet address will change from "http" to "https" to indicate a connection is secure. Be wary of sites that change back to http once you've logged on.

9. Avoid the pop-ups

They may malicious software which can trick a user into verifying something. Always ignore pop-ups offering things like site surveys on ecommerce sites, as they are sometimes where the malcode is.

10.  Block social media invitations

Like Facebook or LinkedIn connection requests from people you don't know. It's the cyber equivalent of giving a stranger access to your bedroom.

11. Don't bank on public wi-fi

Avoid banking online using public internet. Most Wi-Fi hotspots do not encrypt information and once a piece of data leaves your device headed for a web destination, any 'packet sniffer' (a programme which can intercept data) can intercept your unencrypted data.


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