Let’s call it the 11 commandments of online safety.
1. Never click on a link you did not expect to receive: The main way criminals infect PCs with malware is by luring users to click on a link or open an attachment. Don’t!
2. Never reuse your main email password:
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. A criminal can crawl through your emails and find a treasure of personal data including your banking details.
3. Use original anti-virus software:
Avoid cracked versions. It’s free yet unreliable.
4. Think before you post:
Once that information is out there, you don’t necessarily have control of how other people use it. If you can’t say it before that person, don’t tweet it.
5. 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 – just before the https.
6. Ignore pop-ups:
Pop-ups as most can contain malicious software which can trick a user into verifying something. If and when you do click on the it, note that a download will be performed in the background, which will install malware.
7. Be wary of public wifi:
Free! Free! Free! Sometimes the price of freebies becomes a burden. Most wifi hotspots do not encrypt information and once a piece of data leaves your device headed for a web destination, it is “in the clear”. That means any ‘packet sniffer’ (a program which can intercept data) or malicious individual who is sitting in a public destination with a piece of software that searches for data being transferred on a wifi network, can intercept your unencrypted data.
8. Run more than one email account:
Thinking about having one for your bank and other financial accounts, another for shopping and one for social networks. If one account is hacked, you won’t find everything compromised.
9. Macs are as vulnerable as PCs:
Let that sink. Your shiny new MacBook Air can be attacked too. It’s true that Macs used to be less of a target, but this is changing. Determined attackers are still able to find new ways to exploit users on almost any platform.”
10. 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?
11. Enable two-step verification:
If your email or cloud service offers it – Gmail, Dropbox, Apple and Facebook do – take the trouble to set this up. In addition to entering your password, you are also asked to enter a verification code sent via SMS to your phone. In the case of Gmail you only have to enter a fresh code every 30 days or when you log on from a different computer or device. So a hacker might crack your password, but without the unique and temporary verification code should not be able to access your account.
While much of the above prevents you being hacked, hacking done well is really the skill of tricking humans, not computers, by preying on their weakness. Human error is still the most likely reason why you’ll get hacked.