Protect yourself and your finances from hackers and malicious software with Technology blogger Frederique Bros’ essential tips for securing your online accounts.
I have been talking a lot lately on my blog Women Love Tech about online security and how to protect yourself from hackers. So I put together this list of the best ways to make sure you, your accounts, your cash and your information, is secure.
1. FORTIFY YOUR PASSWORDS
Password strength is vital to your front-line defense. Obviously your password should be a combination of letters and numbers, but don’t stop at the bare minimum. Use uppercase letters in random spots. Substitute numbers for letters. Mash multiple word phrases together. Deliberately misspell those words. Space them out. If you’re very worried about security, you can create a random string of characters…and of course, DO NOT USE THE SAME PASSWORD FOR EVERYTHING PARTICULARLY ONLINE BANKING!
2. ONLY USE HTTPS SITES IN PUBLIC SPACES
Many of the vital online services Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc., allow you to only connect to their servers via an HTTPS connection. This will encrypt any stream of data between you and the service.
3. NEVER PROVIDE REAL ANSWERS TO SECURITY QUESTIONS
Security questions are just a backup but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put the same thought into them as you password. It’s best not to provide real answers to security questions so that others who have this information can access your account. Use numbers instead of letters. Mash entire phrases together into one word. Deliberately misspell things. For example: What’s the name of your first pet? You should answer “sw3SwuTu”.
4. USE 2 STEP AUTHENTICATION
Facebook, Google and PayPal offer the option of 2-Step authentication when you login. This means you have to enter a secondary pin number which is generated and/or sent via SMS to your mobile phone. It’s a complete and utter pain in the ass whenever you’re logged out, but it’s also a pretty safe guarantee that no one will be getting into your account without a heavy-duty targeted attack. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT FOR YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT!
6. USE A PASSWORD MANAGER
How will I remember all those complicated passwords you ask? My advice to you is to invest in a password manager such as 1Password – believe me, it will become your new best friend online! Not only will it automatically enter your complex passwords for you, but should anything go awry, it will allow you to quickly know what accounts you need to change.
7. SET UP LOGIN NOTIFICATIONS
Facebook will allow you to receive a text message anytime an unrecognized IP address logs in to your account. You may not prevent a hack, but if you act quickly enough, you can remotely log them out and re-secure your account before they get their hands too deep into your business. Gmail is also set by default to alert you if it notices anything particularly strange with your login activity.
8. KEEP YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION OFFLINE
Having your credit card details sitting in a website’s database can make all the difference between a full bank account and an empty one.
9. DON’T SAVE PASSWORDS ON YOUR DEVICES
If you loose your mobile phone or laptop, the person who finds it can access your accounts if you have saved your passwords in applications and on websites you have bookmarked. The golden rule here is to change your passwords regularly and write them down in a small note book hidden where others can’t find it.
10. KEEP AN OFFLINE BACKUP
The cloud is great, but just like your personal hard disks are prone to failure, the cloud is prone to security breaches. All the latest operating systems have made it painfully easy to keep a current backup of all your files on your computer and mobile device, where hackers can access the data. So invest in a a durable external hard drive and back everything up at least once a week.
11. DON’T LINK YOUR ACCOUNTS
Linking your Twitter account to your accounts on Facebook, Klout, Hotmail etc makes things wonderfully convenient doesn’t it? But when one service gets hacked, you’ve just opened the flood gates for hackers to access all of your linked accounts. This won’t stop hackers from accessing your accounts, but it’s crucial for damage control.
About Frederique Bros
Frederique (Freddie) is the founder of Women Love Tech, where she blogs about all things technology related including computer, social media, apps and much more. An experienced Graphic Designer originally from France, Freddie is now settled in Sydney, Australia with her French Bulldog Oscar.