A Crash Course on Staying Safe Online

How to protect yourself from hackers and threats of online surveillance



Every day spent with a part of your life online is a day of running a security risk. This is not to cause alarm but to serve as a reminder. With things like social media, digital banking and online shopping, leaving it to a simple password means you are instantly vulnerable, which is why it’s wise to beef up security on your accounts and revisit your privacy settings regularly. 


Protect yourself from hackers and threats of online surveillance. Keep the tips ahead in mind.



Do not use the same password for multiple accounts.

This is almost a no-brainer, yet for the sake of easy memorization, it’s what we sometimes succumb to. Use unique passwords for each of your accounts, being sure that you aren’t just using a combination of the same key words and numbers each time. Strong passwords include at least one uppercase letter, a number and a symbol. They also don’t use obvious personal information such as your mother’s maiden name, your pet’s name, the name of the street you grew up on or your birthday.



Be careful about the apps you access when connected to public WiFi.

Free public WiFi can be a godsend but approach with caution. As security company Norton Cybersecurity puts it: “[it] is a hacker’s playground for stealing personal information.”


It’s better to play it safe and always assume that this open connection is unsecure. That way, you can spare yourself from a potential man-in-the-middle attack, where a hacker can get a hold of personal information by tapping into the network. When you are connected to public WiFi, do not log into your accounts that require you to key in your password such as your banking apps and social media.



RELATED: How To Manage Your Internet Connection More Conveniently


Set up two-factor authentication on your social media accounts.

This is an added layer of protection for users that takes only a few minutes to set up. With two-factor authentication or verification, users log on not only with their chosen password but with an additional security method: either a code is sent via SMS, through a phone call or a separate authentication app is used to generate the verification codes for you.



Limit sharing personal information on your personal social media accounts.

“What’s the point, then?” you might ask. Again, it’s better to err on the side of caution and hold back on any oversharing. Review your “About” tab or page to start: Is your complete birthday viewable to the public? Are your family members listed as family? Are you using your mother’s maiden name? Are your schools’ information available to the public? Any hacker can put two and two together and use your information to secure your accounts. 


Also consider the new type of overshare that’s highly discouraged: tagging your exact location when posting pictures in real time.



Review the third-party apps that have access to your social accounts

Have you thought about the third-party apps you linked to your Twitter? What about Facebook? This could be the fun quiz you took one time, a meme maker or a selfie-into-painting generator you tried out once but do remember that a one-time use of these apps doesn’t mean access to your profile and information are limited to that one point in time either. Revoke access to third-party applications and keep only the essentials connected; otherwise, all else can go. 



Secure your browsing with https://

The simple switch to HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) can make all the difference in browser security. It works to encrypt the HTTP processes and transfer of data. So should there be a hacker waiting to intercept your data, they are left only with random characters and cannot get ahold of your details.


“HTTPS prevents websites from having their information broadcast in a way that’s easily viewed by anyone snooping on the network,” shares Cloudflare. “When information is sent over regular HTTP, the information is broken into packets of data that can be easily ‘sniffed’ using free software. This makes communication over the an unsecure medium, such as public WiFi, highly vulnerable to interception. In fact, all communications that occur over HTTP occur in plain text, making them highly accessible to anyone with the correct tools and vulnerable to man-in the-middle attacks.”


Art Matthew Fetalver

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