Online threats are steadily on the rise, with an increasing frequency of attackers targeting user data and money by pretending to offer resolutions to blocked bank accounts, followers on social media and a variety of other lures. In such times, it is increasingly important for everyone to have a sound understanding of the basics of cyber-security, to ensure that they do not fall into a trap and end up losing money, data, access to devices, and in the worst-case scenarios, all of the above. However, worry not. Here are a few quick and essential steps that you must follow in order to keep yourself safe online.
Verify a link before clicking
The first and foremost step is to ensure that you verify a link before clicking on it. If you receive an abrupt message that is disguised as a bill payment reminder or one that tells you that your account is blocked and you need to click on the attached link to reclaim your services, do not click on them. It is best to ignore such messages and check the information for yourself through verified pages. These links often contain malware that automatically downloads on your device to carry out a variety of tasks, such as holding the device for ransom, financial data theft and more.
Never share your passwords anywhere
No matter what you do, never share your passwords online on unverified websites or phone calls. Always remember that no official company agent will ever call you to ask for details such as a video conference meeting ID, debit card CVV or one-time passwords. Be particularly aware since calls pretending to assist you in making an online payment have increased in frequency of late.
Do not accept links from strangers online
If you happen to receive links from unknown numbers giving you special discounts on popular websites, or even news updates on the latest happenings, do not open them. Always rely only on official information channels to prevent yourself from accessing these potential scam links, which can activate a malware even with just the link being opened.
Set and store passwords wisely
Password thefts are possibly the most common cybercrime today. To prevent this, try to not save your critical passwords on your browser. In fact, it is best to not save passwords at all. Additionally, set long passwords with a tricky mix of characters, in a sequence that only you can possibly know. If you must, note your passwords down in an old-fashioned, physical diary, keeping the key information away from online risks.
Do not download unverified software
Many attackers try to dupe users by offering software that claims to speed up devices, and the like. Pro tip: Never open these files. Often, such software is accompanied by malware that can completely take over your machines and be hard to remove later. Download software only from verified, official sources, and over secure networks only.