I am by no means an expert in cyber security, but there was a period in my life where I worked in IT for five years. Throughout this duration I routinely helped people who had their account credentials compromised.
If you’re someone who worries about your personal info online, then keep reading for some basic tips on how to secure your online accounts.
1. Phishing Awareness
The most common reason someone’s account gets compromised is simply human vulnerability. It is rare that anyone would be “hacking” into your account or device.
If you enter your Facebook account credentials somewhere you shouldn’t, it was human error that compromised your info.
The first step to preventing this scenario and securing your online accounts is to familiarize yourself with phishing attempts. In short, phishing attempts are attacks specifically aimed at the person behind the account.
Have you ever received one of those spam emails asking you to click on a link or download an attachment? That’s phishing. It’s an attack that will try to trick you into thinking what you’re doing is normal.
Common examples are emails impersonating your bank, social media platform or someone you might know. They will ask some sort of action of you whether it’s clicking the link, downloading the attachment, going to the website or calling the phone number.
ALWAYS be paranoid of such emails. If you receive something that seems like phishing but you’re not sure, directly contact whatever service its referencing (or contact your IT department if you have one) and they can confirm if it’s legit.
2. Two-Factor Authentication
The next tip for securing your online accounts is to get two-factor authentication. If you compromise your account credentials due to something like a phishing attempt, two-factor authentication can be the backup that saves you.
It’s essentially just an additional security step to your login process that relies on an outside device or application. For example, if you sign into Twitter on your laptop and you have to input a code generated on your phone to complete the process, that’s two-factor authentication.
It guarantees that someone with your username and password will not be able to sign into your account without your two-factor step.
These days most smartphones have their own authenticator app already installed, Google Authenticator on Android for example, and most services strongly encourage if not require two-factor to be setup.
If you want a simple but highly effective method for securing your online accounts, then be sure to setup two-factor authentication for the sites you use like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
3. Password Practices
The last tip for securing your online accounts is another basic one. When you’re creating a new account and need to think of a password, do NOT go with something that’s easy to guess.
Your password should be something memorable but never based on personal information like your name or date of birth. JohnDoe1978 might seem secure but it’s not.
If your password is based on personal information it greatly increases the likelihood of someone else being able to guess it just by knowing a little bit about you.
Go with a password that’s a bit more unique. Something like Gr33nTower! would be perfectly safe to use while being more memorable than a random string of numbers and letters.
Just make sure not to use the same password for more than one account. If one of your accounts gets compromised then you don’t want all your other accounts to be compromised too.
And for the love of God, do not keep physical copies of your password on something like a sticky note hanging from your computer.
© 2000 - 2021 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)