Last year, we’ve seen a series of major privacy-related scandals shake the world of the internet, ranging from the one involving Facebook and the British firm Cambridge Analytica to news about various breaches, leaks, and hacks that, among others, led to the closure of Google’s social network, Google+. If anything, these scandals have directed the focus of the average internet user to the importance of navigating the vast waters of the internet in a more attentive and careful way.
Keeping safe online has become a major topic in many areas – today, let’s take a look at some of the best practices that will be able to keep your photos, bank accounts, phone number, even your Betway secure online sports betting account out of the wrong hands.
Use strong passwords (and a password manager)
One of the ways attackers can penetrate your online accounts is a so-called “brute force” attack – trying various combinations of usernames and passwords, often automatically, to gain access to them. And the best way to avoid your password to be broken through such an attack is to choose a password that is as complicated as possible. The best password is one that has at least eight characters, mixing uppercase and lower case letters, numbers, special characters like “@”, “#” and “/” (not ? and *, though) and sometimes, even spaces.
Breaking a password as the one described above would take a computer using a “brute force” algorithm more than 45 years.
You may argue that passwords like the one above are hard to keep in mind… well, this is what password managers are for. These are services that store your password on a secure cloud server accessible only to you – and instead of keeping tens of passwords in mind, you’ll only have to remember one.
If you haven’t already, start using two-factor authentication – 2FA, for short – wherever you can. 2FA is an authentication method that requires you to confirm your identity to gain access to an online account. The most common forms of 2FA are either a text message sent to your phone with a special, temporary code you need to input or through authenticator services that do pretty much the same.
Using 2FA (especially the method involving a text message sent to your phone) has another use: it alerts you if somebody tries to gain access to your account, prompting you to change your password immediately.
Use an internet security suite (and common sense)
Last but not least, let us mention something that has become a must these days (aside from staying away from shady websites): having at least a basic antivirus/antimalware/internet security software running on your computer. In the case of Windows users, the combination of Windows Defender, Windows Firewall, and a free antivirus like Bitdefender or Avast usually does the trick – especially when combined with common sense: staying away from shady websites, only opening email attachments coming from a trusted source, and double-checking requests of, say, updating your personal information from your bank and other entities that usually don’t communicate with you by email or instant messaging.
And most importantly, always back up your important data – files, documents, pictures, and everything else you can’t reinstall or re-download from the internet. This way, even if you are targeted by a ransomware attack or your system is cannibalized by a computer virus, you can wipe it clean and start over with a clean install.