In an age where the threats of data breaches and identity theft are looming over every internet user, it’s more important than ever to understand the steps to protect yourself. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available to make sure you’re doing everything right online. However, instead of having to sift through all of these tips, we’ve combined them for the ultimate list of expert-recommended cybersecurity:
- Treat the internet like a traveling experience
According to Glenda Snodgrass, the lead consultant and project manager at the Net Effect, internet users should treat each website visit with the same heightened awareness as if they were traveling to a new country or city.
“If you take that level of awareness with you when you are reading email or surfing on the internet, it will change your perspective,” she said in her talk at the University of West Florida. “It will raise your skepticism.”
In her talk, titled “Cyber Self-Defense: Protecting Your Online Identity,” Snodgrass expressed how important this attitude is, especially considering how profitable hacking has become. Nowadays, she said, trading stolen information from the web can reap a higher price than trading illegal drugs.
- Update your software frequently
Mark Risher, Google’s spam and abuse chief, recently offered some security tips in an interview with Time magazine. His first piece of advice was to make sure your device software is up to date. This is because companies usually work hard to thwart hackers and add features to their software to do so. By avoiding these updates, you’re making yourself that much more vulnerable to the possibility of an attack.
- Use best protection practices for your email account
Michael Kaiser, the executive director of the National Cybersecurity Alliance, told Inc. magazine that people should protect their email accounts even more than their bank accounts. If hackers can hack your email, they can access any account attached to it, like those for financial services or social media. To guard your email account information, Kaiser said to use strong passwords and multifactor-authentication.
- Assign value to your personal information
Another important tip from Kaiser is that internet users should treat their personal information as an asset, like money. If we treated our online accounts and sensitive data with the same fervor as our bank accounts and money, we’d have better defenses against cybercriminals – who already consider our information as a sort of currency. Snodgrass echoed this idea in her tips, calling cybercrime a “big business.”
- Don’t jailbreak or root your phone
Another big tip from Snodgrass was avoiding jailbreaking or rooting your smartphone. These processes essentially unlock an operating system so users can customize their devices and download unapproved applications. Besides taking the risk of rendering your device useless, Snodgrass said, from a security standpoint, this process is basically like stripping your phone of all its defenses against hackers. Much like Risher’s advice to frequently update software, modifying your phone apart from its original settings separates it from built-in security measures. From there on out, you have only yourself to rely on for protection. Chances are, you won’t be as savvy as a computer when it comes to combating identity thieves.
As well as you may follow these tips, they don’t eliminate every opportunity for an identity thief to strike. To take it a step further, you can invest in a service like Identity Guard, which can monitor your credit file and other data points for certain activity that may indicate fraud.