Cybersecurity means protection for data. It means protecting machines involved in storing data and methods of communication to keep data from being intercepted and decrypted. With the recent revelation of a massive hack of Sony Entertainment and the resulting cancellation of a multi-million dollar movie release it is more important than ever that you as an individual also keep your data secure as to avoid any theft of information or funds from your accounts. While many banks and credit card companies provide fraud protection, and will reimburse losses, some will not do so if it is determined that gross negligence has occurred. Gross negligence is extreme carelessness – read below to keep yourself from getting yourself in trouble.
1. Protect your passwords – make sure to never share your password with anyone who might be careless with it. It’s better not to write down your password. Also, try to keep your password 10 digits or more if allowed, including upper-case, lower-case, numbers, and special characters. Ensure your password is not in a dictionary! Avoid using credit cards overseas in shady areas, as some ATMs or card readers may have been hijacked and installed with secondary card readers which will read your number and security code. Do not use the same password for multiple things, for example if your registering for some reward card the website may not encrypt your password so if there is internal fraud or a data breach for that company hackers will surely try to use those credentials in more important areas such as banking.
2. Do not access unprotected wireless access points – whenever you connect to the internet through wifi make sure you know that you are connecting to a genuine hotspot. Hackers can easily set up hotspots where all data is routed through their “packet sniffing” software and they will have access to all unencrypted communications and with the right tools may be able to hack some of your encrypted data.
3. Never let someone else use your machine – if you log into a laptop and let someone else use it, they may be able to install keylogging software in less than a minute which can report keys typed to themselves without you ever seeing this program. Even if you are logging into a secure site the hackers will be able to know which website you are on along with which keys you pressed – from there it’s easy to get your password.
4. Use two factor authentication – two factor authentication usually means a password and some phrase that is generated over time semi-randomly based on a time based key. The code might be accessible through a device you keep on your keychain or sometimes emailed to you. This means just knowing the password will not allow a hacker to get into your information.
5. Set up country specific blocks – if you know you’ll never log into your computer or access your data from Nigeria or Brazil (For example), some websites allow for country specific blocking. This will not keep sophisticated hackers from using proxy servers to try to hack into your account, but should keep a few unwanteds out. You can also call your credit card company and should be able to disable all transactions from outside your home country.
With these five steps in your pocket I’m sure you will feel a bit more secure while letting your nest-egg grow.