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Protect Your Digital Self in a Few Minutes a Day

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The Internet is a multi-dimensional virtual world, and there is so much that you can do over the Internet. For example, you can order a Pizza with a click of a button, read newspapers, check-up with your friend over FaceTime, rent a house, and even buy groceries from Amazon. Mind you, this list is not exhaustive.

As we move onto a more digital world with digitization, it is more than essential to protect our personal information from getting in the hands of scammers or hackers.

Notwithstanding the myriad of perks linked with digitization, it is not always a treat. Identity theft, data breaches, and cyberbullying are some of the obnoxious consequences. In addition, the emergence of next-gen technologies has enabled hackers to use complex mechanisms that permit them to intercept sensitive information. Thus, leaving people vulnerable to attacks.

To help lower such incidents, taking the time to safeguard yourself online is of superior value. Most people prefer to use anti-virus software to defend themselves from both internal and external attacks. However, sorry to break the bubble: this is not enough.

Steps to Protect Yourself in the Virtual World

  • Always use two-factor authentication on the apps/websites that you use. As the name suggests, this type of authentication usually verifies your identity two times, which helps keep your account secure even if your passwords have been compromised. For example, Instagram has two-factor authentication, which, if you turn it on, sends you a text message with a code to log in to your account after you have successfully entered your password. Additionally, many websites even use Authenticator apps that display a code on your mobile after entering the correct password.
  • Strengthen your passwords by using a google suggested password or, even better, use a password manager to generate a unique one for you, which is auto-saved. Another crucial thing to remember is to avoid using identical passwords for all your accounts. Password managers are great tools that will help save the hassle of remembering many passwords for the millions of websites out there.

Never use passwords like “123456789” or “{firstname}” or “qwerty”, hackers usually know about this stuff and then will easily be able to breach your account.

  • Keep changing your passwords every 90 days. Yes! You heard it right. Experts suggest that you change your password in a 90-day time frame to ensure that the risk of a data breach is close to none. This advice goes, especially for your bank accounts.
  • Do not respond to text messages or any message on social media asking for money or even promising a considerable amount of money in exchange for your bank details. Unfortunately, these kinds of scams are pretty common in the United States.

Some scams even involve scammers calling on your number and telling you that they are your father or mother’s long-lost cousin and need money. If you come across any of these and still want to confirm if they are telling the truth, use Nuwber. It can verify a person’s true identity and get their contact details. You will also know if that name is an alias or not just with one click.

  • Never open suspicious emails from unrecognized senders. Many scammers resort to phishing, which is one of the most common forms of cyberattacks. Under this, you receive an email masked to look like they are from reputable companies such as financial institutions and social media giants.

They generally contain attachments or links to various websites, and clicking on any of them can expose your device to a strange kind of malware. These links can also be programmed to hack into your computer’s system and retrieve sensitive files.

Quick tip to identify disguised emails.

  • Always check the graphics and the photo placements on these emails. If they look unprofessional, do not click on any link and delete the email. Reputed companies never sent out emails like this.
  • Always check the sender’s address. For example, if it’s allegedly from Facebook or Instagram, it will always have “XYZ@facebook.com” or “XYZ@instagram.com”, they will never use @gmail.com or any other ID to send out these emails.
  • Always check if your name is in the subject line. If not, then it might be a scam.
  • Regularly use a VPN service. You should always try and use a Virtual Private Network, also known as a VPN. These private networks usually help in masking your IP address and also hide your location data. It also helps in encrypting your data. In addition, VPNs can route your data through channels in multiple nations. These create a virtual safety barrier for you.

VPN’s are also helpful if you want to watch movies that are available only regionally in another country. So if you live in the United States and want to watch a show on Netflix UK, then download a VPN service and switch location to the UK, and then you will be able to enjoy your favourite show.

Most VPNs are available for both laptops and mobiles.

  • If websites ask you to provide your email ID before using them, you can use a temporary/disposable email to protect your primary one.

These days many companies often sell our emails to other entities, and then we start receiving that junk mail in our mailbox. To prevent this, when a website asks for an email, go to temporary mail websites, create one, sign up on the website with the temporary email, verify it by going to the inbox page on the disposable mail website and enjoy.

Do not forget your password in this case, as the temporary emails are only valid for 5 minutes or until you close the website, after which your disposable email will have vanished.

Conclusion

Ensuring your safety on the Internet as the world progresses towards a cashless society is paramount. The above safety steps will ensure that you are protecting your digital self in the virtual world.

Acknowledging that the number of online hackers is unwaveringly rising, teaching youngsters about cyber safety is also crucial.

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