Earlier this year, major brands like Burger King and Jeep made headlines after having their social media networks compromised by hackers. Even celebrities like Justin Bieber, Donald Trump and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have had their personal accounts fall victim to cyberattacks.
Although the shock of these social media horror stories fade with time, cybersecurity remains a real issue that could affect anyone, at any time. So, what can you do to ensure your online accounts don’t come under attack?
With October being National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here are five ways you can protect yourself from online hackers.
Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Although it’s easier to remember one versus several passwords, having a universal password makes you an easy target for hackers. After someone cracks the code to one of your social media accounts, it’s only a matter of time before he or she accesses your other accounts tied to important personal information such as your bank account or credit card. You don’t have to remember these passwords all on your own; there are password protection apps that can help you keep track of all of your passwords in one secure place.
Create complex passwords and change them often. Choosing easy-to-remember and easy-to-guess passwords, such as a family member’s name, birthday or your favorite pet “Fluffy,” is like leaving a spare key under the mat. Instead, create a strong password that is at least eight characters long and contains upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols – and change it regularly.
Never ask a website to save your login information. With the simple click of a button, your computer can remember your usernames and passwords to your favorite websites. Although this feature makes it quick and easy to sign in, never save your password information on a device you share with others, particularly public computers. This makes it all too easy for someone to gain access to your personal accounts.
Enable two-factor identification. Another way to protect your online accounts from a stranger is to enable two-factor authentication. This form of owner identification requires the website to verify an associated entity, such as an IP address, mobile phone number or personal device (laptop, tablet or smartphone), before access is granted.
Password protect your mobile device. If you use your smartphone or tablet to send emails, share social media statuses, make bank transactions or shop online, you don’t want the personal data stored on your device to end up in the wrong hands. For this reason, it’s important to password protect your device by requiring a personal identification number (PIN) or pattern to unlock your home screen.
If you start to notice statuses you didn’t write, logins from unknown locations or apps posting on your behalf, your account is likely compromised. In this case, it’s best to immediately contact the platform’s support center and implement the tips above. By following these guidelines before an online intrusion, however, you will have set up a significant barrier between your online accounts and a digital crisis.