You probably love it when you go somewhere and there is an open Wi-Fi! Nowadays, almost every café, airport, restaurant, bar and club offers you a possibility to go to the web using your smartphone or laptop. Sounds good, right? Actually, all that implies that the data, including access to your social media accounts, you have on your gadget could be accessible to hackers – except if you’ve found a way to secure your information.
These hackers can make your everyday life miserable once they’ve gotten what they needed from your gadget.
You would probably think that the best way to protect yourself is to download some apps or antiviruses. But this will not help unless we educate ourselves! We must be taught how to distinguish malware and ransomware, what to do to make our passwords stronger, and a lot of other things. I know we’ve all heard this previously, however there’s an explanation people still talk about it — it’s unimaginably significant and it becomes even more important every day. It is essential to take good care of your smartphone but also of everything which is going on on your social media!
Why are hackers dangerous?
Hackers access gadgets or websites without permission to take other people’s data, which they use to carry out the wrongdoings like robbery or blackmail. A lot of people like you and me shop online, pay online, have an active life in social media and even transfer some important information online – all that can be accessed easily by hackers. Other people also store their personal data, for example a number of a bank card, on their gadgets. Sometimes people send some personal information through social media – and that’s no good. A good hacker can do a great deal of harm.
What can I do to protect myself on social media?
Be careful with public Wi-Fi
This may seem to be understandable, however you’d be shocked if you knew the number of individuals which check their bank accounts or shop online while using public Wi-Fi. Sending something personal on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is not safe at all – not only the social media are unsafe but public Wi-Fi can only make it worse. You have to understand that these types of actions are meant to be done only while using a secure connection.
Some essential things to consider: connect only to HTTPS and never under any circumstance connect to HTTP – “S” in HTTPS means “secure”.
If you are not at home, use VPN
VPN is the most reliable thing you can use if you have to connect to Wi-Fi in public places. But what’s important in this case is not to use any VPN – you have to be very careful with that. We have already told you about unreliable apps, including VPN apps, you shouldn’t download here.
That’s how our experts would rate using VPN apps while connecting to public Wi-Fi:
0 – no VPN
2 – free VPN app you’ve never heard about
4 – standart VPN you can find in Browser (for example, Opera)
6 – paid/premium VPN apps
Protect your passwords
Everyone knows that passwords have to be as strong as possible but somehow the majority of people still ignore that. Remember: your password has to be at least 8 characters with a mix of capital and small letters, numbers and symbols. Seems hard to make up such a password and especially to remember it? We have few suggestions: think about your favorite movie or book and take two first letters from each word plus add your favorite number to it and a dot – this would be a great password! Of course, you can add something else or change symbols – it’s up to you but try to make a password long and memorable.
If you want to have a secure password but you don’t think you can remember it – download LastPass.
Multi factor Authentication
On most of the websites and social media you have a choice to log in using multi factor authentication. The strength of authentication systems are mostly evaluated by the number of factors or layers incorporated into that same system. Systems which use multi factor authentication are thought to be stronger than those that use only one factor.
How does it work? For example, in order to access your Instagram account you should not only type a password but also receive a pin-code to your phone number. This way, you will know that if someone else wanted to access your account, you can easily destroy the plans of this person.
Multi factor authentication provides additional security by adding protection like SMS, pin-codes, phone calls, emails, etc. The more layers – the more security. You can find instructions on how to connect multi-factor authentication on the website of the social network that you want to connect to this type of authentication.
Suspicious Emails and Messages
Never open suspicious links in your emails or messages. The best would be to delete spam or strange looking messages without opening them. If you got an unusual message from your friend or relative,the best thing to do would be to contact them and ask if they sent you something before following the link.
Don’t share everything
Be very cautious with everything you post on the internet. First of all, be careful with where you send or post your credit card number or password information. In order to check the websites and files you can use virustotal.com . Also, disable geolocation on the photos you post on social media.
Even more important: never post photos or videos of your documents or tickets. You can be shocked: why can’t you post a nice photo of you going somewhere with your tickets? Well, it’s pretty easy – hackers can get a lot of information from your concert or plane ticket. For example, in March, the former Prime Minister of Australia posted a photo of his plane ticket, and it took less than 45 minutes for hackers to find out his phone number and passport information.
Do not forget about antiviruses and antimalware softwares
Considering you don’t have any security software, install antivirus software and a firewall and remember to update them when it’s necessary. You can find a lot of different products available on the internet – but remember to not to download such software from suspicious websites, trust only the official ones. Antivirus will help you identify the threats and protect your gadget from them.
If you connected your phone or computer through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you should remember to turn these features off when you don’t use them. These actions can prevent hackers from using your network or accessing your devices with bad intentions.
How can I know if I was hacked and what do I do?
These things usually are the indicators of the fact that you’ve been hacked:
- A ransomware message
- A fake antivirus message
- Strange browser toolbars
- Internet searches are redirected
- Random popups
- Your friends receive social media invitations from you that you didn’t send
- Online password isn’t working
- Unexpected software installs
- Your mouse moves by itself
- Online account is missing money
- You get a message you’ve been hacked
- Confidential data has been leaked
- You observe strange network traffic patterns
- You can’t access your social media account even though you’re sure about your password
What can you do? If, for example, your social media (or any other account) has been hacked, first thing you need to do is to regain control. Try to get in touch with the company that owns your account. Every company has their policies, procedures, and recovery steps if something like a hacked account happens. You can find the contacts easily on the Internet.
Another thing you can do (if you can access your account) is to check the settings in order to find out if they were changed – for example, forward the emails to another account. Of course, you should change the password on the account that has been hacked and also any other accounts that use the same password.
Hackers are not nice people – they can basically destroy your life, posting some sensitive information about you, or blackmailing you.They have the information and the ability to get to your most valuable information. You can protect yourself from it if you really take care of everything you rely on – from your password to your emails. Educate yourself and people you know, read a lot of information, and take care of your smartphone and computer the way you take care of your health!