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Essential Tips to Stay Safe Online in 2020

Use these great tips to avoid becoming a victim of a cybercrime.

Right now we all spend so much more time online than before the pandemic. We shop online because malls are closed, see our friends and family via video calls, and work from home while the kids are studying online. With all that, the Internet has become an indispensable tool.

However, with the increased time spent online, the possibility to become a victim of cybercrime has also increased. You might accidentally hand your information over to hackers, say, through a phishing email, or even have your identity stolen. Almost half of the householders in the UK (49%) say that they worry about this, which is not surprising.

Even though the situation with cybersecurity is not ideal, these rules will make sure you stay safe online.

1. Make your passwords secure

When creating any password, follow these rules:

Using your maiden name or the name of your favorite football team and other personal information puts your account at risk, as this info could be found on social networks.

Use upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols in your password. Use to check how much time it will take to crack your password, and if it’s not long, it’s time to change it.

Use different passwords for each account, and in case the worst happens, hackers will only have access to one account

Mike Zoldan | All images and videos are copyrighted to their respective owners

2. Don’t share your personal data on social media

Don’t post some information, including your address, date of birth, maiden name, etc. online – otherwise hackers can see this and use it to try to access your accounts, or even steal your identity. Always check the privacy settings on your social networks to make sure that you’re not sharing information with random people on the network, only with the people you know.

3. Notice scam emails

Those messages like ‘This is hilarious!’ or ‘Check out what I saw about you!’ which are sent together with a link or attachments often are malicious, that’s why you shouldn’t open them under no circumstances. Also, don’t open attachments with emails if you aren’t sure who the sender is, be cautious even if you do know the sender.

4. Download software only from reliable sources

Use the app store on your smartphone or the manufacturer’s site instead of searching for an app to download. This will help you download original software rather than a virus or another malicious program.

Mike Zoldan | All images and videos are copyrighted to their respective owners

5. Be careful with credit cards

We recommend you have one credit card which you’ll use only for online shopping (don’t use debit cards because they trace directly to the bank). Set the limit so that if your card gets stolen this wouldn’t be a complete disaster to lose that money. If there’s such an option in your bank, sign up to MasterCard SecureCode or the Verified by Visa schemes. This will give you an additional layer of protection, as you’ll have to set a password and input specific characters from it for any online transaction to go through. Lastly, check if the site is secure before typing the credit card details.

6. Personal information

Don’t use the Remember Me feature when you enter the password on a site or save credit card details. Even though filling in your information every time you buy something is very annoying, by using features like Remember Me you might agree to T&Cs that have access to your data without even knowing it! Then the data can be sold or/and used to show you specific adverts and offers. In addition to that, if the information is stored incorrectly, it may well get leaked online in case of a security breach. In 2017 during an Equifax hack,  the details of about 209,000 credit cards were disclosed.

7. Turn on two-step verification

Use two-step verification for all your online accounts or devices where this is possible. What is a two-step verification? It’s a system in which every time you log in, in addition to entering your password, you’ll have to enter a code. Sometimes you will even receive an email with the info that someone has logged in from an unusual device. Outlook, Gmail, Facebook, and lots of other sites offer this service.

Mike Zoldan | All images and videos are copyrighted to their respective owners

8. Be careful with your devices

Watch carefully all your devices connected to the Internet, like laptops, smartphones, and so on. There must be a PIN, password, fingerprint, or something like that so that if your gadget is lost or stolen, the other people couldn’t access your personal information.

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