We wear helmets on bikes, seat belts in cars, and aprons when pretending to cook, but when it comes to spending time online, the most protection we offer ourselves is keeping a block of chocolate within arm’s reach.
Last year, Australians lost $300 million in online scams. If that isn’t enough of a reason for you to start taking more precautions online, what about last weekend’s rapidly spreading ransomware of WannaCry? It’s not the first online scam and it won’t be the last, so we think it’s worth getting serious about your digital self.
Here are a list of ways to start safeguarding your online self.
1. Use WhatsApp instead of text
Because WhatsApp data is encrypted, it will take a hacker a hell of a time longer to get their hands on your messages than if they were sent by text. Although Signal is the most popular app for those who are keen to protect their texts, Apple iMessage is also encrypted.
2. Always check the HTTP
A common scam is receiving an email from a payment website, such as PayPal, with a request to verify details under the pretence of suspicious activity. Although the email or website reads “PayPal”, a closer look will show you the URL is completely different if you click on the email’s sender. Before you give out any payment details, remember that secure websites always begin with “https” and not “http”.
3. Install two-step verification
You might, rightly, wave off the option of two-step verification. After all, who needs one more thing to do? You do, especially if you’re keen on a stranger not taking all your money. For example, Google has a pretty great app for this that you can easily download for extra protection of your Google account, but you can also easily install two-step verification on accounts like Facebook, Apple, PayPal Twitter or Dropbox, ensuring an extra security shield for all your sensitive documents.
4. Use a VPN
A VPN, or a virtual protection network, isn’t just for watching US Netflix – it’s actually a secure, encrypted way of browsing. Not only does it help protect you from hackers, but it protects you from your service provider – so none of your data, personal details or browsing history can be sold to third parties.
5. Get yourself a security token
Most banks have some additional security measure you can apply to help keep your transactions ultra-safe. A physical security token, which has an authentication number that constantly changes, will ensure that no-one can transfer money out of your account without having the physical token. Most banks will additionally allow you to set that amount, to ensure that dinner out with pals isn’t such a struggle.
6. Sign up to a password manager
You’re probably using the same password (or iterations of) over several different sites. This is a big no-no. But, as we mentioned, you’re only human, and you can’t actually remember that password you created one-time to get a coupon code.
That’s why you need a password manager. Not only does it generate strong, unique passwords for you, but it also keeps them in one place so you don’t have to remember any of them. (Just try to make the password for your manager really, really good.)
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