Test your own online security… before criminals do.
Just like testing a door after you’ve locked it, one proven technique to ensure online safety is to act like a cybercriminal would. Questioning and testing your own online security methods will quickly show up any deficiencies. Once you’ve found the open doors, it’s much easier to secure them.
Luckily for us, some Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies (4IR Tech) can help, such as password management apps.
Passwords are not secure
The use of passwords as a singular security measure online is an outdated, unsafe practise that should be considered unsafe in isolation. The seemingly easy hacking of online company databases means your emails and passwords are likely to already have been exposed to criminals.
Use two-step verification
When offered the opportunity online to use two-step (or two factor) verification, always use it in addition to an email and password combination. This means you will receive an SMS or use a code from an app such as Google’s Authenticator in addition to an email address and password combination when logging in.
Password managers can keep you safe(r)
Repetitively using the same password for many different online services, or not using complex passwords (natural language words that are easy to guess), exposes your digital self to easily avoidable risks.
Lower your risk of exposure – check out these password management apps:
The human factor
Even if you are super careful with your digital self through using complex passwords and two-step verification, it all comes to naught if you inadvertently let others into your online accounts by being careless. At some level, all of us are sometimes naïve. We want to trust others and are thus susceptible to be scammed out of our login secrets.
The technical term is social engineering, but what it means in simple terms is a criminal convincing you to part with your login details. It’s surprising how frequently this happens. According to Verizon’s informative 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, phishing is the most common technique, representing 80% of all social engineering attacks.
Phishing (just like fishing) convinces you to part with sensitive information such as login credentials by pretending to be something else. It’s the bait covering the hook.
Become a sceptic
While it’s an unfortunate by-product of our 4IR world, one of the most effective ways to protect your digital self is to become a sceptic. Rather err on the side of distrusting everything online before accepting anything as legitimate first-off.
Cyber criminals act in a super trustworthy, friendly manner for a reason: to gain your trust.
One of your best defence tactics is to check, double check and then triple check everything. If you’re in any way suspicious, don’t continue and never, ever provide your personal login information to anyone. It’s always better to be safe than sorry online.
Personal hacking checklist
If you answer “Yes” to any one of these questions, you could be hacked easily:
- I use the same password for many online accounts
- I do not insist on two-step verification
- I do not use a password manager app
- I sometimes provide my personal login details to others via email
- I have provided someone my login details over the phone
- I have emailed or messaged my passwords to someone
- I keep all my passwords in a single document on my computer
- I have clicked on a link emailed to me, even if I couldn’t verify its authenticity
- I have logged into sensitive online services on public Wi-Fi
- I don’t always triple check the authenticity of a website, for instance by making sure the site is secure (the lock icon in a browser’s address bar)