Over a billion people’s data was compromised in 2018. Additionally, unpredictable number was stolen from individuals using unsecured Wi-Fi networks or various scams, phishing, and social engineering techniques. Daniel Markuson, Digital Privacy Expert at NordVPN, says that this year will bring even worse cybersecurity threats, including phishing emails, ransomware attacks, and Wi-Fi hacks. Those threats are especially dangerous for travelers, as they often connect to public Wi-Fi or book hotels and tickets on the go.
“We never know when our data is going to end up in the wrong hands,” says Daniel Markuson, Digital Privacy Expert at NordVPN. “We have very little control over when the next company or even governmental system will be hacked. But even if we can’t prevent all cyber threats, there are things we can do to make our digital life safer.”
If you often think that you should take some action to secure your digital life, make it happen in 2019. NordVPN has put together advice for staying safe this year:
- Use stronger passwords. Passwords keep your online accounts with your sensitive data locked – that’s why you should make them strong. Weak passwords make it simple for hackers and other shady personas to break into your account and cause severe damage. By the way, never use the same password for several accounts. It’s advisable to use a password manager that will generate unique passwords and make your life easier. Two-factor authentication for the most important accounts might be a good idea as well.
- Stop oversharing on social media. Once and for all, realize that everything you share online will stay there forever, so adjust your settings to private. Each time you announce that you are on vacation with the family, it’s a signal that your home is empty. Or when you say you are leaving town, there might be a wide audience reading that. It’s wiser to wait till you get home to post travel pictures. And of course, never share your address or phone number on social media.
- Be careful with public Wi-Fi. Cybercriminals see public Wi-Fi networks as gold mines. They have their own methods to intercept your internet connection and collect your sensitive information: credit card details, passwords, phone numbers, addresses and so on. So be vigilant when using public Wi-Fi, use a firewall, and install a VPN, like NordVPN, which encrypts your online data.
- Stay away from suspicious links. The easiest way to hack someone's device or to steal their sensitive data is through infected links. Before clicking on any link, button or banner, it’s essential to make sure both the sender and the destination site are legitimate. It is advised to hover your mouse over the link or banner before clicking it. When you do that, a small box pops up to show you where the link really leads.
- Always keep your software and apps updated. Those updates are there for a reason, but people still tend to postpone software and app update prompts. Updates usually contain security patches, which are released to protect your system from threats. If you skip them - your data and everything you do with your device become vulnerable. On the other hand, install new apps and software only from reputable sources, for example, official app stores.
- Shop and book tickets only on secure websites. When making an online payment or entering any personal information, the first thing you should check is whether the webpage URL starts with ‘https’ rather than ‘http.’ The tiny ‘s’ in the URL means that the connection is made through a secure protocol and your data is encrypted properly. Also, whenever a website requests more information than is typically required, it usually is fraud. You should ideally stick to sites you trust.