As our technology evolves, so do the threats to our digital security. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercrime increased by 600%, and 2017 already recorded 30 million cyberattacks per year.
People are connected to the internet constantly, and for most people, it is impossible to cut themselves off from potential threats. Not only may these hackers access your sensitive information, but they can wreak havoc on your devices with high data usage, low battery life, and constant crashes.
It is easy to be overwhelmed when you realize how vulnerable your devices are to spy-ware, but fortunately, our methods of fighting these attacks have evolved as well beyond just antivirus software and anti-malware apps.
You can take actions in your life that will reduce your odds of being a victim of a cyber attack and beef up your security.
Here are some of the options you have if you want to keep yourself and your devices safe.
Utilize Multi-factor Authentication
A single password might not be enough to keep your data safe in the modern era. Just one account could give criminals access to everything from emails to financial information. No matter how strong your password is, you’re going to want to reinforce your security.
One of the best practices is using a password manager with multi-factor authentication, also known as two-factor authentication or "2FA." Multi-factor authentication adds additional steps beyond password input before accessing your accounts.
Commonly, this works by linking a different device or account that is tied to you that can be used to verify your identity.
Oftentimes a code will be sent to your email or phone that you can input to prove that you are the person trying to access your account.
A variety of devices can be used for multi-factor authentication, and the important thing is that you have consistent access to them.
80% of hacking-related breaches come from weak or stolen passwords, meaning that you are doing yourself a huge service by using two-factor authentication.
All it takes is a few seconds to input a code, which could save you precious time and money otherwise lost to cybercriminals.
Encrypt Your Data
When dealing with sensitive data, you want to be especially careful with its security. There are easy ways to encrypt your smartphone data no matter your service provider. Both Android users and people with iOS devices have encryption options you can easily enable. Here is how it works:
Your data should already be protected by default on your iPhone, no downloads from Apple’s App Store required. Here is how you can make sure.
- Access your settings menu.
- Go to ‘Touch ID and Passcode.’
- Scroll to the bottom and make sure it says ‘data protection is enabled’.
Androids also have built-in encryption services without the need for third-party apps from the Google Play Store.
- Start with your Android phone plugged in.
- Access the security menu in settings.
- Click on the ‘encrypt phone’ option, and leave the phone plugged in until the process is complete.
When your phone is locked, it isn’t just like a real-life lock that a person can pick for unfettered access to your data. When you have a locked pin on most phones, all of your data is encrypted and is completely gibberish until you input the correct password.
Making sure this encryption is strong and up to date is becoming more and more important as phones continue to become increasingly vital in our lives.
Be Careful With Your Connections
One of the most dangerous things you can do to your device is connect to public WIFI. Pop-ups, cookies, and hackers galore lurk on those coffee house wifi connections.
Free public wifi connections don’t require authorization, so hackers easily position themselves between you and the connection point. So you are sending your browsing history or passwords to them. Hackers can even access your phone's camera and microphones over unsecured connections.
Obviously, the best way to protect yourself, in this case, is to avoid public wifi entirely. When you aren’t near a trusted connection point, you can turn off wifi on your devices to avoid connection to an unwanted network.
Many phone plans give you a large amount of cellular data that doesn’t require a wifi connection.
However, this isn’t always a realistic option for people who need access to their network on the go. As a result, you have a few other options that you can try.
One option is using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data and make it harder to penetrate by a hacker on the same wifi as you.
However you choose to approach the issue, it is best practice to be aware of the dangers of public wifi and do your best to avoid having to interact with it if possible.
Watch out for phishing scams
Phishing scams are one of the most common ways thieves try to steal your data. These come in the form of social media messages, texts, or emails that ask you to respond and give up your information by pretending to be someone they are not.
Sometimes these criminals will pretend to be large corporations, while others will go a step further and pretend to be someone you know in real life. Phishing scams tend to be obvious, with bad grammar and clear attempts to steal your information.
However, you can’t assume that will always be the case, and so you should stay diligent and always make sure the messages you get are from the right people.
If you are asked to divulge sensitive information, question it and contact the organization through email or phone.
Don’t even click on a link that you get from a potential phishing scam, as you should interact with them as little as possible.
If you suspect an email you got was a phishing scam, you can report it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From malware to suspicious apps to spam messages, hackers have all kinds of avenues for stealing your data. Fortunately, you have plenty of tools to stave phone hacking off. In addition to the options listed above, consider using the Burner app to reduce the amount of scam text messages sent to your phone number.
Instead, you can give your number to the people you trust and use your burner number for everyone else. When you do this, dangerous scam messages are more likely to be sent to the burner number, allowing you to address them without compromising your devices.
Regardless of what method you use, you must prioritize your internet security, especially on your smartphone. Make sure your phone is encrypted, use complex passwords, and consider using multi-factor authentication to stay protected.
Avoid public wifi networks and suspicious messages. If you stay vigilant, you can significantly decrease your chances of having your data stolen by hackers.
Visit Burner now to get your second number and protect your privacy.