The media nowadays is full of stories about cyber criminals hacking and stealing personal information from devices. It makes us think about how much do we really put online and what are we actually storing on our computer. Would we really be at a loss if someone saw our holiday snaps in Ibiza? Probably not, but what about the credit card details you put in online to pay for the holiday itself? It’s worth thinking about what extra measures we can take to protect ourselves from these criminals.
If you use your laptop or mobile phone on unsecured wifi networks often, then you’re even more at risk of having your information stolen. This can be a problem especially if you’re buying anything or inputting any account passwords when connected to these networks as they are open and require no security barriers in form of passwords when accessing them or the information about the devices that are connected to them. There is a way other than not using these networks at all, and that is to pay for a VPN, or a Virtual Private Network.
VPN’s use the wifi to create a personal network just for your device, encrypting any information so that it is unhackable or not seen by anyone else who is also connected to the network. If you’re only using these kinds of networks to browse generally for short amounts of time, then it may not be worth it to pay out for a service to protect you as it’s unlikely you’ll be a target. However, if you frequent these open networks, whether it be because of business or out of sheer convenience, then you should probably protect all of your information as you’re more vulnerable. The prices of these services can vary from being free with most offering a free trial, to up to £50 approx a year for a subscription. Norton offer a middle ground wifi protection service for £19.99 a year for one device but unlike a lot of services, they offer it across most operating systems.
If you don’t need a VPN service, another way you can help protect your information is to not only regularly change your passwords but if you struggle to come up with strong passwords that are more difficult to guess, then using a password generator or a pin generator to ensure your passwords are strong and random. Norton’s google chrome add on has this built in for you to use and it also offers to remember it for you for next time so you don’t have to write them down anywhere.
You’ve probably heard it a million times about being aware of what you open in regards to emails and links. There’s a new scam around at the moment with emails looking like legitimate notifications from banks, amazon and the apple store. A way you can check their legitimacy is to have a quick look at the email it has been sent from. Is it a bunch of numbers and letters that don’t make sense? Then don’t press anything on the email.