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8 Tips to Help Secure Your Accounts Against Cybercrime

8 Tips to Help Secure Your Accounts Against CybercrimeThe Internet enables us to do things we'd never have even dreamt about even a decade ago. We can buy and sell, learn and teach, meet new people and share experiences without ever leaving te comfort of our homes. But every coin, however, has a flipside, and new dangers stalk us while we're peacefully buying, selling, meeting and sharing.

You've seen the headlines - data breaches at LinkedIn, celebrity Twitter accounts hacked. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is not immune to such attacks.

Thankfully, there are some simple precautionary measures you can take to help minimize the risks. Here are some tips.

1. Awareness

Knowledge is the best way to protect your digital identity. By knowing the dangers of the cyber world, you'll also get a better understanding of how to avoid them. Always find a couple of minutes a day read up on the latest security concerns and remain aware of potentially dangerous situations and vulnerabilities.

2. Anti-virus/spy software

These have long become a must-have for each and every web surfer. Viruses have evolved from simply damaging systems, erasing data and similar outward mischiefs. They can now be used as intricate tools for spying and retrieving your security data and gathering information, such as logins, passwords, keys, phone numbers, e-mails etc., etc.

Install anti-virus software, USB protection and adware blockers so that your device won't betray your interests. And at the same time, don't let such measures lull you into a false sense of security: run regular checks, and don't trust suspicious sites, even if your antivirus doesn't alert you. Scam masterminds are always working to stay a step ahead of the wardens.

3. VPN-services

If you use public Wi-Fi hotspots on a regular basis, a VPN becomes absolutely indispensable.

A VPN is the least protection measure you should use in order to secure your social network and e-mail accounts. It creates a secure encrypted connection between your device and VPN's server.

A VPN, however, is not a silver bullet.

While a VPN does make it harder for hackers and other cybercriminals to spy on you, it’s always better safe than sorry, and you should always avoid sharing potentially sensitive information while using public hotspots.

4. Password generators

Are you proud of your long and sophisticated password that, for years, has been reliable and safe for your multiple online accounts? Don't get too complacent.

In order to stay secure you should change your passwords regularly – and you should avoid using the same one across multiple accounts.

The older your password is, the weaker it becomes each day. If you've run out of ideas or you simply can't memorize new security keys, use a password generator.

These online services will take care of inventing and keeping safe a number of difficult to crack passwords for you.

If you still prefer to come up with your new paswords yourself, make sure they includes both capital and lower-case letters, and numbers also.

5. 2-step authentication

This is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to protect your accounts from being hacked. 

Double-secured accounts are entered through both password and a verification code, normally sent directly to a user’s phone. For some services (for example, online banking and payment systems) such measures are mandatory, but for most social media platforms they're optional. However, it's strongly recommended that you utilize such features for better security.

6. Restriction and blocking apps

This may come as a surprise, but most information breaches occur because a third party, entrusted with the information, leaks it unwittingly. “Third party” meaning your family, friends or even employees.

To be on the safe side you should use the advanced control settings on your devices and limit the sharing of such info to the fewest amount of people possible.

7. Privacy settings

Don't neglect the privacy settings on your social media accounts, applications and other resources which you share information through.

Sometimes the default settings are as far from private as can be and require immediate tweaking to ensure your security isn't compromised.

Make sure you share only what you mean to share, and only with whom you intend to share it with.

You may also want to avoid oversharing in order to maintain a level of anonymity online. Think twice before sharing another picture or clicking “Like” – cyber criminals pick up any shred of information they can get to learn about your tastes and preferences: this makes it easier for them to guess your passwords, secret code words and other information that is supposed to be private.

8. A touch of paranoia

Be suspicious - apply critical thinking and don't trust easily.

You may be sociable, amicable and open-hearted, yet experts advise to add contacts to your friend list only if you know them personally.

Being suspicious will help you avoid the bait set by phishing e-mails and sites and take pause before clicking on links that prompt you to  “Check THIS out!” from your trusted accounts. Double check - make sure the messages really are from one of your connections, not a foe in disguise, who has breached their account.

Also, think twice before sharing sensitive data through unsecured connections – you never know who else might be watching.

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