How keep your accounts safe from hackers and scammers

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Your whole life is likely scattered across the internet.

From old social networks you no longer use to some email account you haven’t access in the best part of a decade, each of those accounts is potentially an open door into your private life for a hacker.

Therefore, it’s really important you secure all your online accounts – especially the ones you no longer use.

Here are some tips that you can implement right away that will help keep your accounts safe from hackers.

So get to it! No excuses.

Secure your password

Ensuring you use a strong password is the one of the easiest ways to protect an online account from hackers. Whatever you do never reuse a password across multiple online accounts.

Rather than choosing a password consisting of 8-12 random characters and numbers that can be difficult to remember, opt for a pass-phrase or sentence.

Make sure your passphrase is at least 12 characters and is something that is easy to remember. However, avoid using the names of pets, children, favourite sports teams or anything else that could be obtained from social media accounts.

Use a password manager

The best way to organise and keep track of your online accounts is to use a password manager.

The password manager will create passwords for you and assign them to each new account. You then only need to remember a master password, which you obviously need to make sure is really secure. Take a look at LastPass or 1Password.

Add two factor authentication

Most major websites or online services now offer users two factor authentication on their accounts.

It works by adding an extra layer of security to your account and means that even if someone obtains your username and password, they also need physical access to your devices. This is because a code is sent to the device that is required to access your account. The code is sent via SMS or an app meaning that they will need to be in possession of your device in order to receive the code. No code – no access to your account.

Close old accounts

Close, delete or deactivate old accounts you never use. If you’ve got an old online dating or email account you no longer use, get rid of it. This can often be done via account settings.

Secure your connection

Never log in to a sensitive account from a public or unsecure network. For banking, one of the most secure methods is to use a cellular connection from your smartphone and access your account via your bank’s app.

At home you should also consider using a Virtual Private Network or VPN. This will mask your actual location and creates a secure, encrypted connection that you use to access the internet. It’s yet another layer of protection that hackers shouldn’t be able to crack.

Clean up social media

Take time to clean up your social media accounts. Delete anything you don’t want people to see and make sure you restricts your posts to actual friends. And while we’re on the subject of friends, dont be friends with people on social media you don’t actually know in real life. Don’t accept friend requests from strangers, regardless of how attractive they appear in their profile photo!

And remember, if you want something to remain private don’t post it on social media.

Phishing scams

Phishing is one of the most common methods used by hackers. The scam normally comes in the form of an email claiming to be from a company or contact you recognise, asking you to click on a link or download an attachment. However, the link will take you to a malicious site controlled by the hackers and the attachment will likely install data stealing malware onto your device.

Remember no legit company ever asks to via email to click on a link or download an attachment to access or update your account details.

Often phishing emails will also include some kind of mistake that give away the scam. It could be a spelling mistake, poor grammar or sent from an email address that just doesn’t look right – so be vigilant!

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