Whether using the internet for play or work, you want to spend your time online enjoying the peace of mind that comes with having a secure network.
You don’t want to contend with someone taking your personal data — whether it’s credit card information, passwords, or bank account details — via malware or a data breach on your Android, Windows, or Apple iOS device.
Fortunately, with some sensible precautions and simple steps, you can use your connected devices productively without worrying about cybercriminals and malicious software. This article explains how to stop hackers from getting access to your sensitive data.
8 ways to protect your identity from hackers
You can take steps to protect your different computing and mobile devices and operating systems. These steps can be divided into technological solutions and the right awareness and information to provide a comforting measure of self-protection.
It’s like learning karate for self-defense, giving you confidence as you negotiate the wider world (and hoping that you never have to use it).
Use identity protection software
When it comes to identity protection software, McAfee provides a proven solution with our identity protection and privacy services. The protection includes alerts if your sensitive information is found on the dark web (up to 10 months sooner than other providers), personal data cleanup from sites gathering and selling your information, and an unlimited virtual public network (VPN) service that protects your privacy as you use public Wi-Fi networks.
You’ll also get up to $1 million in identity theft coverage and hands-on restoration support to help you reclaim your identity.
Use complex passwords
Simple, obvious passwords and passcodes (like your street address, your birthday, your kids’ or pets’ names, or “1234” or “abcd”) are easy for cybercriminals to crack, giving them unwanted access to your private data.
The stronger your password, the better your protection. Some best password practices include:
- Use a different password for all your online accounts, including your email accounts, social media platforms, and bank accounts.
- Create a password that’s at least eight characters long, combining lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Don’t use consecutive keystrokes, such as “qwerty.”
- Don’t share your passwords with anyone.
- Avoid entering your password on unsecured public Wi-Fi, such as at an airport or in a coffee shop.
Regularly update passwords
It’s important not to be a standing target. Just as you should use different passwords for everything, you should regularly change your passwords. You should do this a few times a year (although some cyber experts say this might not be necessary if you have a long and very complicated password).
If you have a number of passwords that you update often, it might be worth getting a password manager like McAfee True Key to keep track of them. Not only will you not be faced with remembering all your different passwords or writing them down (also a no-no), but it can also help you create and store unique passwords.
The software uses the strongest encryption algorithms available to protect your passwords, scrambling them so no one else can access them. It’ll also suggest new passwords and automatically log you into your online accounts with just one master password.
Use multi-factor authentication
Another important line of defense is multi-factor authentication (sometimes known as two-factor authentication). This system uses a password and a second piece of verification — often an SMS message sent to your Android device or iPhone — to authenticate your identity.
This provides hard-to-beat protection even if a hacker has your password. Besides receiving SMS codes, there are also code-generating apps and physical security keys.
Learn to spot potential scams
Thinking before you click on an email or text is a very important defense against phishing scams. Your bank won’t send you an email or text notifying you that there’s been suspicious activity on your account.
Does getting a large refund from your phone company sound too good to be true? It is. Similarly, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) won’t text to tell you that you owe them money, and princes aren’t going to give you a fortune out of the blue.
Internet users beware: If you’re not absolutely certain that the text message you received is from a legitimate and trusted source, delete it. You can always contact the business or person directly to confirm that the message is legit.
Keep device software up to date
Any operating system or app you use is open to malicious cyberattacks. This is why you should keep all your software up to date with the latest versions. Software developers are continually fixing holes in their products and offering cybersecurity patches to make them as safe and hacker-proof as possible.
Make sure your software, firmware, and security settings are up to date on your home’s Wi-Fi router, as well. You can often change your settings to allow for automatic updates.
Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi
Sure, who doesn’t like to go to a cafe, library, or hotel lobby to use the free Wi-Fi? But security is often weak in these public networks. If you open your online banking account or access personal information, you may unwittingly be giving a personal invitation to eavesdropping cybercriminals.
Even if your device does get hacked, you can protect vital information on your Windows or macOS system with an encryption program like BitLocker or FileVault. You can protect any hard drive you use, including portable ones and USB keys.
It’s also a good idea to only shop at encrypted websites marked with the prefix “HTTPS” in their URLs.
Discover how McAfee keeps you secure online
One of the best ways to surf the web in comfort while keeping hackers at bay is with the comprehensive solutions provided by McAfee Total Protection.
Your protection includes proactive measures (meaning we’ll guide you to the best choices for prevention), early detection, and expert identity theft support.
This means you’ll get identity monitoring, up to $1 million in identity theft coverage, lost wallet protection, premium antivirus software, a secure VPN, and personal data removal. In particular, our Personal Data Cleanup service will help find and remove your personal information from data broker websites and people search sites.
With McAfee, you don’t have to be afraid of hackers. Let us deal with them.