As an individual, here are some realistic, personal safeguards to continuously follow to make sure your information does not get out.
1.) Do not click on random links, always check the destination of a link by hovering over it before clicking on it. The link may be to a malicious site that tries to track your location and get sensitive information about you. They are often used in phishing email scams.
2.) Use passphrases, not passwords, basically make your passwords more complicated by making them a phrase instead of a single word like “password123”. If possible, try and implement two factor authentication for your account (linking your phone number to your account). Do not just have slight variations of the same password for your various accounts, use special characters as well, for example:" P@$$W0rD0N32thRee123!@# "
3.) Switch up your passwords frequently, on your more important accounts especially, try to change the password every couple of months. Yes it's hard to remember every password and continuously switch, but it is a best practice, use a secure place to store your passwords.
4.) Keep track of your passwords in secure notebook (offline is best) or in a password management service (your google account manages a lot of online passwords for you). But you want to keep your passwords off the cloud if possible.
5.) Phishing attempts happen on your phone as well, be wary of phone calls asking you to check something on your computer, they are usually trying to get sensitive information about your operating system to try and figure out how to attack it.
6.) Your home wifi password should be long and complex, an open wifi or public wifi from a Starbucks leaves you vulnerable to attackers. Make sure your wifi router has an extremely secure password, look into VPN service if you must use public wifi.
7.) Be wary of all devices connected to the Internet in your house, even Ring devices or cameras for security, these devices can get compromised and lead to scary instances of hackers knowing when you leave the house. Set strong passwords on these devices when possible.
8.) Keep downloading updates for your machines, operating systems, and software applications you use, updates constantly have security patches and fixes to help protect their users. Set your software updates to happen automatically in your machine's settings to stay up to date on security.
9.) Do not sell used devices that have not been fully wiped of your personal data, an old computer you sell could still have your sensitive information stored that a hacker can use or can be sold to a hacker.
10.) Disconnect unused connections, there is no point to have an old machine that has not had security updates/patches in years still connected to the internet. This leaves an easy target for hackers to attack. Also be wary of Bluetooth connections as well, shut Bluetooth off if you are not using it.
11.) Monitor your account activities, set in place alerts for when your account is accessed not by your own computer/different ip address, check to make sure your bank account hasn’t had any suspicious charges on it. Monitor it so you can act accordingly if any suspicious activity happens.
12.) Act swiftly and with a plan if your devices are hacked. Make sure you change your passwords on that account immediately, stop using that password for your other accounts, and notify the company holding your account that it was hacked and they should further assist you.
Any machine can get hacked which is scary to think about but by following these guidelines you can greatly reduce the risk of getting hacked and the potential damage a hack can do to you.
These are principles that the team at RoadMap Technologies follow to stay on top of their cyber exposure as well as top safety protocols to ensure that client data stays secure.