Staying Safe Online: Protecting Your Device and Identity in the Era of Cybercrime
Nowadays, it seems as though one cannot visit an online news site or open a newspaper without being reminded of the constant threat presented by hackers.
These criminals that operate in the shadows of the so-called “dark web” have been victimizing entities and individuals, ranging from private businesses and public services to celebrities, politicians, and even the average American.
We are all highly susceptible to the threat of having our identity stolen or our accounts compromised by criminals all over the world. Nefarious forces are all around the cyber world, like advanced programs designed by the Russian mafia, hidden keyloggers that steal checking account information, and even phishing software developed by teenagers in Africa
Personal vigilance is a necessity in regards to your passwords and sensitive accounts. We will look at some basic actions that anybody can take to ensure online security using the simple basics. Tools such as special software, VPNs, and firewalls can help to protect you from malware and viruses.
Staying Safe on a Wi-Fi Connection
Most people are well acquainted with the risks associated with using open public Wi-Fi networks. These networks are a breeding ground for ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks.
You can protect yourself from this kind of attack by keeping all software up-to-date and avoiding password-protected sites while on public Wi-Fi. In simpler terms, you should not engage in any online activity that contains personal or sensitive information, such as banking, checking private emails, and using social media apps while connected to an open network.
Using a Virtual Private Network or VPN is also a great idea. VPNs encrypt data sent across a Wi-Fi connection, even if the actual connection itself is not secure. This helps protect sensitive information about your identity from attackers.
Protecting Your Mobile Device
The use of mobile devices is becoming a riskier proposition as people have been entrusting their entire life to their phones. Mobile devices are among the most popular targets for cybercriminals and this trend is only getting worse.
Accidentally losing your mobile device or leaving it unattended during public transport or riding in an Uber is a significant risk and an error that is frequently made by all of us. However, the good news is that many simple tools can protect cell phones and prevent unauthorized access.
1. Disable autofill – Many websites and apps automatically fill in usernames when you visit them. Many devices by default use the autofill feature. Turn this off immediately!
2. Remember to Log out – After visiting websites that create user profiles or using mobile applications, especially ones that are linked to one another like the large family of Google apps, you should remember to log off after use. Many apps will automatically leave you signed on, which is easy for your information to be stolen.
3. Use only trusted stores – Only download apps from secure stores. Although this depends on the platform your mobile device uses, there are plenty of great apps available to mobile users in the Apple, Google, and Amazon App Stores.
4. Buy a Safe Device – Did you know that some cell phones come preloaded with malware? In January, it was reported that cell phones manufactured in China and distributed by the American government to low-income individuals were infected with malware during production. This problem has become a widespread issue, as a recent report from CNN says that phones from Chinese manufacturer Tecno that were sold in Ghana, Ethiopia, and Cameroon came loaded with the Chinese-made Triada malware.
Employing Artificial Intelligence Based Cybersecurity Tools
Artificial Intelligence has become an integral part of cybersecurity. AI can help prevent many potential cybercrimes through predictive technology. Security companies are already training AI tools to be able to alert network users to phishing attempts or social engineering scams before they become an issue.
As technology continues to advance, online threats will only multiply and become more sophisticated. The time to take control of your online security is now before you become the next victim.
Written by Julio Rivera
Edited by Alexander Fleiss & Samson Qian
Julio Rivera is a business and political strategist, the Editorial Director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist. His writing, which is focused on cybersecurity and politics, has been published by websites including The Hill, Real Clear Politics, Townhall and American Thinker.