Whether it’s nonstop automated calls, spam emails with get-rich-quick schemes, or the latest corporate data breach, hackers and threats to our information security are everywhere. At this point, you can almost guarantee that multiple attempts have been made to infiltrate your accounts and information, and those attacks aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
So what can you do? It turns out there’s quite a lot you can do to stay safe and minimize the threat and potential impact of future attacks on your data. Here are three of the most important steps you can take.
Put yourself through a password boot camp. If you’re recycling any of your usernames or passwords, you could be giving hackers new opportunities to access your personal accounts. One of the first things most hackers do when a password is leaked is begin trying that password with other sites. Everyone feels a little guilty about their own password security, and that’s normal, but it’s never too late to update your password practices and level-up your security game. Here are three steps to get started.
Consider using a password manager. There are plenty of great password managers out there, and it’s a good idea to sign up for one. Password managers like LastPass, 1Password, or Dashlane maintain all of your passwords for you, so you only have to remember one master password, and they’ll often provide proactive alerts to let you know when it’s time to change a password for a specific account.
Make sure every one of your accounts has a unique password. Sharing a password across accounts multiplies risk, so it’s worth it to make sure that every password you use is unique. This will be a time-consuming task, but don’t put it off. The security of your information may depend on it!
Get rid of any papers or notes that include any of your account passwords. Physical records of your passwords may sound like a good idea, but they’re really not. The reality is that anywhere a password is written down is a liability. Even if it’s in a code only you understand, codes are meant to be broken. This is an easy security gap to close, and there aren’t really any good reasons to keep written records of your passwords.
Secure your home network with a physical security appliance. Keeping your home network secure is a thankless, never-ending job, and it’s easy to postpone ongoing security tasks like software updates. Thankfully, you don’t have to hire your own system administrator to stay safe. You can rely on new hardware and software solutions to automate your security habits.
Our favorite is the Roqos Core VPN Router, which pulls double duty as a VPN device (so you can browse the web anonymously) and a security appliance that can keep hackers out and apply parental controls. With a Roqos Core, you can configure your network to your preferences from your smartphone and let it handle the rest. It can even block all ads across your entire network, so web pages will load faster.
Protect your most important online accounts with two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication, sometimes called 2FA or multifactor authentication, is an additional step you can add to further secure certain web accounts. With 2FA, once you log in with your username and password, an authentication request is sent to another device — dubbed the “second factor” — and you must confirm the request to enable access. 2FA is one of the easiest, most effective security measures you can take because it means that if hackers steal your username and password, they still won’t be able to get your data.
There are plenty of good multifactor solutions available. If you’re looking for a smartphone app to use as your second factor, try Google Authenticator, Authy, or Duo Mobile; if you want to use a physical USB security key as your second factor, consider a Yubico YubiKey 4.
Your best defense against hacking is self-awareness. Hackers prefer easy marks, so even taking small steps to improve your personal security practices can make a big difference when it comes to keeping your data safe. The more steps you take, the safer you’ll be, so don’t put it off any longer!
Jaime Vazquez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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