BuzzFeed technology editor Charlie Warzel shared six helpful password tips with the Today Show recently. The following steps can help keep your online data safe:
- – Get a password manager: Consider apps like LastPass and Keepass; also, be sure to check to see whether your browser or device has something similar built in.
- – Pick strong passwords: Obviously avoid “password” or “123456” but do consider a long, strong phrase with caps, numbers, and special characters (such as & and %) mixed in.
- – Don’t repeat passwords: If your eBay password is also the one you use on Amazon, Google, and Facebook, all those are compromised, too, and hackers will be quick to take advantage. Remember: eBay came clean recently that it had suffered a data breach of 145 million customer records. The eBay attack was even bigger than the well-known Target data breach last year that exposed 40 million credit cards and 110 million user records.
- – Sign up for two-factor authentication: this simply means that changes to your account have to be approved by both email as well as phone/text message.
- – Use common sense: don’t open weird attachments, don’t install software from random websites, and don’t put your password anywhere but in fields marked password.
- – Use anti-virus software: download a few of the many free malware and virus detection apps (Spybot, MalwareBytes, AVG) regularly, but remember they can’t prevent hacks that have never been seen before, or ones happening halfway across the world.
Although Warzel’s list was comprehensive, it didn’t include the importance of using a personal VPN in public WiFi hotspots. That’s because WiFi signals (in places like airports, hotels, cafes, parks, etc.) are radio waves; anyone within range of a public WiFi network can listen in on what users are sending and receiving. But a VPN like PRIVATE WiFi encrypts the data being sent and received in a hotspot.
Just as a strong password is a helpful step to protecting your privacy, and just as antivirus and firewalls keep your data safe, a personal VPN keeps your sensitive information hidden from hackers and cybercrooks.