6 Tips for Protecting Yourself Against Cyber Attacks

6 Tips for Protecting Yourself Against Cyber Attacks

Cyber security is projected to be one of the main trends for ecommerce in 2017, and with good reason: more consumers pay online from desktop systems than from mobile. Indeed, one of the main reasons for increasing popularity of the new class of phone payment apps – such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and PayPal – is that no credit card numbers actually change hands in the transaction.

However, no matter how much innovation and progress is being made, the most important element of any effective anti-fraud strategy lies in the consumer. Here are some useful tips besides simple password complexity that you can use to take anti-fraud protection to the next level.

  1. A public wifi connection is really public
    Virtually everyone with a laptop or tablet has signed on to a local, free public wifi network. But be warned: when you use public wifi that isn’t password-protected, then it’s much more susceptible to hacking. It’s a short hop and a skip to siphoning off any passwords or private information you are sending or receiving. The golden rule is not to buy anything or divulge financial information of any kind while on a public wifi connection. Save it for later, when you are in a more secure environment.
  2. Protect your financial information
    Simple online fraud is a numbers game. If you receive an email that your bank’s computers have had a meltdown and that the bank needs to verify some of your personal information, your first reaction should be one of skepticism. For every one hundred emails a fraudster sends out, they are expecting a reply from less than one percent. Under no circumstances should you even acknowledge receipt of the email to the sender. The same applies if the contact is via a phone call, rather than an email. Protect your financial information like everyone in the world is trying to get it out of you.
  3. Social media is a trojan horse
    We all love social media, but unfortunately, if we’re not careful, it can also be a window into our most private information – from personal to financial. The more personal information you give out on social media, the easier you make it for someone to hack into your online accounts. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that a two-way conversation you are having on Facebook or Twitter can actually be read by everyone else, whether you know them or not. And be sure to activate as many security options on your social media platforms as you can stand.
  4. Use credit cards online, not debit cards
    The simple fact is that credit cards offer greater purchase protection than either debit cards or prepaid cards. While banks offer protection for illegal use of both credit and debit cards, it may take a lot longer to get your money back from debit card abuse. Buying a prepaid card to be used exclusively for online purchases can limit losses should the financial details of the card fall into unscrupulous hands.
  5. Games are fun until they’re not
    Especially online games, and especially games that require you to sign up to play by giving up some personal information. It all may seem innocuous enough, but giving up your home address — which in turn is then sold to another entity – and then having a personal social media account that allows for easy cross-referencing to your address may let the cat out of the bag when you’re away on vacation and no one is home. Also, games don’t need to be played online for them to be dangerous. Downloaded games could be collecting your personal information for forwarding to a third party. The golden rule would be to take special care when a game requires you to sign on with personal information.
  6. Monitor credit card and bank accounts
    Any account linked to either a credit card or bank card should be monitored at least monthly. Even a casual perusal of the monthly statement should be enough to spot any unauthorized purchases. Also, alerts can be set up with the credit card company or bank which requires them to contact you when a reasonable purchasing limit has been exceeded – for example, $100.

While online and credit card security is likely to become even more of a hot topic in the immediate future, basic steps can be taken by the consumer to limit losses and reduce risk. However, while those precautions often require pro-active actions, foresight and a certain amount of work to pay dividends, a little forethought is better than a compromised credit card or bank account.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

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