1. You are a target.
This may be hard to believe, but you are a target. Maybe not from North Korea or your local government, but scammers do want your money, and they hope you will unwittingly hand it over.
2. P@ssword1 is not enough.
Weak passwords are extremely easy to figure out. Its time to start using a password manager, or at the bare minimum, use a strong password generator, writing them down somewhere you know that they will be safe.
This might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s much harder to gain access to your residence, then it is to brute force your blog.
3. Never leave your devices unattended.
Leaving your phone while you go to the washroom is no different than leaving your purse or wallet, it has all of your personal data, and passwords saved in your browser history. If you have ever had anything stolen, you know how fast it can happen.
The same goes for leaving your computer open and unlocked. All it takes is a bash bunny (USB loaded with hacking scripts) and around 10 seconds to own your computer. This is why most data centers are so heavily guarded.
4. Practice safe clicking.
If you get an email from your bank (or any service you subscribe to), close that email and go directly to the bank’s website. Scammers are very good at making it look like you are logging into your bank account, most experts can’t even tell the difference.
5. Careful where you browse
Don’t go to Starbucks, connect to there WiFi and start doing your banking, or anywhere else that provides free internet, especially hotels + airplanes. Its extremely easy setup a modem and broadcast “Official WiFi, Free Internet, Hotel Lobby…”, giving a hacker a window into your browsing.
At the same time, don’t use a friends computer for anything sensitive. It’s extremely easy to go into your keychain list and open your credentials after you go home.
6. Back up everything.
If you do click & accidentally install Ransomware, your device will be encrypted. Hackers will ask for ransom, even if you pay, they might decide it is not enough and ask for even more money.
If you have a backup, you can access those personal photos, documents, and easily get your device back.
7. Watch where you plug.
Be careful what you plug into your computer. If you pick up a USB key labeled “Jenny’s photos” from a malls parking lot, that USB could be filled with hacking software. Hackers prey on curiosity.
8. Name your first pet.
Careful what you share online, it is very easy to reverse engineer where you live, where you work or your daily routines. Even worse, a quiz that asks you personal questions (first pet, mothers maiden name…) could give hackers the resources they need to reset your (banking) password.
9. This is your bank, we need to…
Offline, in the real world, its ok to say no if someone calls asking you to prove your identity, you can easily call them back. Scammers are normally not enabled to handle incoming calls. If its a legitimate business, they should have no problem having you call them back and talk to another representative.
Other organizations will never call you, they will only send letters or visit you directly (IRS/CRA, Police…).
10. Remember your accounts.
Monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity. If you see something weird, it could be a sign that you’ve been hacked.