Scammers have always been around. Prior to the internet, they would have to find sneaky ways to acquire pertinent financial information. But the advent of the web has brought a host of opportunities for con artists. Many are pretty sophisticated but there are a few ways that you can protect your privacy.
Be Careful On Public WiFi
If you like to go into coffee shops to use their WiFi, you should pay attention to the websites you use and the information you input. Hackers can pretty easily access your information in that context. A good rule of thumb is to only input information on websites with an HTTPS certificate. You can check the URL of the website you are visiting for this. The HTTPS certificate represents a different protocol than the HTTP certificate. Any information will be encrypted.
Clicking Links In Emails
Gmail is pretty good about filtering out spammy emails. But if an unfamiliar email appears in your inbox, be careful about clicking the links or downloading the documents. They typically offer an employment opportunity or a credit card offer.
Another consideration is that if you are on a work or school email, spammers can pretty much guess email addresses based on the names of employees and students. They will mimic the emails you would expect in that inbox. A simple preventative measure is to just check the email address before clicking a link.
Another problem is that sometimes spammers can take control of a friend's account. This is especially prevalent in Yahoo accounts. If a contact has an old Yahoo account, and they sent you a random message with an unsolicited link, you should probably find another medium to ask that friend about the suspicious email.
Unique Passwords And Pins
There are broadly two types of people who would attempt to guess your password: people you know and people you do not know. Those who know you will anticipate that your password is related to your interests or your family. A simple password like "NYYankees" will be easy for an acquaintance to guess.
On the other hand, those you do not know usually have automated systems designed to guess every word combination and possible password until it gains access. It might guess passwords related to your personal information. This could include your social security number, birthday, address or license plate.
If you are interested in password security, you should exclude personal details and your interests. A strong password will have uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and at least 16 characters. While it may be a little inconvenient to type that out, it is a measure to protect your identity. Further, you should familiarize yourself with common pass codes.
The same basic principle can be applied to your phone's pin number. You should not use your phone number or social security number, because a hacker can guess those. Further, a good pin is at least six digits. This will make it more difficult for a computer to guess.
Avoid Sketchy Websites
Spammy sites often share the same characteristics. Most web designers do not use Adobe Flash because those graphics are distracting and annoying. A spammer does not care about that. She has no content and wants the reader distracted. Another common trait is a shortened link. Spammers do not want you to review the website before visiting. Research some of the shared traits of dangerous sites.
Leave Public Forums
If a friend added you to a Facebook group without your consent, you might want to leave it. If there are thousands of people there, you never know who might be looking at your name and gathering information. A related note is that you should turn on Facebook's privacy settings.
Tape The Webcam
Hackers can actually gain access to your webcam. That invasion of privacy is a little more personal than stealing your information. A small piece of duct tape should do the trick. You can remove it whenever you want to video chat with friends.
Your security is integral to your livelihood. Do not cut corners. The advice that you find here is a good place to start.