When it comes to online banking, shopping or checking in on social media, an account is as good as your identification card. Think about it – accounts are the digital you (as long as you’re not a robot). Without access to your account, are you really who you say you are?
It’s the reason why account security and password security are so important these days. If a cybercriminal accesses your account, they can potentially gain control over some of the most meaningful details in your life.
Don’t stress just yet; we’ve got 9 tips that’ll give your account safety online the boost it needs.
1. Don’t use the same password
Cybercriminals are lot like burglars: they love when you leave a window unlocked. They might have to go searching for it, but when they find it then they have free rein of your home.
If a cybercriminal gets that password and email combination – either through hacking or a data breach – then they now have access to all of a victim’s other accounts. All it takes to find out where that combination works is plugging it into a few different popular websites.
By not using the same password for multiple accounts, you’re cutting down on the impact if one of your accounts is compromised. Rather than having to change the details on every website you go to, you can just worry about the one that was hacked.
2. Get a password manager
Of course, keeping track of all those different password and account combinations is difficult. Because you’d never want to keep them in a notebook or Word document (because people could easily steal that, right?) password managers have become an essential tool for anyone that’s interested in account safety.
The password manager that’s a part of Norton 360 solution stores and remembers all your usernames, passwords and more so you don’t have to. Norton Password Manager provides the tools you need to help you generate, store and manage your passwords, but also credit card and other essential credentials online.
Think of it as your own personal account security safe.
3. Create new passwords often
Using different passwords across all of your accounts is only a piece to the puzzle. You’ll also want to update those passwords often, creating new combinations that are difficult for cybercriminals to crack.
Find a happy medium where you’re not forgetting your new passwords (not an issue with a password manager) but that you’re also consistently refreshing your account security.
The reason behind doing this is that once cybercriminals get hold of a password, whether through their own efforts or by purchasing them on the Dark Web, they then use them in what’s called ‘credential stuffing’. This is where they use a robot to plug in hundreds of thousands or millions of known passwords into known email addresses, hoping they can crack a few accounts.
The more you change your password, the less likely that this type of cyberthreat will threaten you.
4. Avoid the ‘Save Password’ tool
You might be wondering why you need a password manager – internet browsers offer the same thing!
The fact of the matter is, the ‘Save Password’ tool you’ve been using is largely there as a convenience, rather than a security feature. It saves your username and password so that you can just click login – or avoid the click altogether – and make your life a little easier.
Unfortunately, this also makes life easier for cybercriminals. The makers of these tools don’t necessarily build protection into these tools, meaning that anyone who has access to the browser can with relatively little effort gain access to those passwords.
5. Enable two-factor authentication
You know when a website asks to link your phone number to an account? That’s a form of account safety called two-factor authentication and it’s a vital tool for anyone looking to keep their account safe.
Two-factor authentication requires users to prove they own the account in two different ways. While a cybercriminal may have access to an account name and password combination, he or she likely isn’t able to intercept text messages or emails.
Two-factor authentication is just another way to improve your account safety online and it should be used wherever it’s available.
6. Check for viruses
Sometimes you can change your passwords, add two-factor authentication and still find that your account has been jeopardised. If this is the case, then you may have a virus on your computer.
A virus can unload a keylogger and other types of tools that cybercriminals can use to steal your account information. Use an antivirus like Norton 360 to scan your device and ensure that cybercriminals aren’t watching or gathering everything you type.
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7. Avoid third-party services you don’t trust
When you allow the latest app you’re playing on your phone to link to your Facebook or Google account, you’re placing a lot of trust in that developer.
On the one hand, if they’re up to no good then they could abuse that privilege to steal your information. On the other hand, if they haven’t invested in great cybersecurity then a cybercriminal could steal your information from them.
By limiting which apps and services can connect to your accounts, you’re also limiting how much exposure your account faces. In other words, each new third-party app or service you connect to your account also raises the risk that its information is stolen. Stick with trusted developers and businesses to keep your information as safe as possible.
8. Use a VPN
When you do your online banking or shopping from the comfort of your favourite café, it can also present a risk. If you can get on a public Wi-Fi network then so can a cybercriminal – and you won’t know if they’re on it.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) let you take back some control by encrypting what you do on the internet. In this case, it can keep your account details away from prying eyes whenever you enter them online.
VPNs are a safer way to browse the web, helping you protect your information from being exposed.
9. Create strong security questions
Security questions are often thought of as your road to recovery should you forget an account’s password, but it also works the same for cybercriminals.
If they have your account name or email address but not a password, cybercriminals may attempt to use information they’ve found out about you as ways to recover your account. Similarly, someone you thought was a friend could dig for details about your past as a way to hijack your account.
Security questions shouldn’t always be truthful answers. Instead of actually writing down where you live if a question asks it, considering using another password or a phrase you won’t forget as the answer. These can’t be easily guessed and can provide better account security.
Make sure your account is safe by using a single solution like Norton 360, which is designed to protect your information from being exposed.