Over the course of the past month, Facebook users around the world have been panicking in response to the news that the online social media and networking service has been collecting call history and SMS data from Android users. Many have even made the radical decision to leave the platform all together. While the latest incident seems to have only effected Android users, it served as a radical reminder that our information on the internet is not as secure as we’d like to believe.
If you, like many others, aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to the popular social network, this is still a great opportunity to reevaluate the way you engage and share your data with the online community. When it comes to your daily habits, a quick refresh could make the difference to ensure you’re protecting your personal information.
Here are three behaviors to consider adopting into your everyday browsing routine for a safer experience:
When in Doubt — DON’T CLICK
When it comes to spam or phishing, you are your own best safeguard. If a link, email or website seems suspicious it most likely is — and you’re better off not engaging. Internet scammers are skilled in the art of deception and manipulation, but common sense is key. Be on the lookout for claims that seem too good to be true, requests that are uncharacteristic of the organization they seem to be coming from or random pop-ups and emails from people or businesses you don’t know. If your suspicion is piqued be sure to avoid sharing any personal information — including passwords, financial details, and anything that you’ve used as an online log-in or security question.
Don’t Stay Logged-In
While it is certainly convenient to remain logged-in across accounts for the sake of time and energy, this can leave you susceptible to hackers who target users through “cookie sniffing.” This is one method hackers can use to access your log-in details by monitoring the web traffic on your computer to pull out important information. If you have any personal information associated with your account on a particular site (tip: this will be most of them) it would be beneficial to log-out before leaving the page to keep your information safe.
Often the hardest to implement — but also one of the most important — you need to ensure all of your apps and programs are up-to-date. It’s easy to decline software updates or postpone them to a later date (including updates for your computer’s operating system), but security patches are often released through these updates. By neglecting updates, you are leaving your devices and thus your information vulnerable. If you have trouble keeping track of updating your programs, it may be helpful to turn on update release notifications or automatic updates.
Browse via the Cloud
One of the best ways to ensure your information is kept secure is to ensure hackers have no way to access it. You can do this by filtering all your web traffic through a cloud server — through using a VPN or a cloud-based browser like Puffin. These options keep your device and your data at arm’s distance from the internet, with all web traffic being handled through unique, encrypted connections provided via cloud servers. These tools essentially establish a hacker roadblock — they can’t get through because you aren’t directly online.