There are two types of companies: those who have been hacked, and those who don’t yet know they have been hacked.
– John Chambers, CEO of CISCO
Corporate hacks, data breaches, and leaked celebrity photos: data security has seen almost non-stop news coverage in recent years.
You can’t do anything about hackers or companies with inadequate security. Fortunately there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of hackers gaining access to your accounts, and minimise the impact if they do.
My Spotify account recently got hacked, which prompted me to improve security on my other online accounts. Here are three of the most important things I did, which you should also consider doing today.
Check Your Passwords
Adobe. Tesco. Sony. Vodafone. Yahoo. Domino’s. Forbes. Adult Friend Finder. Gawker. Ashley Madison. VTech. All of these sites have been hacked, and all have had their account data leaked. If you had an account with one of these sites, it’s likely that someone else now knows your password.
How do you find out if your data was leaked in any of these cases? HaveIBeenPwned.com allows you to enter your email address and search for it among over 220 million leaked accounts across all the above (and more) breaches. You can also sign up to receive notifications in case you are ever involved in a future leak.
If your details were leaked and you reused the password somewhere else, then you should consider that password public information and change it as soon as you can. To protect yourself against future hacks, one of the best things you can do is to use a unique, strong password for every account you have.
Set Up Two-Step Verification For Your Email Account
Your email account can be used to gain access to almost all of your other accounts. Two-step verification is an extra hurdle that makes it much harder for a hacker to gain unauthorised access to your account, by requesting an extra code when you log on from a new device. Here’s how to do this for Google/Microsoft/Apple accounts.
If that seems like too much hassle, this article is worth reading to see the full impact of losing access to your email account. If you think reading the article isn’t worth your time either, then just tweet me your email address and password and I’ll set up two-step verification for you.
Only joking, you should never do that. Please set up two-step verification.
Pay Attention To The Little Padlock Icon In Your Browser
When doing anything online, realise that people can listen in. If you’re using public wifi, it’s possible for people to intercept all the messages going between your device and the website you’re visiting. One way to protect yourself is by making sure that the messages being exchanged are encrypted, which means that anyone listening won’t be able to understand them.
How do you do this? Look out for the padlock icon in your browser, which means that a site is using HTTPS. HTTPS messages are encrypted, so anything sent between you and that site will be protected from prying eyes. Do not send or receive any sensitive information on a webpage without the padlock icon, especially if you are using a public wireless network.
Thanks for reading. If you found this useful, please recommend and share. Leave a comment or response if you have any tips of your own!