Today, it is just as important to ensure the security of your digital life as much as keeping the track of your wallet. In most circumstances far more important than protecting the wallet.
We are living in the peak age of connectivity never recorded before in human history, with a lot of people anxious about stealing your information and using it for wrongdoings. Take for example, with access to your email address anyone will be able to break into your social media accounts where you just shared your deepest secret with your most loyal friend or access to your AliExpress or eBay account and purchase anything using your credit/ debit card with just one click. For these reasons, you must ensure your accounts are properly secured with the maximum security available with your service providers.
Well, lucky for you here are few ways you can ensure the safety of your digital life just a tick further.
1. Keep your mobile locked and disable lock screen notifications.
Yes, your mobile. If you are a 90s or 80s kid you might remember every website you register on only asks for the verification of your email address, and that is not at all foolproof. Companies started implementing verification by mobile number in the recent years and have grown astronomically high due to its high rate of verification authenticity. In addition to just verification, mobile number is now being used as the identity or the backup solution in case of forgetting the password or when resetting the account.
Companies with whom we are very much entangled today, for example, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram they are all use mobile number authentication and password resetting via mobile number. Meaning, anyone who is able to read SMS messages on your mobile is able to break-in to your aforementioned accounts and do serious harm.
What you should you do:
- Ensure your phone is automatically locked if not in use
- Disable Lock Screen Notifications / Hide notification content on lock screen
- Never leave your phone unlocked
- Always warn your service provider (Dhiraagu or Ooredoo if you are in Maldives) first if your phone is stolen or lost. Your service provider will temporarily disconnect the service.
2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication and standalone authentication services (where possible).
Two-factor authentication (aka) Multi-Factor Authentication is an additional security layer other than just entering your username and password to login. Bank of Maldives Payment Gateways’ OTP function is an example of two-factor authentication.
You can set-up two-factor authentication for most commonly used digital services such as Google, Apple, Facebook and other services as well. Just navigate to security settings and set up two-factor authentication for your mobile number. After set-up, each time you log in you will be required to enter an OTP (one-time password) that is delivered to your phone via SMS.
You can also set-up your phone as the second layer of authentication for your Google account. Just install Google Authenticator and follow the instructions.
Google Authenticator for android
Google Authenticator for iOS
You will be able to login to your google account with Google Authenticator even if you are unable to receive SMS to pass through the Two-Factor Authentication security level.
3. Do not connect to questionable open wi-fi networks
Even tho, the sound of FREE wifi sounds music to your ears, do not do the grave mistake of connecting to questionable wifi networks or hotspots. Especially if your device holds banking and credit card information.
Wifi zones are also a network when you connect and register onto a wifi network your device is vulnerable to break in easily. Not to mention all the websites you browse into with your within the wifi network can be viewed by the service provider.
Always make sure you are connecting to a verified wifi connection. There are plenty of paid and free wifi hotspots around Male’ City set up by two service providers Ooredoo and Dhiraagu. You will be plenty safe login into these connections and do your banking and what else you might be doing (downloading a pirated copy of the latest Games of Thrones episode?) your information will be protected.
Free wifi at Velaanaa International Airport is also provided by one of the service providers and you can trust with it.
4. Never use the same password, change passwords often
If you are using the same password for your email address and your social media accounts, CHANGE IT NOW. Never use the same password for two different services online. Often times hackers break into servers of our service providers and sell such information to interested parties. If you are using the same password for all the services online you are instantly in danger of being hacked.
My advice is to use a strong password, which includes upper and lower case letters with special characters and numbers with minimum 8 characters long.
It can be frustrating to memorize passwords of every service that we are using today. One thing you can do is to use similar slightly changed passwords for each account and change it completely once every 2 or 3 months.
For some reason, I do not recommend using password providers as they too hold the risk of being hacked themselves.
5. Use Internet Security Anti-Virus programs
If you are on a Mac or on windows and if you are regularly updating your windows you may not need an Anti-Virus program to protect from local threats. Unless your use with the device is highly confidential and you can’t risk any little bit of what you do leak.
However, It is safe to keep an active trusty anti-virus program installed on your device that can protect and warn you of suspicious activity by your wifi network, or from particular websites.
Popular antivirus solution that I recommend is Kaspersky Internet Security 2017. Not only it blocks threats but tries to keep your digital presence secure.
6. Use a genuine VPN.
VPN or a Virtual Private Network hide your original IP and encrypts all the data that is being sent by your device effectively masking your doings on the internet. This is an option if you are willing to connect to just any wifi network available to your device. Using a VPN will guarantee the security of your online activity, but is still vulnerable to offline browsing, remember when you connect to a network, the provider is able to access your device and extract information through many ways. Especially if the provider is a hacker for some reason.
So the best way is not connecting to free questionable wifi networks.
However, using a VPN service is highly recommended with your trustee network as well, as it masks your activity online and allows you to browse as if you are in another country that enables you to browse on regionally blocked websites.
When choosing a VPN, do not cheap out on free options. A free VPN almost never works as advertised.
It is 2017, we do our shopping online, we pay our bills online and even we make friends and date online. We provide tonnes of information about ourselves to our trustee services to make our experience better online. Our location, our favorites, our routines, even our calendar is uploaded to some service provider expecting to enhance our experience, they do deliver too.
However, with this much information being shared, it is a no-brainer that we must ensure anyone who shouldn’t have access to such information is kept away from accessing it. Follow the steps 1 to 5 and if you want to go a little extra do the step 6 as well.
Keep using the internet responsibly.!