5 Steps to Boost Online Safety and Avoid Falling Victim to a Cyberattack

Boosting online safety has become a topic of discussion as cyberattacks have become more and more prevalent.

National Security Agency hacking tools were reportedly made available online this summer, which might explain why well-known websites are now being hacked at a more frequent rate, according to The New York Times.

In a recent interview, Quincy Larson, the founder of Free Code Camp, which teaches people how to code, outlined ways to protect yourself from "anyone trying to access your data whom you haven't given express permission to."

Here's a few of those steps.

1) Use Signal or WhatsApp for Text Messages

Signal is a messaging app that provides users with mobile protection, according to the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Security experts recommend this app because messages exchanged can only be viewed by those in the conversation.

WhatsApp — like Signal — encrypts messaging as well.

2) Protect Your Computer's Hard Drive

Larson said a person's computer is what most hackers try to get into when attempting to steal personal data and information, The New York Times noted.

Even passwords can't necessarily prevent a hacker from gaining "access to all your files if they were unencrypted."

Apple and Windows make tools like FileVault and BitLocket available to customers to prevent hacks.

3) Password Protection is Crucial

Many people change their passwords frequently, which is why Larson said using password managers is important. Password managers use one master password to store several passwords.

According to Business West, hackers, for example, attack small businesses on a daily basis. About 6 million LinkedIn users had their passwords attacked three years ago.

4) Email Protection is Important

The New York Times noted that emails can be further protected by "two-factor authentication."

This tool makes it harder for hackers to access your information through your email server because it forces "anyone trying to sign in to your email from new devices" to enter an additional code before the server gives a person full email access.

5) Install Updates

A patch to block the WannaCrypt ransomware that affected users worldwide over the weekend was sent out by Microsoft in February, Forbes reported.

"How did the malware manage to spread if Microsoft had already shipped a Windows update that fixed the vulnerability WannaCrypt was exploiting? Because not everyone installs those updates in a timely manner," Forbes contributor Lee Matthews noted, adding that sometimes there are good reasons to delay installing updates, but doing so exposes users to vulnerabilities.

Mike PalmerComment