How to Protect my Privacy Online
Protecting your online privacy may cover a myriad of circumstances that can be quite confusing. What we will cover today is how to protect my privacy online as it pertains to your routers, wifi, computers and extending to your DIY home security systems.
We all remember the recent Amazon Ring hacking situations and I will show you a fix for that. Additionally, we will cover information available to you that will strengthen your online and home security, eliminating the fear of being cyber hacked.
As technology has become more advanced, consumers have responded in l ike, taking full advantage of newer automated methods of living (home, business and social) life. The result is that consumers have not learned how to protect their information by filling in the gaps with security from hackers.
Reasons Hackers Hack
It stands to reason that can’t do that without understanding what you’re protecting yourself from (hackers, online predators, etc.). Many hackers are just tech-savvy thieves seeking money as their motive, but that’s not always the case. Hackers can have very diverse motives. Some are trying to pull publicity stunts, or fight for a worthy (or not-so-worthy) cause.
Others, are out to attack business or personal rivals. And still others want to practice their hacking skills out of a curiosity and just for fun. Hackers often obtain your credit card numbers or bank account information. They use that information themselves, or sell it to the highest bidder, open a new credit card, or obtain a loan in your name. Unfortunately, this leaves you on the hook to pay the balance and ruins your credit in the process.
Are You Giving Your Information Away?
We can often make a hackers job easy for them. They can easily plant viruses on computers to automatically steal information, or use phishing to con you into handing over your information willingly.
While ignorance can make you an easy target, learning about hackers, their tools and motives, and how to protect yourself makes you someone they’re more likely to avoid.
By making your home more secure with home security system, thieves are less likely to break into your house.
In a similar sense, expanding your computer security skills will turn hackers away as they will seek out easier targets.
If you’ve recently purchased a smart appliances or smart devices like: smart television, refrigerator, washer/dryer, garage opener, thermostat, watch, etc, then be sure to read on as we move forward. The IoT (Internet of Things), has been a buzz word for the last couple of years. We are sure to hear more of it in the years to come as the ideal of “interconnected devices” becomes more ingrained in our lives.
Recent studies have shown systems are more likely to be compromised due to a lack of basic security controls, not due to sophisticated hacking abilities or vulnerabilities in devices. In order to minimize cyber threats in our most sacred of places – our homes.
Of course, there’s always room for improvement as with anything. Here are some basic concepts on how this all works:
- IoT devices use Wi-Fi to connect to your network and the Internet.
- A wireless router enables Wi-Fi signals to broadcast throughout your home.
- Routers act as traffic police, directing traffic in and out of your network and the Internet.
- Routers also connect multiple computer networks together.
- Routers are often set up with default passwords and controls to allow ease of access.
The Bottom line
Securing your router will help beef up your defenses against breaches in your home. When configured properly, routers can keep all but the most determined hackers out. But an improperly configured router is like having a dummy lock on your front door.
In the mid to late 1990’s, computer users throughout the world began to witness the downside of being connected as the world wide web began to show signs that it harbored more than those using it for needful operations.
Volumes of spam flooded email accounts, computer viruses wreaked havoc on all networks, and the criminal element surfaced. These emerging thieves infiltrated computers, stole personal information, tricked people into giving their private data and personal information and extorted consumers, ruined their credit and drained their bank accounts.
Most businesses, both large and small rely on the internet to track financials, maintain inventory, conduct marketing campaigns, connect with customers, engage in social media, and perform other critical operations. Yet, with startling frequency, we hear about massive computer breaches at even the top companies.
Small businesses are responsible for preventing these crimes from harming company property and stealing consumer information. Here are some steps you can take to protect your computer integrity.
1. Use a firewall
The two major computer operating systems have built in firewalls, software designed to create a barrier between your information and the outside world. Firewalls prevent unauthorized access to your network and alert you of any intrusion attempts.
The first thing to do with a computer that is new to you is to make sure the firewall is enabled before you go online. You can also purchase a hardware firewall depending on your broadband router, which also has a built-in firewall that protects your network.
2. Install antivirus software
Computer viruses immunize your computer against unauthorized code or software that threatens your operating system. Viruses have various effects on computers that may not be easy to spot: They might slow your computer to a halt or delete key files. Antivirus software plays a major role in protecting your system by detecting real-time threats to ensure your data is safe.
Some advanced antivirus programs provide automatic updates, further protecting your machine from the new viruses that generate every day. After you install an antivirus program, don’t forget to use it. Run or schedule regular virus scans to keep your computer virus-free. Remember, don’t give your data away.
3. Install an anti-spyware package
Spyware secretly monitors and collects personal information. It is designed to be hard to detect and difficult to remove. It tends to serve up unwanted ads or search results to direct you to certain websites. Some spyware records every keystroke to gain access to passwords and other financial information.
Anti-spyware concentrates exclusively on this part of the nuisance spectrum but is often included in major antivirus packages like McAfee and Norton. Anti-spyware packages provide real-time protection by scanning all incoming information and blocking threats.
4. Use complex passwords
Using secure passwords is the most important way to prevent intrusions onto your computer network. The more secure your passwords, the harder it is for a hacker to invade your system. More secure often means longer and more complex: Use a password that has at least eight characters and a combination of numbers, upper- and lowercase letters, and computer symbols.
Hackers have an arsenal of tools to break short, easy passwords in minutes. Don’t use recognizable words or combinations that represent birthdays or other information that can be connected to you.
5. Keep your OS, apps and browser up to date
Always install new updates to your operating systems. Most updates include security fixes that prevent hackers from accessing and exploiting your data. The same goes for your favorite apps. Today’s web browsers are increasingly sophisticated, especially in privacy and security. Be sure to review your browser security settings in addition to installing all new updates. For example, you can use your browser to prevent websites from tracking your movements, which increases your online privacy.
6. Ignore spam
Beware of email messages from unknown parties, and never click on links or open attachments that accompany them. Spam-catchers have upped their game in recent years and become pretty good at catching the most egregious spam. But phishing emails that mimic your friends, associates and trusted businesses like your bank have proliferated, so keep your antenna tuned to anything that looks or sounds phishy.
7. Back up your computer
Backing up your information is critical in case disaster strikes and hackers do get through and trash your system. Be sure you can rebuild after suffering any data breach or loss. Backup utilities built into the Mac and Windows are good places to start. Purchasing an external backup hard drive assure there is enough space for these utilities to operate properly.
8. Shut it down
Many people, especially those operating a web server, leave their computer up and running all the time. Turn off your machine overnight or during long stretches of time when you’re not working. If it’s always on, your computer is a visible and available target for hackers. it down breaks the connection a hacker may have established with your network and disrupts any possible mischief.
9. Use virtualization
Not everyone needs to take this route, but if you frequent sketchy websites, expect to be bombarded with spyware and viruses. While the best way to avoid browser-derived intrusions is to steer clear of unsafe sites, virtualization allows you to run your browser in a virtual environment like Parallels or VMware Fusion that sidesteps your operating system to keep it safer.
10. Secure your network
If you’ve got a new router, chances are it comes with no set security. Always log in to the router and set a password using a secure, encrypted setup. This prevents intruders from infiltrating your network and messing with your settings.
11. Use two-factor authentication
Passwords are the first line of defense against computer hackers, but a second layer boosts protection. Major online companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft let you enable two-factor authentication, which requires you to type in a numerical code in addition to your password when logging in. This hardens your account to the outside world.
12. Use encryption
Even if someone is able to steal your data or monitor your internet connection, encryption can prevent hackers from accessing any of that information. You can encrypt your Windows or macOS hard drive with BitLocker or FileVault, encrypt any USB flash drive that contains sensitive information, and use a VPN to encrypt your web traffic. Only shop at encrypted websites – you can spot them immediately by the “https” in the address bar accompanied by a closed padlock icon.
The Bottom line
If only internet thieves used their creative talents to earn an honest living, we wouldn’t have to take so many precautions to lock down and harden our computer systems. Until that happens a combination of hardware and software defenses, as well as best computing practices, will remain the barrier between you and online predators.
Amazon Ring fixed a security vulnerability in its Ring doorbell that could have allowed hackers access to homeowners’ networks through Wi-Fi passwords. In December 2019, Ring faced more security issues when a family claimed that a man hacked into their Amazon Ring security camera. The hacker reportedly used it to talk to an 8-year-old girl in her bedroom. Turns out the whole thing may not have been hacking, but just poor password use by the owner.
When Digital Trends reached out to Ring about the most recent incident, a representative had this to say: “Customer trust is important to us and we take the security of our devices seriously. Our security team has investigated this incident and we have no evidence of an unauthorized intrusion or compromise of Ring’s systems or network.
Recently, we were made aware of an incident where malicious actors obtained some Ring users’ account credentials (username and password) from a separate, external, non-Ring service and reused them to log in to some Ring accounts. Unfortunately, when the same username and password is reused on multiple services, it’s possible for bad actors to gain access to many accounts.
Upon learning of the incident, we took appropriate actions to promptly block bad actors from known affected Ring accounts and affected users have been contacted.” So how can you protect your Ring smart cameras? It’s not hard. Here are a few tips:
Enable two-factor authentication
In the case of the 8-year-old girl, the mom admitted that she didn’t enable two-factor authentication. This is a major step in keeping your Ring products safe. To set it up, go to your Ring app and tap the three-lined icon at the upper-left corner of your screen to open the menu.
Then tap Account and Two-factor Authorization, enter your password, and type in the mobile phone number where you want the two-factor authorization code sent. Next, enter the six-digit code that was texted to your phone into the app and then tap Continue to finish.
Now you have an extra layer of security between you and a hacker. When someone attempts to use your account on a new device, a code will be sent to your phone that needs to be entered into the app on the new device. If the hacker doesn’t have your phone, then they won’t be able to gain access to your account because they won’t have the code.
Treat your passwords with Respect
Ring said the hacker was able to gain access to the Ring camera’s account because the owners reused their passwords. So make sure you use a unique password for your account. Also, make sure you create passwords that are hard to crack. Use a mix of numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and symbols like exclamation points.
Try using phrases instead of just one word to make the password extra strong. If you don’t like coming up with passwords, use a password generator. To prevent forgetting your passwords, use a password vault.
Don’t share login information
There may be times when others need access to your Ring equipment. There’s a way to allow this without sharing your login information and jeopardizing your security. Just add them as a shared user on the account. This gives the person, like your teen or roommate, access to view videos, use the two-way talk feature, and save videos, but they won’t have the master account’s login information.
To add a shared user, open the app and choose your device. Then go to Settings and tap on Shared Users and Add User. Next, enter the email address of the person you want to make a shared user. Choose the devices you want to share with the new user and then tap Send Invite. Once the person accepts the invite, the process is complete. They will be able to access the devices through their own app and login credentials. Make sure they’re using good passwords and two-factor authentication, too, though.
My hopes are that you have gained some awareness about your security. Not only must we make our homes a hard target to protect our property, but also our computers and wifi equipment as well.
The more prepared you are for these types of incidents, the less reactive and chaotic your experience will be if the worst happens to you.
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