SPYSCAPE's Top 10 Online Safety Tips

Stay safe with expert advice from Anonymous hackers and British Intelligence:

1. Mind what you click and who you trust

Only click on attachments or links from sources you fully trust. It’s easy for scammers to set up legitimate-looking websites, email addresses, or customer support profiles. In fact, they sometimes search for targets on social media. If they find someone having issues with, say, banking, they’ll lure them in with a message from a fake account that looks like it’s from their bank.

2. Install an anti-virus program, and update your software

Most viruses can be thwarted by an anti-virus package (such as MalwareBytes or AVG) and by keeping your software up to date. That’s because ethical hackers work with companies to fix vulnerabilities and those fixes go into software updates.

Your anti-virus can also detect if you’ve been hacked. Pesky adware or serious viruses may be lingering on your computer, slowing down your browsing or harvesting your information. Keep on top of them by setting your anti-virus to perform regular scans.

3. Take control of your passwords

It’s advice as old as the internet: always use strong passwords. Make sure your cell phone, tablet, and computer passwords are complex, non-obvious, and known only to you.

However, for your online accounts and services, remembering dozens of unique, strong passwords is nearly impossible. Computers are better than humans at making as well as cracking passwords. We recommend using a tool to generate and store your passwords, so you only need to remember a single, master password. We like LastPass, but there are other good services available. Also, remember that a password on its own might not be enough. Enable two-factor authentication settings wherever possible.

4. Control your online life

The more information there is about you on the web, the more you open yourself up to being hacked. Are you oversharing your personal information? Review your individual privacy settings (like who can view your Facebook posts) to make sure you’re not leaving yourself exposed.

5. Keep your browsing private

Your online behavior is gold, not only for marketing companies, but also for hackers and others who might want to build a profile on you. Minimise this risk by using an anonymity service when browsing online. We like Tor which works as a simple addition to your browser, though there are many services available. Use a different username / email address if you don’t trust a site. And delete any old accounts you don’t use anymore.

6. Monitor your presence online

Some of your private information might be public without your knowledge. To find out, run a Google search on your name, email address, and any aliases. Also, use Have I Been Pwned? to check if your details have been exposed in a hack. The service records all public data breaches so you can see if your email address has been in one. If it has, change your password immediately, along with those of any other accounts that use the same or a similar password.

7. Create backups to keep your files safe

Nobody likes losing data, especially to ransomware (software that blocks access to your computer until you pay up). So you should back up your most important files to an offline, local drive. External hard drives and USB flash drives are cheap nowadays. And there’s software available to simplify the process of backing up to them. Cloud storage is another cheap and easy option. But it’s always safest to keep your most sensitive files in your own hands.

8. Watch out for malicious physical devices

You should never plug anything into your computer that you don’t trust. This includes USB sticks and jump drives--literally anything that attaches to your device. Programs might possibly infect your device and then extract your data without your knowledge. Viruses can also enter your system in milliseconds.

9. Be careful with public WiFi

You never know who else is on that coffee shop network or what their intentions might be. Someone could be snooping on your browsing behavior and online purchases. To stop them, use your phone’s mobile data to connect to the internet, or use public WiFi along with an anonymity service (see point 5 above).

10. Be in the know

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Stay safe in the digital world

Fraud, identity theft, blackmail. If you’re not careful online you could be an easy target for malicious hackers. You may even have been hacked already and not know about it. Tip 2 will help if so.