As we live more and more of our lives on the internet, threats to our safety are becoming more cyber in nature. Even on a domestic level, things like cyber-bullying and revenge porn can destroy a person’s life. At the very least, they can make you feel unsafe in your own skin.
On a more macro level, security threats are rife. The convenience of the internet has us doing everything from interacting to shopping to working online. Nearly every part of your life is at risk.
I know this sounds dramatic, but it needs to, because cyber crimes are committed every day, and once you’ve been hit, it can be very hard to recover.
These are the biggest threats you should look out for.
Possibly the most damaging thing that can be done to you online is identity theft. This refers to when a person uses your personal details, including social security numbers, credit cards, and so on, to impersonate you. They pretend to be you, so that they can benefit from your “clean slate”. Their crimes will come back to you. Their bad credit will come back to you.
Once your identity has been stolen, it can be difficult to get it back. Bureaucracy is a nightmare at the best of times. It’s far worse when you have to prove that you are really you.
Hackers can steal your identity in a number of ways. They can get a hold of your information when you use the internet unsecured. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are the best way to protect yourself. They encrypt your data and hide your location.
Phishing (and email scams)
You may be wise to most email scams, but that does not mean they won’t get you. Yes, you’re unlikely to fall for a Nigerian prince promising you riches if you only give him a certain amount of money to release the cash. But anyone can fall prey to a phishing scam. These involve you being led to a website or attachment that appears to be a service you use. For example, you’ll be directed to tvvitter.com instead of twitter.com. When you put in your username and password, it goes to the hacker. If you use the same password for everything, you could be in big trouble.
Social media hacks can be devastating, because of how much information we leave “lying around” in our accounts. You need to know how to protect your social media privacy. A VPN will help to an extent, as will a password manager, but you have to be wise to the scams that are most common at the moment. Check the address of the sender, no matter who it claims to be. Look for spelling mistakes or other errors in the email. Don’t give out your password unless you’re 100% certain that whoever requests it is legitimately who they claim to be.
The internet can be a dangerous place, but with security measures in place, you’re far safer than most people. Be wise to all possible scams, and you’re less likely to be caught out.