In the first book of the series, Blogging is Murder, all the trouble starts when Jade Blackwell’s friend and fellow blogger, Liz Collins, has her cyber-security breached. A hacker accesses all of her online business accounts, including her blog and social media accounts. YIKES!
While researching for the book, I learned a great deal about cyber-security measures and how hackers can easily get into our online lives. It’s scary stuff, let me tell ya!
Since I want to help keep my fans safe, I decided it would be a good idea to share some of the tips I learned. I’d hate for you all to end up being accused of murder, like poor Liz! 🙁
You don’t have to be a blogger to get hacked, as I’m sure you know. We’ve probably all had a scare at one time or another. We log into our online banking and see charges we don’t recognize. Or we get suspicious email. Since so much of our lives are now online, it’s important that we do everything we can to keep ourselves safe!
- Use unique, complicated passwords–I know I’m not the first to tell you this, but people still resist taking the advice. We’re all guilty of wanting to make our lives easier by using the same user ID and password (and even security questions) on all or most of our accounts. But we simply can’t do that if we want to keep our cyber-security top-notch!Change your User ID on all accounts so that it isn’t your email address–there are easy ways for people to get your email address and then guess your password. Use nonsensical combos of letters, numbers and symbols so that they are much harder to hack. This is the number one tip for keeping hackers out of your account!
- Updated security and browser versions–Most of us keep anti-virus and anti-spyware on our computers. But we might be less consistent about updating the versions when prompted. I’ve been guilty of this as well. It’s annoying to have to stop in the middle of a project to reboot your computer. However, it would be a much bigger hassle to be hacked!When your anti-virus software or favorite browser releases a new version, it’s because there are new safety provisions in place. Hackers quickly find ways around cyber-security blocks, so to keep our information safe, security software and browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox, update their products to hinder hackers. So, when you are notified about a new version, stop what you are doing and update it right away.
- Avoid links in emails–One of the favorite ploys of phishing scams is to send out an email that looks official–like it’s from your bank or credit card–that asks you to get important update information by clicking on the link to access your account. When you do, they monitor the login information you use to access your account so they can steal your identity. Just get in the habit of going directly to the website to log in instead of clicking on the link…just in case it’s a phishing email instead of the real Mccoy.
- Avoid sending or saving login info online–Never send a friend or family member your login, credit card number or any other sensitive information via email or instant messaging. These two ways of communication are not secure–it’s easy for hackers to access both. Also, don’t store that information on a doc on your hard drive because that’s also easy for hackers to get into. If you need to give sensitive info to someone, give it to them over the phone. And save your User ID and Passwords in paper form or use a password manager program. Many of the password manager systems also generate unique, complicated passwords for each of your accounts.
- Make sure you are logging in with secure settings–When you log in to any website, you want to see “https://” (with an ‘s’ on the end) of the URL. When you see that, you know you’re logging in through a secure setting where it’s harder for hackers to access your accounts. If there’s no ‘s’ on the end, your connection isn’t secure. You can change your computer settings to ensure you always have a secure connection. I use Kaspersky Internet security, which makes sure all websites I use connect this way. If the website can’t be reached on a secure connection, it pops up a message and gets me out of there fast.
It’s a lot easier for hackers to access our accounts than what we think, so stay safe! What cyber-security tips do you have? Please leave them in the comments below!