What else can be more horrific after spending the long Christmas holidays than to realize that your email account, Facebook or Twitter account have been accessed by somebody else? Worse, you found out on New Year’s day that your account has been completely taken over by someone pretending to be you?
Have you heard of those scary stories of bank accounts being wiped out of money right after their email accounts have been hacked?
What should you do to prevent your internet accounts from being taken over?
Keep your email account safe:
- Go old school. Write down on a notebook all the email addresses that are in your email account address book. Make sure to keep copies of this in your bedroom and your office drawer. If in case your account has been compromised and hacked, you can notify your friends and relatives who own these email addresses right away.
- Never, ever open email attachments from senders that you do not know. Even if you know the person sending you the email, confirm from him or her that he or she really sent you that attachment.
- Do no store any banking information in your email.
- If you do online stock trading and your email account was taken over, request from your stockbroker if it’s possible to change your account number and password for your online trading account. Make a new email account and link this to your newly-reset online stock trading account. Never keep your online stock trading account information in your email inbox.
- Do not send any hate mails to your hacked account using your new email.
Protect your social networking site account:
- Set your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts to “Private” to limit the visibility of your information to your close friends and relatives only. (You may check out also Facebook’s new privacy settings.)
- Do not post any private information such as your full home address, birth date, driver’s license number, office or school addresses, etc. as I mentioned in my previous posts.
- Never entrust your password details to anyone.
Observe general online safety awareness:
- Do not use unknown password managers and generators. Hackers and identity thieves are witty enough to create viruses and worms to attack these password managing applications and then eventually gain access to your device.
- Make sure that your virus scanner and anti-virus software are always updated.
- Never click on flash ad banners as you may unintentionally activate a virus.
What about changing your email and social media account passwords as one of your first New Year’s resolutions?
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P.S. 3. Visit the Philippine Red Cross site to donate whatever amount you can for the victims of typhoons “Pablo” and “Quinta” in the Philippines.
Photo credit: Rosie O’Beirne