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How to Protect Yourself from Hackers Online

The internet can be a daunting place these days. While it can often be used for good, such as providing people with remote work and rescuing people with disabilities who find themselves at home, it can also reveal the worst in society who choose to take advantage of people’s good nature.

Whether it’s trying to hack your online accounts, sending you an email with a phishing link to get your credit card details, or shutting down your computer by ransomware, going online is risky.

But, just like with offline security, you can also protect yourself from online hackers by taking reasonable precautions. Obviously, this is not a guarantee that nothing will happen, but it will significantly complicate the task of the opportunistic “travel” hacker.

Strengthen your passwords and use a password manager

The first lesson in computer security is ALWAYS good passwords. Unfortunately, a lot of people hear this, but then disconnect and return to watching Netflix. Internet users with password 12345 or password.

You must have a password:

Use the 2-Factor Authenticator app, not SMS codes

Apart from a secure password, you also need to enable two-factor authentication (if the website in question supports it – more appears all the time).

However, I would not recommend using the default SMS. Simply because some hackers can spoof your mobile phone number and intercept the SMS message. You can reduce the risk to a certain extent by not publishing your mobile number on the Internet.

I recently wrote about how to set up Google Authenticator, and a while ago I also discussed YubiKey, another 2FA method. So I’m just referring you to these articles.

Use a VPN and force all URLs to be encrypted

Try not to use public Wi-Fi unless absolutely necessary. They are very insecure and you can easily get your account login details using a network analysis tool. But if you absolutely must connect to Starbucks Wi-Fi, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk.

Set up a firewall, virus checker, and malware checker

Firewalls can be quite tricky to set up because all incoming and outgoing web traffic is stopped and you have to set up “rules” for each one. But in the end it’s worth it.

MacOS users have a firewall installed automatically on their system (go to Settings Security & Privacy Firewall to enable it). Windows users also have built-in Windows Firewall. There are also various third-party options available, each with varying degrees of reputation.

Constantly scan your computer with a virus and malware scanner and always make sure you download the latest updates. There are several virus and malware scanners for Windows and Mac users can take a look at this list

Check the URLs and files before clicking on them

How many emails do you receive each day claiming they came from your bank, Paypal, or Amazon? They will all try to look like real emails from these places (typos notwithstanding), and ALL of them will tell you that your data has been compromised, and since they are such nice responsive people, here is a password reset link you can click on

But obviously, the password reset link leads to a fake site, and as soon as you enter your old password, they will understand you. So

Close all inactive and unnecessary online accounts

When a hacker has your login credentials for one site, they’ll start seeing which other sites you are on to see if the same credentials work there as well. Therefore, you should not only not reuse passwords, but also close all online accounts that you no longer need.

In many places, it is extremely difficult to close an account, and in some it is even impossible. But you can get direct links to account closure options by searching for Account Killer

Use disposable credit and gift cards

One of the most common ways a hacker can attack people is by stealing credit card information through data breaches. New e-commerce stores are popping up all the time, so the more often you use your credit card to shop online, the more likely it is that your credit card number will end up being compromised.

Make sure there is an HTTPS link on the website you are purchasing from, you should also consider using one-time disposable credit cards and gift cards. Gift cards can be found at local stores and can be used for something like top-up iTunes balances or paying Netflix bills.

Saphia recently introduced 5 reputable single-use credit card services, among which Revolut is one of the best.


The above list is not exhaustive, but if you are just starting out looking to improve the security of your online presence and protect yourself from online hackers, these suggestions are the best place to start.

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