It seems as if there’s news of another hack almost every day and sometimes it’s hard to know how to stay safe online. But there are five things you can do to protect yourself – and your family.
1. Look after your passwords
First, how do you know if one of your accounts has been compromised? You should get a notification from the company (like this one sent by Yahoo! to its users) but if you want to check if you’ve been caught in previous breaches, Have I Been Pwnd, which is run by security researcher Troy Hunt, is a quick and safe way to find out.
Enter your email address and if it’s been compromised in any of the 245 breaches the website has data on, it will quickly tell you. You can also set up alerts so that you’ll quickly find out if you’ve been caught in any new breaches.
What if you've been hacked? How can you secure your email account?
First, change your password – and make sure you use a different password for every single website you’ve registered with. That includes your email, Facebook, other social media platforms, online banking and of course WorldRemit.
Every password should be strong: don’t use easy-to-guess words such as your pet’s name, the street you live on or your favourite football team. You should use a mixture of characters, too: upper and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters.
But don’t pick passwords with obvious character substitutions: hackers know those substitutions too, and so “Pa$$w0rd” really is just as insecure as “password”.
One good approach to strong passwords is to pick a phrase – but not a well-known quote. Hackers have lists of common passwords, which means a weak one will be cracked in seconds. A longer, complex phrase – something like “Grandma’s front door is blue and white”, which you’ll remember, is much harder for a hacker to crack using a brute-force attack.
Choosing and then remembering different complex passwords for every site is hard – so use a password manager instead. There are several to choose from. I use LastPass, but you could pick Dashlane, KeePass, 1Password or one of the many others.
These create an encrypted vault for you to store your passwords and they generate strong, unique passwords for each site and offer mobile apps and browser extensions to make best practice easy for you. All you need to do is create (and remember) one strong master password.