learn how to protect accounts and cell phone from attacks

Cell phones have become the center of our lives, bringing together personal, work and financial information on a single device. Exactly for that reason, crooks target these smartphones in theft or robbery. Securing the device to prevent criminals from gaining access to sensitive data, such as email or bank accounts, has become paramount to ensuring security in the digital world.

Below, we list some protection tips, sorted by complexity. The basic level, for example, is simpler to perform, but it can also be bypassed more easily by bandits. The advanced level, on the other hand, is more work to execute, but offers greater barriers.

Learn how to have more security on your cell phone and protect yourself if theft is accompanied by financial scams.
Learn how to have more security on your cell phone and protect yourself if theft is accompanied by financial scams. Photograph: Wilton Junior/Estadão

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Regardless of the level of tips you adopt, it’s always good to keep in mind that there is no magic solution to cybercrime. The important thing is to pay maximum attention and require authorities and institutions to invest in combating fraud in the online environment.

Basic security level

1) Use different alphanumeric passwords (including symbols and combining lowercase and uppercase letters) for each registration, such as in social networks and email;

2) Use random number sequences in financial institutions, such as card passwords or credentials in banking applications (no commemorative dates or obvious sequential numbers);

3) Activate two-step verification with mobile number or email;

4) Put a password on the operator’s SIM card, which will prevent thieves from inserting the card into another device and having access to your number;

5) Always be suspicious: do not click on dubious links or give personal information, even if the request comes from a known contact – these can be cases of “phishing”, when the criminal tries to extract information from you;

6) Activate all biometrics on your device, such as fingerprint and face readers, which help create an extra layer of security.

Intermediate level of security

1) Have random, complex and impossible to memorize passwords: use specific apps (1Password, Last Password) or native browser tools (Google Chrome and Safari), which create complete passwords and place them in a “vault” in the cloud;

2) Enable one-time passwords as another verification step. These passwords are random numbers that act as a second code to strengthen the account. They are created by proprietary apps (Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, Authy, 1Password). Social networks, emails and other platforms allow you to activate the feature;

3) Contact your financial institution and lower daily transfer limits (DOC, TED and Pix), withdrawals and pre-approved loan; in some cases, these functions can be changed via the app;

4) Consider including a trusted contact in your iCloud (Apple) family, allowing family members to quickly wipe the device remotely in case of theft — Android (Google) does not have the feature.

Advanced level of security

1) Buy a physical security key for password recovery and logins, such as Titan (from Google), Yubico and OnlyKey — prices, however, can be steep, exceeding the R$800 range. These objects are small and can be kept in key rings, for example;

2) Generate and print alternative backup codes, which are a series of passwords created automatically by the service registration itself. These codes should be kept at home in a safe place so that access is easy to recover accounts as a last resort when all other methods of account protection and recovery fail. Google, Facebook and Microsoft have this feature and teach you how to do it step by step;

3) If you have adopted a password generator type app (Google Autenticathor, Microsoft Autenticator, Last Password, 1Password), delete all saved passwords from browsers (such as Google Chrome and Safari) to avoid breaches. Here, the idea is to concentrate all your passwords in a more secure place;

4) Create a “secret email” that only you have access to: this account cannot be saved on any everyday device, it must have strong passwords and two-factor authentication enabled. It will be through this email that you will recover the most important accounts, such as Google, Apple and Facebook;

5) Leave a device at home (such as an old tablet or cell phone) to be the place where you access your “secret” email, password apps or even financial institutions that are less used, for example.

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