Online privacy is everyone’s concern now. People generating tons of data every day by increasing use of the internet and digital devices. Photos, videos, messages, emails and everything you do on the Internet gathers a pile of data into your smartphones, laptops and on your online accounts.
I’ve mentioned a few real-life incidents and examples to make you realize the importance of your online privacy and how to protect your personal data online. So, what you need to do to secure your online accounts? And, password hardening guide with simple actionable tips…
For TL;DR folks this article contains:
- Password hardening
- Password length
- Hard to guess
- Make password hard to crack
- Hard to remember for others
- Two-factor authentication
- Complex answering security questions
- Regulate third-party services
- Think twice before installing free apps
- Do not install apps from untrusted sources
- Limit application permissions to resources
How to Protect Your Personal Data on Online Accounts?
When it comes to online accounts and cloud storage, it becomes a bit tricky. To be frank, hosting your personal data online is like lighting a candle in an open space.
Though, There might not be professional hackers targeting you, unless you become a very popular celebrity or a public figure. But, there are some bad guys with good technical skills around you, who intend to sneak into your personal life with their prying eyes.
So, what can we do to harden the security of online accounts and protect personal data?
First things first…
1. Password Hardening
Is it really needed?
Yes, password hardening is the first step you could take to secure your online accounts. A strong might be hard to crack but the hardening process will make your password much more complicated.
What is Password Hardening?
Password hardening is a process which makes it much more complex and difficult for a hacker to crack. Password hardening will use word phrases or characters that are lengthy, non-regular, guess proof, confusing, hard to understand and remember for others.
Password Hardening Tips:
a. Password Length
Yes, Password length does matter. How lengthy is your password, gets hard to crack. So, make your password as lengthy as you can remember easily.
b. Hard to Guess
Don’t use common passwords for all of your accounts. Also, don’t use your name, date of birth, phone numbers or any of your favorite things or don’t even just as it is they are, so people find it hard to guess.
Character diversification – the combination of alphanumeric characters and symbols is the key to write a strong password.
If you’re an Internet banking services user, you know it well. They don’t even allow such passwords without a capital letter, a small letter, a number, and a symbol.
d. Hard to Crack Passwords
What if, someone can guess what is your password could be?
Your name or your dear ones’ name or date of births or some random numbers you frequently use, like your mobile number or something else.
Of course, people can guess.
I successfully cracked one of my friends’ password by guessing his password with just alphanumeric characters (in presence of him)… make sense?
This is a real scenario that proves the importance of password hardening or password encryption.
As I said earlier in the introduction, those bad guys can steal your personal information and post abusive and explicit content to your online social accounts.
please do not take advantage of your guessing power.
It is unethical and offense and could put you behind the bars.
How to make your password more difficult to crack?
just assume, your password is ‘Olivia2608’ which consists of your name and date of birth 26-Aug-XXXX, make it bit difficult…
e. Make Password Hard to Remember for Others
My recommendation is to don’t just use names, dates or numbers, but instead, you can form a sentence and make encryption version of password from that…
Can you believe it? Below was one of my passwords then.
An encryption form of a sentence from my personal interests and favorites. I know it has regular symbols but… It was long ago.
Can you remember it by seeing at just once or twice… Only if someone gifted with super memory power could. Because it is related to me, my personal. You could make one like this too…
You don’t need to know complex mathematical algorithms to make your own encrypted password, just do it on your own way so you can easily remember…
f. Two-Factor Authentication
Just like OTP. But remember, the phone number and email you use for two-factor authentication can be accessed by only you.
2. Complex Answering to Security Questions
Most of the Internet users don’t give much attention to the security question of their social accounts.
But, what if someone knows your answers???
They can log into your social accounts by using the ‘forgot password’ option. They can change your password, account recovery options and use your account for illegal activities.
Or, even they use your account to spread abusive, explicit and hatred around the world.
Or, they could disrupt your privacy and may blackmail you.
So, what can you do to secure your social accounts?
Use your own security question if there is a provision to enter your own question.
Do you think that no one can guess answers for your security questions?
You can’t change your first school name, first pet name, mother’s maiden name or your birth city…
Instead, you can make them a bit difficult to answer.
3. Regulate Third-Party Services
We all get a bit lazy while signing up to an online account and just hit buttons blindly…
Sign up with Google, Sign up with Facebook, Sign up with Twitter. Etc., are the most common option you’ll while signing up for an online service or account.
Instead, take time, choose ‘sign up with email’ and fill the form yourself, so the third parties can’t access your social accounts and personal details.
“Information collected by third-parties is subject to their own data privacy and protection policies, not ours.” your social account’s data and privacy policies read like this or even mean it.
Have you already give permissions to third-party services to access your personal information? Just go the account privacy & security settings and revoke unnecessary apps permissions.
How to revoke/remove third-party services from your social accounts? don’t worry, find out here…
4. Think Twice Before Installing Free Apps
It is said “If you don’t pay for the product, then you are the product” it makes clear that they collect your email id, phone number, other online identities, and demographic information and will be sold for corporate companies.
5. Do Not Install Apps From Untrusted Sources
This is a crucial thing about security, also the first step you could do to stay safe online and protect your data. Untrusted developers may create apps with malicious code or modify and add tracker and spyware to the original apps they hosted on their websites or their websites may contain dangerous viruses.
Recently, I got to know about one of my friends of a friend has been captured by a spying social networking app and sadly he got to pay for it.
So, it is always recommended to download and install official apps by trusted sources only to stay safe online.
6. Limit Application Permissions to Resources
If you’re using a smartphone, you obviously know about app permissions, rite?
App with unnecessary permissions may commit to data and identity theft. They may steal your personal details and make cash with third-parties to target you with intrusive promotions.
Just find apps or app permissions in system settings of smartphones and revoke all unwanted app permissions to your resources.
Hardening security of your online accounts, privacy, and personal data is your concern and only yours’. If someone says they can do it for you, don’t just blindly trust them. We’ve been seen some so-called anti-virus and internet security apps secretly stealing public data and ditched out of Google Play Store.
So, take time to make your self safe on the Internet. If you’re a parent of an active online teen, it is your concern too to make sure your kids follow the password hardening tips and Internet safety rules.