Avoiding Unethical Hackers, Scammers and Spammers Part 1:
This is just not something that can be taken care of at one go because new methods of doing these things are being developed at every slightest chance even as I try to make this post cover most of the rudiments that you should note to keep these hackers away from intruding on your privacy and cheating you in the process.
Just few days ago, I received a message on Facebook where someone asked me to follow a link to view some unknown video of me (that I probably wasn’t meant to have seen before) but immediately I saw the link I already knew it’s fake and felt I should expose this to my precious readers so that none of us will ever fall victim by their cheap tricks. See the screenshot of what it looked like below:
Let’s take a look at some of the ways we can avoid falling into their traps:
1. Be careful of Redirects : Any link that opens in an app, normally, shouldn’t request further login verification for that app when it takes you to another different website other than the one that is original to the app.
See an example below (after I clicked on the link someone sent to me on Facebook messenger) :
So a link that is supposed to take me to a different website was asking me to login to Facebook and especially with a background that is not like original Facebook as you can see in the photo above. Again, even if it wasn’t taking me out of Facebook, normally, one shouldn’t have to login again in an inbuilt app browser when you’re already logged on except it has to do with change of passwords or other security features where reentering your password may be required (*not to login manually, again*) but you can imagine…just to watch an ordinary video that would even start playing on its own sometimes on Facebook app and login is required? No, that’s a red alert! Take note, please.
2. Do Not Allow Supposed Notifications from Redirects That Loads Several Ads at A Time: Sometimes these requests to allow notifications are not actually what they seem; you could be allowing a malicious program to run without even realizing it before, during and after. In fact, there have been reports that some of these hackers could gain access to your phone just by your receipt of certain .gif image via WhatsApp… I was as shocked as you now probably are on reading that line and that leads us to the next precautionary measure.
3. Goto Settings, Change Some Privacy Values: Do not set media or files to auto-download; review the senders and the incoming file before you download. This may not be a big deal for those who are bent on hacking your phone but it’s a good add-on for your protection. Also, under privacy, make out time to at least skim through privacy policies to know what information the website or establishment is taking from you, what they’re used for and whether you feel you can manage it well before you accept.
4. Stop Giving Out Your Details to Insecure or Unscrupulous sites: Top of the list of sites you should be very mindful of releasing your details to are porn sites. Yes! I mean how do you expect anyone who is not ashamed to show their body to care for your safety and privacy that much? They earn a living by being shameless so why do you think they would be so ethical not to hack you stuff or let others to? I won’t say much on this one but likewise other sites that you may suspect foulplay or that are of questionable moral and legal statuses.
5. Beware of Get Rich Quick Schemes: Nothing good comes easy. Think twice,thrice and even more if it sounds “too good be true”. They know you’d be interested and so they’ve laid a bait…be careful, don’t be greedy!
6. Do Not Use Simple Passwords: for your social media accounts, PC’s or devices, networks and any serious business or personal accounts, please, avoid using things like your birth date, anniversary date, phone number or things that hackers could easily guess about you; if you must use such things as your password, endeavor to add some little but yet, strong twist to them to make it harder for anyone to decipher. Do not use phrases or words you constantly joke about or that people might have remarked you for.
7. Never Use The Same Password for All Your Logins: yes, it can give a hard time to remember all of those recommendable complex passwords but you can make it easier by forming a password pattern known by you alone. Do not use one password espcially for your financial accounts or email address linked to your bank(s). If you use a Password manager, make sure that the software is not a hacking tool itself. You can also use two-step verification whereby a code is sent to you before you enter your password to login and vice versa as the case may be.
8. Mind Whom You Give Your Personal Devices: Not everyone should handle your phone or personal devices and be sure to have a cogent reason when sharing your password with someone because ordinarily you’re not even supposed to do that but when you consider that one might need a confidant in case anything goes wrong in order to aid investigations and facilitate an SOS, you could just leave a clue for that person you feel you can trust or let them know what they should know in time so that they don’t need to use your password in the first place to find out; whichever you feel is the best approach for you.
9. Make Sure Your Recovery Account Has The Strongest Password and “Out of The Box” Answers to Security Questions: Exactly as you read it, your recovery email should have the strongest password, your recovery phone number should be kept safe as much as possible and you should not use exact or common answers to your security questions. For instance, if your security question is “what is your father’s surname?” You can set the answer to be “Baboon4cku” or *something unrelated to the question* instead of the real answer or if you must use the real answer, endeavor to add something extra to it like some set of codes or so to make it strong but make sure it is still something you can remember or just write them down and keep them somewhere safe and private. In case you lose your recovery phone or email, retrieve them ASAP or change the settings from your account to other phone number and/or email.
10. Do not use all your Credit/Debit Cards for Online Purchase: Please, set aside one credit or debit card for all your online transactions and if possible, only put money there when you want to use it or don’t leave too much money there at a time although some banks have limits for Online card transactions per day and per month but not all banks does exactly same whereas some cards have higher limits. Also, be careful of sites where you want to make payment; it should be a secure site to start with which you can spot by the padlock sign at the top left side of the address bar in your browser and also confirm the authenticity of the site, making sure that you typed the URL correctly. Use a trusted Browser like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
11. Mind Your Wireless Connections (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Hotspot) : These are one of the easiest ways a hacker can gain access to your data if you always leave them turned on when you’re not actively using them. Apart from that, you should be careful of devices that you allow to auto-connect to yours; in short, it would be better to always reconnect them when needed than setting it to auto-connect and to remotely control your device. Clear all old connections, format or file-shred any gadgets you want to sell before giving them away and 12. Change Your Passwords Often: not just for WiFi but every other devices and connections. Log out of all accounts when you’re not ready for them and avoid logging in from third party devices; if you have to, be sure not to save your passwords on them and leave no traces in the cache, cookies and history to avoid making your password available through a back button or tactical inquest by potential hackers seeking data transferred by the system when you were logged on.
13. Be Careful of What You Share On Social Media: well, if they’re going to hack your account at all cost, don’t make it cheap for them.
14. Uninstall, Backup and Updates: Remove stale apps from your system and backup your files regularly or routinely to have something to fall back on in case of virus attacks or the hackers messing with your data. Also learn about updates and keep your devices up to date. In as much as it is tradition to recommend automatic updates, if you’re advanced enough, I think you should review these patches before installing them to ensure that they would work well with your device and that the providers of such updates had not been hijacked and so on. It is better to avoid Autorun of Softwares or Scripts.
15. Avoid Too Much of Free Things: it’s always better to pay for something good than to always look out for free stuffs which could be a phishing trap. Let good things cost you money, it’s not bad to appreciate. Don’t share personal data on public or otherwise, free WiFi.
16. Be Wary of Data Transfers at Disreputable Sites, Suspicious Email and Cloud Storage: know where you make your downloads and uploads to prevent potential harm to your device or unencrypted storing of your personal data in the “cloud”.
17. Avoid Rooting Your Device If You’re Not An Expert Developer: This is as simple as it is, if you don’t understand it, perhaps, don’t just try it yet cos you’re not an expert and doing so will leave your device so vulnerable to hazards that will ordinarily won’t happen to it if it were left the way the manufacturer set it up with Guarantee/Warranty.
18. Don’t Be In A Hurry to Click On Links : Hover over links to see their actual URLs to see if they are set to take you to the intended site. Check whether emails are coming from the expected sender by viewing the original email before you proceed. Contact the (verified) supposed sender(s) to be sure that they actually did send the links to you.
19. Avoid Plugins that You Don’t Trust: Don’t charge your devices with just any USB port you see and don’t plug things to your devices anyhow.
20. Be in the Know and Look out for Suspicious or Unusual Presentations: Check for misspellings, poor grammar, dubious domain naming and e-mail addresses that appear fraudulent. Beware of websites that have been reported to be having some security issues or a DDoS (distributed denial of Service) attack recently or even constantly.
Well, there are many other ways we can avoid falling victim to these hackers, scammers and spammers including: not calling back unknown numbers; if they are serious, they will call back right? And maybe we shouldn’t pick them in the first place or just trust our instincts, sometimes. Use of VPN (Virtual Private Network), Antivirus, Anti-Spyware/Malware, Firmware, Firewalls and some other trusted utility/security softwares. Enabling Remote Location and Device Wiping to be able to recover your device or counter unauthorised access to your data from a stolen device. Etc
Please, leave your thoughts in the comment section below to suggest ways we can stay safe regarding this issue. Thanks.