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Protecting your data

Career in Holland



With many of us now working mostly (and often completely) remotely, services like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams have seen users increase nearly exponentially. Using these services sounds like it is all fun and games, but beware. The fact that our online presence has become an even larger part of our lives brings along quite some dangers. Most prominently, people with evil intent working their ways into our accounts and devices to use our data for their malicious purposes.

Fear not, dear Zoomer! Here are some of the most common problems found with online personal security, and some tips you can use to protect yourself.

Reusing passwords

Fact: According to Google in 2019, almost two-thirds of people reuse their passwords for different accounts.

Danger: If a breach occurs in one of the companies associated with an account you have, hackers have your email address and at least one password. They can then search for other websites where your email address has been used, and attempt to use the password they learned.

Solution: Use a password generator and manager (like LastPass). This solves the problem of having to think of a new (probably weak) password yourself, and the problem of you having to remember all those passwords.

Using public WIFI connections

Fact: If you use a public WIFI connection, it is peanuts for anyone with even the slightest of hacking skills to see exactly what you are doing. 

Danger: People may see your sensitive information, such as the photos and pictures you look at, the websites you visit, and the passwords you enter. This not only potentially gives them access to your accounts, it may help them to profile you and follow you elsewhere.

Solution: Use a VPN (like NordVPN), this functions as a tunnel that covers up your activity. This way, someone with malicious intentions can only see that you are connected to the public WIFI network, but they cannot see what you are doing.

Keep your email (address) yours

Fact: Since the start of the pandemic, phishing attempts have surged. No surprise, with fewer in-person meetings, we are all using our email more to communicate.

Danger: If you become the victim of a phishing attempt, a hacker can use your email for whatever they want. They can use it to send spam, causing your email to be listed as “unsafe” in other people’s organisations and networks, or they can use it to dig deeper into your personal online presence.

Solution: Always enable two-factor authentication, as this makes getting into your email with just the address and password more difficult. Also, frequently change your password.

For the best results, combine all three tips wherever and whenever you can. Even if you use a password generator, change your passwords every few months. Why? Just in case somebody managed to get in. There are of course more tips to improve your security, but these three are the most convenient methods to secure yourself online with (quite) minimal effort.

There are several podcasts on the topic of (personal) security and hacking. No worries, these don’t teach you how to hack. They tell the stories of hacks, breaches, and much more, to help you understand the dynamics of the (criminal) digital world.

  1. Darknet Diaries
  2. Malicious Life
  3. CPRadio
  4. The Industrial Security Podcast (for industrial security, which is vastly different from personal)
  5. Hackable

There are also two podcasts that, rather than explain the malicious side of the internet, explain how the internet and computers work and have developed over the years.

  1. The History of Computing
  2. Command Line Heroes

Last, but not least, there is a podcast about the human side of hacking. The social engineering that goes into most phishing attempts and hacks these days is very, very sophisticated: Hacking Humans will teach you all about it.

Disclaimer: Nuffic is not affiliated, associated, authorised, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with any of the services, companies, and podcasts mentioned in this article. This article has been written out of Nuffic’s own initiative. 

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