We all love our modern comforts. Our smartphones, our social profiles, online dating, banking and interacting. However, if you’re not careful, these innovations can land you in trouble. Luckily, we’re here to help. Here are the top 20 tech tips that will keep you safe in the modern world.
20 – Uber safety
Online taxi services like Uber have revolutionised the way we travel, but being a passenger in someone else’s car can be a dangerous business. If you’re travelling alone in a taxi, make sure you tell someone where you’re going and roughly how long you’ll be. Uber has an option to do this as part of their app. Your friend can even track your journey by GPS. Make sure you make use of this.
19 – Update your software
I get it. It’s annoying when you’re doing something important on your computer, then suddenly it freezes and locks you out as it needs to do an update. It’s annoying, but necessary. Software firms issue regular updates as a way to guard against the latest malware, viruses and other online nasties. So make sure you download all your software updates, on your smartphone as well as your computer. Just go have a cup of tea or something.
18 – Know who your ‘friends’ are
It’s fun to play social media like a numbers game, to try and have the most number of online friends as possible. However, some people have bad intentions on social media. They use it for bullying, stealing information, or worse. Make sure the people who are your friends on social media are actually your friends. If in doubt, check them out. Use Google’s reverse image search tool on their photo.
If Google finds their photo being used under someone else’s name, they’re trying to disguise themselves for some reason. Bad news.
1 7 – Email spam
It used to be easy to spot a spam email. They had poor grammar, sloppy spelling, sent from addresses that were clearly bogus. Recently, spammers have smarted up their act and it’s more difficult to tell real from fake. You need to be on your guard. Follow this tech tip.
Real companies will use your name in their emails to you, so if an email begins with greetings like ‘dear member’ or ‘dear customer’ it’s likely to be a phishing exercise.
Don’t click on any links, and delete it. If you are still curious whether it’s real, still don’t click on any links. Write the full web address of the company into your browser, sign into your account and go from there.
16 – Disable your webcam
Hackers like to use your computer’s webcam to spy on you and your family. They use email spam to install malware on your computer that gives them control of your webcam. They can turn it on when they want, and see what you’re up to. As well as being on your guard for email spam, and keeping your software and firewall updated, it’s a good idea to disable your webcam when you’re not using it. A small piece of paper and some sticky tape should do the job.
15 – Hotel credit card scam
If you’ve just checked into a hotel and entered your room for the first time, and someone calls saying they’re from reception and they need your credit card number again, politely decline and hang up. This is a known scam, and you’d be surprised how many people fall for it. It’s not the front desk calling, it’s a criminal who has asked to be put through to your room, hoping that you’ll tell him your credit card number. Better to go down to the front desk, and if there’s a problem, sort it out in person.
14 – Remote access
You wouldn’t give a stranger the keys to your car or house, don’t give them the keys to your computer either. Scammers have been known to phone you up claiming to be from your internet service provider, saying there’s a problem. They ask you to log on to a website and allow them access to your machine, so they can ‘fix it’. Once you give them access, they install malware that harvests your personal information, or drains your bank account, or something equally as nasty.
Never allow anyone remote access to your computer. If in doubt, take your computer to a reputable repair centre and get a professional to look at it.
13 – How to spot an ATM scam
Criminals target ATMs as a way to get your information, or your money. If the keypad is loose, or spongy to touch, it may have been lifted and replaced by a criminal device. If there are stickers on the ATM which are misprinted or messily stuck on, they could be covering a camera that wants to see your PIN. Finally, if the card slot is loose, or bulkier than normal, it could’ve been replaced by a criminal device. Be on your guard for clues that your ATM has been tampered with. And if in doubt, walk away.
12 – Spell out your email
Here’s another tech tip. Unscrupulous people scan public websites looking for email addresses they can spam. If you need to write your email address in a social media post, or on a public forum, replace the ‘at sign’ with the word at. Also replace the ‘dot’ with with word dot. So firstname.lastname@example.org becomes be dot amazed at email dot com. No one likes to receive spam emails, this is a proven way that helps avoid them.
11 – USBe careful
If someone gives you a USB memory stick to plug into your computer for any reason, be careful. USB sticks can carry malware and viruses that affect your device. They can also fry your computer instantly.
The same goes for USB charging cables . It’s possible for criminals to transmit malware onto your phone when you charge it at a public power point using a USB data cable. To eliminate this possibility, when charging your phone in public, use a charge-only USB cable.
10 – Car keys alarm
Some car keys have a panic button on them, which sets your car alarm off if you are in trouble and need to alert people. If you park your car near your house, keep your car keys on your bedside table at night. In the event of a home invasion, you can press your panic button and let your neighbors know you’re in danger. It’ll also spook whoever is trying to rob you, and they’ll probably flee.
9 – Online dating
With the advent of Tinder and other dating apps, people are meeting more strangers than ever before. If you’re meeting someone you have only met before online, you should do a few things first. Verify as much information about your online date before you meet them.
Always tell someone where you’re going, and meet in a public place. Finally, if you’re a girl, wear high heels, as they’re an effective weapon if the worst happens. Take them off before trying to run away and grab the body of the shoe with the heel protruding. They can be used as a weapon with a hammer fist motion.
8 – Secure your security questions
When you buy something online, you’re often asked to answer a question which secures your account. It’s usually your mother’s maiden name, first pet’s name, something like that. It’s a good idea to make up the answers to these questions, rather than give the real ones.
With all the info you share on social media, it could be pretty easy for some corrupt person to find out your mother’s maiden name, or frisky err… your first pet turtle’s name.
7 – Location, location
You’re away for the night in a 5 star hotel. You want to tell the world! Be careful though. If you shout from the rooftops on social media that you’re 200 miles away from home and your house is empty for the night, it could be a signal to robbers who scour the web for this kind of thing.
There have been multiple celebrities who have been robbed this way. Likewise, on your sat nav, set your home address to somewhere near where you live, not your actual home address. If your car gets stolen, you don’t want the thieves finding out where your house is too.
6 – Prescription drugs
If you have prescription drugs in your house, make sure they’re always locked away somewhere safe. You don’t know what peculiar addictions visitors to your house may have. If your medicines get stolen, it can lead to medical problems for you, and even more problems for them.
5 – Sharing work
It’s when social networking leads to social not-working. You need to be careful about what you share on your social network and how it relates to your job. If you’ve called in sick at work in the morning, posting a picture of you from last night, knocking back shots at the bar, may not be a good idea.
Likewise, if any of your colleagues are your friends online, don’t vent your controversial political opinions that may jeopardize your job or talk about your awful boss. When someone tells her what you said, she won’t be pleased. Most companies have a social networking policy which you’re automatically signed up to as part of your contract. Make sure you check it out, and stay on the right side of the line.
4 – You’re being watched
Wherever you go, it’s likely you’re being watched. Sometimes it’s on purpose, with CCTV cameras for example. Other times it’s by accident, you’re sunbathing in the background while a guy takes a photo of his girlfriend at the beach.
With inventions like Google Glass, people could be zooming in on you from their glasses and you would never even know it. So be careful, cover up your PIN when you’re at the ATM. If you’re out with someone you shouldn’t be, take care. There’s nowhere to hide anymore.
3 – Stay secure online
Free public wifi is so convenient isn’t it? Super fast reception at the restaurant, the airport, on the subway. It helps you stay in touch and saves your data allowance. However, you need to be careful what you do on public wifi networks. It’s possible that these networks may have been hacked, and criminals could be looking to steal your information.
On public wifi, keep your surfing simple. News websites are fine, so are top 10 videos on Youtube. Stay away from your online bank account. Also, if you’re entering personal information into a website, make sure the address begins with HTTPS , not HTTP. HTTPS means the connection is secure and away from the prying eyes of cyber criminals.
2 – Safe selling
Selling your stuff online is fun and a good source of extra cash, but if the sale requires meeting up in person, be on your guard. Verify exactly who you’re meeting, and meet in a public place where there are people around. Some cities and towns have ‘safe trade stations’ in police stations, where you can meet and do the exchange in total safety.
1 – Perfect your password
You need a password for everything online these days, but so many people use the same password for all their online accounts, or they use something too simple like ‘password’ or their name. They’re leaving themselves wide open to their accounts being hacked.
Here’s a formula to create a perfect password. Start with a word at least 8 letters long. Capitalise at least 1 letter, the first letter of each syllable is good. Replace a letter with a number, for example change an ’z to a 2. Replace another letter with a symbol, like ‘at’ or a question mark. Finally tailor this password to every site you use by adding the first 3 letters of the site to the end of the password.
So that concludes the top 20 tech tips that will keep you safe in the modern world. What tech tips did you think were the most useful? Do you have any of your own? Leave us a comment to let us know. Thank you for reading.