The first time you receive a message, a lot of the time you don’t realize what it is, says Chris Lutz, founder of the security consultancy company Cyber Security Insights.
But what if you do, and you’re not sure if the message is legitimate?
“A good way to be safe is to send messages as small as possible,” Lutz says.
“The longer you wait, the greater the chance of getting a false message, and then the more likely you are to get a compromised device or data.”
Lutz recommends setting up a virtual private network (VPN), an online service that gives you a virtual connection between your computer and your router, and having a secure VPN connection with a friend.
“Using VPNs to protect your private data and to mask your IP address is a great way to prevent the virus from reaching your account,” he says.
Lutz also recommends using a password manager like LastPass to keep track of all your passwords.
“If you have the same password for several accounts, you can create multiple passwords for each one,” he explains.
If you don’s have the option to protect yourself, there are some ways to keep yourself safe from hackers.
If someone has already broken into your account, it’s not the end of the world.
“You can change passwords or change the passwords for all your other accounts to use a different one,” says Lutz.
“If you change your password, you may also have to change your email address.
You should also change the password for all the websites and apps that you use on a daily basis, and change the username and password for your Twitter account.”
If you want to protect the personal information of your family members or friends, you might consider setting up an email account that is encrypted and has a password.
“There are some things you can do that may be considered a breach of your privacy and your family’s privacy,” says Gary Hsieh, director of security solutions for the cybersecurity firm Gartner.
“However, if your family member or friend is already using a VPN or is not using it at all, they should have a separate account that has no passwords.”
Hsieh also recommends having a virtual safe house that is protected by a virtual network, like one you set up yourself.
“A virtual safehouse may be able to help you prevent a virus from infecting your personal information, but it is still important to set up a separate encrypted network for your family or friends,” he adds.
For more tips and tricks to protect against a data breach, check out these guides from the experts.