When it comes to protecting your Microsoft, Google, and Apple accounts, you need to make sure you set up the best protection. These accounts not only give you access to email, cloud storing, and your password list. They are also part of your device logins as many of you integrate these accounts into your gadgets to allow you to synchronize information between your computers, smartphones and tablets. Also, these accounts hold a great deal of your personal information and payment methods that you don't want to wind up in the hand of cybercriminals. These accounts are web-based, which means that if someone got ahold of your account information they could access your data from anywhere in the world. Check out my tips to protect these important online accounts to better safeguard your information.
1. Create strong passwords and don't forget those security questions. Tech companies are getting better at requiring strong passwords when you set up a new account. Apple has probably one of the best systems in place making you use a password that has at least eight characters, with a combination of upper and lowercase letters. You also have to have one number and a special character such as exclamation marks and an asterisks. Most web based accounts also make you set up a security question in case you need to reset your password, but also to prevent anyone from just resetting your password. When you set up your security question, make sure to get into the habit of becoming a cyber liar, and don't choose the correct answers for your accounts. Most of the personal information that is asked when you set up your security question is stuff you've already shared on social media. Instead, think of security question answers that have no ties to your personal life (or anyone in your family for that matter).
2. Secure your accounts with Two Factor Authentication. Two-factor authentication is added protection for your web-based accounts. Your Google, Apple, Microsoft account remember which of your tech devices you've logged on from. Adding two-factor authentication tells your accounts that if you (or someone else) logs into your account from a new device, to send you an email or a text message asking you to enter a code to confirm your identity.
3. Avoid online scams designed to trick you into giving out your account details. As I've always stated, 99% of Cybercrimes require user interaction, which means as long as you safeguard your account login settings, you can stay safe from criminals getting access to your accounts. Phishing schemes are the most common way hackers get access to your information. They can come in the form of email, text, and even phone calls. The idea of phishing is a scammer will act as if they are from a trusted company such as Microsoft, Apple, or Google. They will attempt to deceive you by pretending there is a problem with your account and they need your login credentials to fix it. Never hand out your account details if someone requests them.
4. Keep your login information current. You can set up several email accounts as logins to your accounts, but the best practice is to only use one email as a login to your accounts. If you have a list of emails that you use as a login, make sure you removed email addresses you no longer use. Sometime criminals will get your old emails off the dark web or from data breaches and use this information to log in to your accounts.
5. Use a password manager. Password managers help you keep all of your passwords in one location and can be set up to automatically log you into your online accounts. They can also keep your Google, Apple, and Microsoft account safe as password managers have the ability to see if your current password has been leaked onto the dark web. If one of your passwords has been leaked on the web, your password manager will notify you so you can change it. Most popular web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Opera have password managers. If you don't want to save your password in a browser, check out LastPass (www.lastpass.com)
Your Google, Apple, and Microsoft accounts are great when it comes to allowing you to access data from wherever you are. These accounts are vulnerable so make sure you'e keeping up to date with what you need to do to boost your security and keeping safe from hacking and phishing scams.
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