There seems to be a recent influx of scamming and hacking in the last year. It's important to know how to take the necessary steps to ensure your personal and financial safety. Here are a few things to consider:
Understanding how your data acts:
Whether we are talking about password strength or clicking on a bad link, there can be many factors that come into play when looking out for yourself on the internet - and the first step is understanding what is fair play and not-so fair play. Generally speaking, when you enter personal data (SSN, Credit card info, Address, Phone number, Email, Etc...) online, you run the risk of someone snooping on that data. When you enter data onto someones website your concern should be less on that someone is watching you type in the information or that someone has hacked your computer and is watching your every move - And more on where the data goes when you hit that submit button.
What I mean is it's actually very unlikely that someone has full control of your system and can see everything - Although don't discount it it can be done, but trust me you'd probably know because it's usually coupled by a threat or ransom - hence ransomware. These people will tend to lie and say they do actually have full control and will threaten you. However - It's more likely that the host of that data (which could be your web browser if it holds onto your passwords for you) or the site you visited is attacked and scraped for data. When someone "hacks" you they more likely got some data from you and can trace it to your email and they send a sort of ransomware attack saying
*Here's your address pay me or ill kill you, or
*Here is your password pay me in BitCoin or I will release all your "webcam porn to Youtube for the world to see".
What should I do if I get attacked? First and foremost change your passwords and get them off your browser. Check out this WikiHow Guide for that. I would also recommend using a password container. Think of it as a virtual lock-box that stores all your passwords with 1 master password. There are a bunch of options here and many companies. OneLogin is a good one. Mozilla has a great container manager integrated into the browser called Firefox Multi-Account Containers. These are great tools to equip if you are concerned about your security. If you want to go old-school and just use a strong password - You may be surprised how fast a computer can brute-force them nowadays... You can always check the strength using www.howsecureismypassword.net/ - This will tell you how fast a computer could crack your password, and you don't submit your password to it! So no data storage and nothing to worry about.
Is my phone secure?
On another note mobile security is also important and the biggest thing you can do to make an impact is just don't use unsecured wifi networks. They can easily be snooped and scraped for data. Although, in the U.S A lot of bigger companies such as Starbucks, and Walmart have implemented a lot better security over the years, I would still maybe stay away, at least until they decide to monitor them at least.