How to Stay Ahead of Online Threats
Nearly everyone uses smartphones, tablets, laptops or a PC on a daily basis. And digital thieves and hackers know this. Cyber criminals have become much more aggressive in their attempts to steal money, property and your personal identity. Your digital security should be much more sophisticated than simple password protection. Your financial security, and even your life, may depend on it.
Don’t Be Lazy with Passwords
Most people know digital security starts with creation of a password. But the password must be effective. Do not give digital thieves a master key to your bank accounts and brokerage accounts by using your pet’s or children’s names or anything else easily found on social media, and never use the same password for more than one site. You should also make sure that you use a separate password to protect others from accessing your home Wi-Fi router.
The task of remembering a never-ending list of passwords can be difficult. Even so, you shouldn’t write down passwords for work, bank accounts, online shopping sites or other vital accounts. Instead, consider using a password manager, which will help store many passwords with one master password. A simple internet search will help you find a secure password manager.
Be Smart on Social Media
As fun as sharing can be, posting upcoming vacation or dinner plans on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, can alert criminals to an empty house. Post pictures of your fun activities after you get home. You should also check your privacy settings on these sites to ensure your profile is protected, and not open for viewing by just anyone. Also, be aware of “location services” on your mobile devices and social media that allow anyone viewing this data to know where you are.
Keep your contact list and friend list manageable, edit your list regularly, and ignore and block friend and chat requests from strangers. Adults, as well as children and teenagers, can be “catfished” or lured into relationships and scammed by people creating fictional online accounts or using a stolen identity. Guard against these scams by relying on some age-old advice: Do not talk to strangers.
Do you like chatting with family or friends using the webcam on your laptop? Great. But digital spies can hack into that two-way video device. For safety, cover your webcam with tape during times that you do not intend to actively use your video conferencing.
Protect Your Hard Drive and Use Two-Step Identification
Protecting your computer must now go beyond protecting your devices with a high-quality antivirus software program and passwords. While these programs and passwords go a long way in protecting your data, digital thieves will find it quite easy to access your information if you do not encrypt your device or computer. The encryption process scrambles data into a code that protects important information found or transmitted online. While many devices and PCs come with automatic encryption, security settings should be reviewed. Encryption tips and how-to instructions can be found with a simple online search.
Finally, many financial institutions employ biometric authentication, such as a fingerprint to access your account or two-factor authentication, such as having a code sent to your device that must be used in addition to your password to access your account. While these methods may seem time-consuming, they aim to be easy to use – and provide you with an extra layer of security when accessing your accounts.
You cannot be too cautious. I urge you to take advantage of all the digital security measures available to protect your identity and, in turn, your personal and financial security. Taking the time to ensure your digital security will make you far less vulnerable to digital evildoers.