For most of us, being online is essential and we rely on it for so much — from email to banking to getting directions. But this ease of access and online comfortability isn’t always a good thing. It can lead to carelessness when it comes to protecting our online privacy. We’ve compiled a list of some of the easiest actions you can take toward keeping your private information private.
1.Let’s talk passwords.
We talk about this one a lot, but that’s because it’s so important! Your passwords are the first in the line of defense when it comes to accessing your online personal information. We know they can be annoying when you’re in a hurry and that it’s hard to remember so many of them. But you need them! Always use strong passwords that use both upper and lower case, numbers and characters and a symbol or punctuation mark. And never use something personal (like your name, birthday, family names, etc.)
Read more about password management on our blog.
If you are constantly having to change your password because you keep forgetting it, you might want to consider getting a password manager to help you out!
2. Antivirus. Have it. Use it.
Antivirus Software is incredibly important. While, yes, it is not 100% fail-safe, it does catch most of what you don’t want. Microsoft states unprotected computers are 5.5 times more likely to be infected than those that run real-time antivirus protection.
You probably already have it, but it’s important to make sure you are keeping it updated and have it scan automatically on a regular basis.
3. Be wary of public wifi.
If you are using an unsecured network, which, you probably have and will do at some point, tread cautiously! Avoid sites that deal with personal or sensitive information (like banking). In a public space that only offers unsecured wifi? Consider using a hotspot or a VPN solution.
4. Is the site HTTPS secure?
A good way to protect your information is by only using secure, trusted sites. These will be easy to detect because you’ll see “https://” instead of just “http://”. You’ll also see a lock with the word “Secure” next to it. If you are on a site that does not have that, just don’t enter any personal information.
5. Update, update, update!
The updates are for a reason, so don’t skip or delay them. This goes for your operating system, apps, web browsers and as mentioned before, antivirus software. These systems have built-in security that can prevent cyber attacks, and since malware is always changing, the updates are there to keep up!
6. Email Safety 101.
Phishing attacks are incredibly common, so it’s vital you know what to look out for!
Be sure to read our blog to find out more on phishing scams.
First, check the email address. If you don’t recognize it, you shouldn’t open it. However, phishing can also occur from an email address you do recognize! If it is from someone you know, double check the address is an exact match. Next, check to see if there are any spelling mistakes. Scammers will use errors to get past spam detectors since mistakes seem more human. If the link or attachment seems just a little bit suspicious, don’t open it! Last, verify with the person if you are still unsure. And never open pdf attachments that end in “.exe”.
7. Consider adding a browser extension.
There are some great browser extensions that add another element of defense to your information. Before you install one be sure to do your research and read reviews. We recommend Privacy Badger for preventing cookies and tracking Ad Block Plus for blocking pop-ups and banner ads. It will also stop you from going on a site that is known for hosting malware domains.
8. Don’t forget about your phone!
Maybe you’re super careful when it comes to keeping your private information secure on your computer or laptop, but what about your phone? Losing or getting your phone stolen sucks, but it can escalate to really bad if you do not password protect your device (28% of people admitted to not using a screen lock or other privacy feature). Most of us use our phones more than anything, so more than likely you have a lot of stuff you don’t want thieves or hackers to find just sitting on your device. To further protect your information you should also enable tracking and data wipe. Lastly, always, always, always update your apps and operating system! These updates keep your phone secure and safe and reduce the risk of cyber attacks.
10. Be mindful.
Just always remember to be careful where you put your personal information. Even putting too much on your social media can help hackers access it. Be careful with what you show publicly on your social accounts and blogs. And consistently review what you have out there and what is showing publicly.
Hopefully, these tips will help you with keeping your information safe and secure. And remember, if you need help or have any questions, we are here to help you out! Contact us or schedule a service call today.