Protect Yourself with Cybersecurity

May 26, 2021

Does it feel like your email inbox is being bombarded with more and more junk mail? Do you find yourself wondering which emails are safe to open and which are not?  Do you feel like it is becoming harder and harder to remember passwords? Well, you’re not alone!  

 

Below are five tips to help you navigate all of these questions:

 

1-   Beware of eMail Impostors

 

It is so important to beware of phishing emails. Scammers love to send emails with a “Click Here” link that looks like it just possibly might be legitimate. Clicking on these links can install malware on your device, capture your email and passwords or just make you vulnerable to future scams. No matter how legitimate the email or who it is from, never share your username or password via email. When in doubt at all, delete the email.

 

If the email in question is related to your financial institution or a vendor where you do business, go directly to their website and log in to your account there. If you need to take any action, it will appear there.

 

2-   Use Strong Passwords

 

Keeping track of all your passwords is not an easy task. I’m sure it feels like just when you start to remember all your passwords it’s time to change them again. Keeping your passwords secure and up to date is so crucial. It is recommended that you use at least 8 characters (and 12 is better!) and a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Your passwords should be unique to each account. Don’t reuse the same password lots of places!

 

Keeping track of all these different passwords is much easier with a password manager. While Google offers to save your passwords, these separate apps help you create strong passwords and stored them in one secure place across all your devices. You will only be required to remember the master password to the password manager. The most popular ones also have family plans so you can share with a spouse or other family members for peace of mind.

 

Take a look at these popular choices:

 

3-   Keep Your Software Up-to-Date

 

Do you have a tendency to ignore alerts when it is time to update your software programs? Keeping your security and malware software up to date is crucial in protecting yourself. Setting your system to automatic updates is easy and you can set this as your default. Some of the most common computer attacks are done through outdated versions of Java and Flash. Remember to keep your phone up to date too.

 

Backing up your computer to an external hard drive or CLOUD storage is also important. If your computer does get hacked or taken hostage, as recently happened to Colonial Pipeline, you will have a version to fall back on. With an external hard drive, you are able to set a secure password for an added level of security. If you prefer automatic CLOUD storage, you might take a look at Microsoft OneDrive , Dropbox or Blackblaze. These services can automatically back up your content. Here you are relying more on their security, and you access your files through internet access.

 

4-   Free Does Not Mean Safe

 

I’m sure we have all used “Free Wi-Fi” at times, perhaps enjoying that Chai Latte at Starbucks.   It is important to know, though, that this type of connection is not secure. Unsecured wireless access is easy to intercept and the person at the next table could be “listening in” on your activity, noting personal information and typed passwords.  It is best to either use your personal hotspot via your phone or subscribe to a paid hotspot provider. If you are going to access “Free WI-FI” be sure not to log onto personal banking, credit card, or investment accounts.

 

5-   Manage Your Social Media Presence

 

Most of us are on social media and we blithely accept the terms and conditions of these services in a pop-up box. To protect yourself a bit, be cautious when accepting new friend requests.  Lately, scammers are creating fake accounts, set up to connect to your profile and collect personal details about you. Try to avoid revealing personal information such as phone numbers, home address and any personal information though social media.

 

Additionally, while most applications have their own “Privacy Policies” it is also important that you take the time to review your personal settings. You may want to consider turning off your location tracker for each application and denying access to your contacts, especially on your phone. Being aware of your personal settings to add another level of security.

 

Technology keeps making our life more and more convenient, but there is a price to automatic logins and remembered websites. Reviewing your security regularly and changing strong passwords, are simple ways to protect you, your family and your personal information in this virtual world. If you are interested in help with any of these, we are here to be a resource for you.