There is no absolute way to always be protected when online, but being aware of the following practices may help reduce security breach and help keep you safe.
- Create passcodes that are complex and unique, give them 8 to 12 characters using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols – and they should often be changed. Never reuse a password on another account or site.
- Consider using a password manager that will store and encrypt your passcodes. Avoid making a list of all your passcodes unless it is locked in a secure file.
- Set your smartphone and computers to lock after a short idle time.
- Use the multi-factor authentication technology — passwords can be compromised, but an extra step to log in, this provides an additional layer of security.
- Be Suspicious!! — If it looks wrong, it probably is! Resist clicking links in emails that seem to come from your bank, the IRS, or any other institution. Some email services allow you to hover your cursor over the link to preview the destination which helps you ensure that the actual website matches the text in the email. The best practice is to log into your account directly, and do not use the link provided.
- You can test suspicious links using an online malware checker (virustotal.com)
- Verify all money movement transactions — have your bank and credit card company send you an email or text when money is moved or spent over a certain amount.
- Do not use public Wi-Fi in hotels; instead, use tethering from your smartphone provider (hotspot) or VPN service.
- Install antivirus from a trusted vendor. If you can’t afford one, there are plenty of free options for home use such as Avast and Microsoft.
- Keep software and browsers up to date with the latest patches. Software manufacturers release updates for their programs in efforts to stay ahead of cyber criminals. Take advantage of these update, and avoid leaving your operating systems, browsers and anti-virus software at risk.
Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to become proactive as you pursue the quest for better online protection and remember to apply them daily so you can “be” as safe as possible.
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