With more threats popping up each year, cybercrime continues to be a serious concern. Your data, including private information and financial records, could potentially be at risk. In celebration of October being National Cyber Security Awareness Month, here are a few helpful steps for keeping your data safe.
Add Security Software to Your Computer
Most of us do a lot of work online. This can include anything from a friendly email to mom to paying a monthly premium. While convenient, everything you do online comes with the potential of being accessed by a malicious third party. Spyware, malware and other malicious programs can steal your personal information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, addresses, and social security numbers. For protection, you will want to look into purchasing and adding digital security software to your computer. The optimal internet security will safeguard your identity by preventing current and emerging malware and viruses.
Use Strong Passwords
To properly secure your login information for websites, you should use a unique password for each site. Yes, it’s a pain to try and remember all your passwords, but getting hacked would be a lot more painful. Add numbers, punctuation or symbols to make your passwords more complex. The longer your password the harder it is to steal, so consider something in the 10-14 character range. Always change any default passwords that come with your WiFi router or with any online accounts you create.
Update Your Software Regularly
Out-of-date software is highly vulnerable to data breaches. Cybercriminals will try to gain access to your system by using known flaws in your software. The longer an app goes without an update, the longer a hacker has to figure out a way in. Computer and software companies often update to protect against these cyberattacks, but to ensure those updates apply to your apps and operating systems you’ll need to activate “automatic updates” or schedule a periodic check to see if there are any recent revisions. Make sure you also scan your system for viruses and malware with your internet security software to stay current on your protection.
Secure Your Social Media
Cybercriminals will try and find a way to access your accounts by browsing your personal information. The less information you share about yourself publicly, the harder it is for a hacker to find a way to infiltrate your life.
When using social media consider:
Your Privacy Settings
The default privacy settings on many social media websites may distribute information to more people than you want. Always check the default privacy settings and make sure to modify them to keep information private.
It’s a good idea to limit the information you make available to other social media users. Customize your privacy settings to minimize the amount of biographical information visible to the public.
Your Friends and Contacts
Use discretion when adding friends or contacts on a social media site. Deny membership requests from most service providers to prevent them from acquiring more information about you and disseminating it to a wider audience.
Encrypt Files and Back-Up Data
Encrypting any important data that’s stored on your computer or smartphone, such as medical records, photos, and tax information, to make it harder for hackers to access. Encryption simply involves installing software or changing system settings. Having a backup of your files is also a good idea to prevent their loss. Invest in an external hard drive and/or cloud storage to make copies of all the electronic files you need.