As people spend more and more time online conversing, shopping, browsing, and doing ordering everything from dinner to diapers, cybersecurity has become extremely important. People are also using more and more devices to access the Internet, and they’re doing it from unsecured WiFi networks that can hand their information over to people you really don’t want to have access to it.
Unfortunately, there have been major breaches in data from companies like Target, credit bureaus, and others, and the result is that it’s costing these companies millions upon millions of dollars as people’s information is compromised. So it’s now more important than ever to take certain cybersecurity measures to protect your data and your privacy. We’ve put together some of the top 10 important tips that will help keep your information out of the hands of cyber thieves.
Tip #1: Keep All Software Current
Sounds pretty obvious, but most people who receive a notice from software companies, apps, and operating systems that there are updates available simply ignore them. That’s a mistake because most of the updates contain security fixes that prevent cyber thieves from accessing personal data and information.
Remember, the longer a software or system has been out there, the more time thieves have had to figure out how to hack it. New updates prevent that!
Tip #2: Use Caution on Social Media
Social media has given people a new way to meet, converse, maintain relationships and build new ones. The problem is that cyber thieves use those platforms to gain your trust, and then steal as much personal information about you as possible.
Whether it’s Facebook, a dating site or you receive an email or call from a “former schoolmate or business colleague,” you really have to vet out who you’re really conversing with. This also happens with Phishing scams, where you receive a call asking for personal or financial information. Cyber crooks like to build phony identities, gain your confidence and then pull one of their various scams to get access to your data. To prevent this, use an online tool like Nuwber to see the real identity behind the person you’re emailing or talking with.
Tip #3: Watch What you Click on
Everyone likes to visit new websites, but that curiosity can get you into a lot of trouble if you download anything from those sites. If you download an attachment or free offer, the link can fill your computer with malware or even tie up your computer and then offer to “ransom” it back to you for a price. This has happened to many individuals and businesses and has cost millions of dollars to gain back access to computers. It’s best to avoid the problem in the first place!
Tip #4: Protect your Data
If you store personal or very sensitive data on your device, like credit card info, passwords or other financial information, you’re asking for trouble. Never store it on computers that others have access to, like communal computers at work for example. And if you do store or send sensitive data, always use encryption to protect your data.
Tip #5: Use Those Mobile Devices with Caution
Mobile devices offer us all an amazing amount of convenience, but they’re susceptible to cyber attacks just like your computer. Always lock your device using a password or a PIN number, and never download an app unless you know it’s from a source you can trust. Never click on links or download attachments from an email you’re not familiar with. If your device allows for data encryption, use it! Check your owner’s manual for instructions.
Tip #6: Practice Safe Shopping
Here’s the main piece of advice: never shop online from a device that isn’t yours or it’s connected to a network you’re not familiar with. Otherwise, crooks can capture your credit card information as you type. Don’t save your credit card info on your online accounts, always enter it when making a purchase. Finally, be sure you’re shopping at a legitimate online source – one you know and trust.
Tip #7: Beware of those Friend Requests
You just never know who is asking you to be a friend. Even if it’s a Facebook connection, don’t respond unless you really know the person and you really know what he or she can be trusted. If you receive an unsolicited request, use one of the online verification tools like Nuwber to be sure that the person requesting your friendship is really who they say they are.
Tip #8: Turn it off and Lock it
When you’ve finished your online activity, remember to turn off your computer or device and lock it. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or laptop, be sure it’s never unlocked when you’re away from your device. And always be sure you have your device password protected by a secure password, and be sure to change that password frequently.
Tip #9: Discard Old Apps
If you haven’t used an app in the previous 6 months, it’s time to get rid of it. The reason: cyber crooks can use those old apps as a way into your system. Be sure you use software from the app developer to delete it, just putting the icon in the trash won’t eliminate it.
Tip #10: Forget About Public WiFi
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If you have to use a public WiFi, always use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when signing in. And be sure that the VPN server is encrypted. That way, cyber thieves will have a much harder time trying to access your data that’s on your device. You can use the top VPN services like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost or IPVanish.