Data Privacy and Security is definitely our theme for this week, so we wanted to offer 10 tips to help you better protect your personal data, financial information, and privacy when you’re online.
1. Keep your operating system and any software on your devices up to date.
This is something you will hear repeatedly from any IT Security professional. Just enable automatic software updates so they run automatically.
2. If its sensitive data then you should encrypt it
If it is encrypted, the bad guys will have a little more of a challenge getting to the data. If you are in the habit of using ISB drives to copy sensitive information between computers, think about using an encryption program on your USB drive.
3. Use a well-regarded antivirus software on your device and make sure it gets updates on a daily basis
Antivirus is just one of the layers that can help protection you against threats but it’s not full proof. The point here is to have it installed, and make sure its signatures are automatically updated daily.
4. Use unique passwords for every account you own
Reusing passwords is just asking for trouble. If you have been targeted, and one of your usernames and passwords has been exposed or brute forced, the likelihood is really high that the bad guys are going to try those credentials on anything and everything they can associate with you.
5. Manage your privacy settings for mobile apps and online accounts
Keeping up to date with privacy settings for all the different apps and online applications you use is definitely a pain. I get it. Unfortunately, it’s got to be done. Does everyone in the world who stumbles upon your facebook page or whatsapp profile or Instagram profile or any popular app at the time profile, need to easily be able to get your address, or your cell phone or that know that you’re out on vacation which means your most likely not at home? Probably not. Stop, Think and Secure your mobile apps and online accounts
6. If you don’t need it, delete it
If you want to minimize your risk, then minimize the amount of data that you store and the amount of data that you store that has sensitive information.
7. Regularly monitor your bank account and credit card transactions
The best way to detect if you’ve been a victim of fraud is to get alerts or emails or texts for any transactions on your accounts. Most banks offer this type of alerting and notification feature. If yours does not, look into other apps that might help you that you can monitor on a daily basis. Mint is an example but there are a bunch like it that provides you that single pane of glass into
all of your banking transactions in one spot so you can quickly and easily identify any fraudulent charges.
8. Use Google alerts to help you identify companies that you may do business with that may be in the news for a data breach
Google has a great feature called Google Alerts that sends you an email any time it finds keywords that you want to be alerted on. Take advantage of it. If you know you only do banking with one banking institution and you want to know if and when there is a data breach, find a way to use Google alerts to help you.
9. Shy away from Free Wi-Fi networks
The bad guys are always using free Wi-Fi networks to sniff network traffic that is in clear text. Ever used a free Wi-Fi network and performed any transaction on a site that wasn’t using HTTPS in the address bar? Well, sad to say if there was any bad guys sniffing that network you just gave them your password. Avoid using them in high traffic public places like cafes and airports etc. If you have to use an unprotected wifi network be sure that HTTPS is enabled for any websites that you visit.
10. Learn to recognize and avoid phishing attacks. Be skeptical about new emails that are from unknown people
Phishing attacks are an incredible popular tactic for cyber criminals. Why? Because it’s so easy! So many users are click happy and have no regard for their computers or personal data and just click on any hyperlink in an email. But if I was to ask them for their keys to their house, or let a stranger in front door of their house from off the street, or if I ask them to repeat their credit card number including the CVV number to a perfect stranger, they would tell me, No…are you crazy? I don’t know you? If that’s the case why do we see over and over again users that click on hyperlnks in emails from strangers that they don’t know, have never heard of before just because it’s in their inbox? Who cares if the senders name isn’t spelled right, or the IT Department at Cornell is telling you that your Lynn University mailbox is full and you need to ask for more space. If there’s an email from a person that you know, but you aren’t expecting them to send you an email, pick up the phone and call them. Verify that it’s really from them. When in doubt, just delete it.