Cybersecurity is one of the most important issues facing consumers and businesses alike. Below are eight steps you can take to help protect yourself.
Protect Your Devices with Passwords – You wouldn’t leave sensitive documents laying out for curious eyes. Likewise, you need to put away the information stored on your computer in a safe place – locked behind a password in your own user account. Remember, smart phones and PDAs are computers too, so you should always password lock your phone so it’s harder for others to access your information.
Practice good password management – Passwords are the gateway to personal information, so it is advisable to use a strong mix of characters and use different passwords for multiple sites. In addition, don’t share your password with others, don’t write it down, and definitely don’t write it on a post-it note attached to your monitor. Passwords should not contain personal information such as spouses’ names, birthdays, Social Security numbers, because once someone has that fundamental information, it’s easier to figure out personal passwords. PC Magazine compares different password managers which can help you manage all your passwords.
Rethink answers to security questions – Between Facebook, LinkedIn, whitepages.com, classmates.com and ancestry.com, a lot of your personal data is online. Hackers use information from sites like these to get past your security questions. Outsmart them by thinking differently about answers to security questions. For example, when the question is about your hometown, instead pick a place that’s meaningful to you, like where you got engaged.
Protect your Wi-Fi – Maintain a secure Wi-Fi network which will act as a firewall around your personal data. Do not make your wireless network public or share it with your neighbors. Letting people piggyback on your connection takes up bandwidth, slowing you down, and it could also permit them to potentially see everything on your computer. An unsecured network is like an unlocked house, and if a hacker gains access to it, they can use your Wi-Fi to control your computer and send spam, get into your bank account and steal password information from sites you visit.
Be Wise About Public Wi-Fi – Sensitive browsing, such as banking or shopping, should only be done on a device that belongs to you or on a network that you trust. Whether it’s a friend’s phone, a public computer or the public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, your data could be copied or stolen. When using public Wi-Fi networks, remember to always log out of accounts when you’re done. Another level of security is something called a VPN (virtual private network), which will make your information even more secure.
Watch what you’re sharing on social networks – Criminals can befriend you and easily gain access to a shocking amount of information that could help them gain access to more valuable data. Never post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number or account numbers in publicly accessible sites. If you post too much information about yourself, an identity thief can find information about your life, use it to answer ‘challenge’ questions on your accounts, and get access to your money and personal information. You should also consider limiting access to your networking page to a small group of people or people you know personally.
Don’t click on unfamiliar links – We all get emails from unsuspecting friends whose accounts have been compromised. Most of us know to never click on the links in the email, but spammers are getting cleverer, so a good rule of thumb is if you see an email with no personal note, delete it and contact the sender who will want to change their password. Clicking on the will turn your email into a spamming machine by accessing your address book and sending the link to all those people. In some cases, these links can crash your hard drive.
Clean up after yourself – Before selling or recycling an old computer, wipe the system with a file scrubber. Simply deleting files and emptying the trash bin is not adequate to ensure the files can’t be recovered by anyone motivated to uncover them. For mobile devices, check your owner’s manual, for information on how to delete information permanently and how to save or transfer information to a new device before you dispose of a mobile device.
Cybersecurity is a growing issue that none of us are immune to. The sooner we get in the habit of following these best practices, the greater the chance we are of being prepared as the threat becomes more severe. To read the complete FDIC Guide click here.