Before there were computers and an Internet, companies kept their sensitive information under lock and key. Literally! Every company had locked file cabinets that held reams of information, reports, accounting practices and other data, and access to those cabinets was limited to high-level executives. Then came computers, and businesses and others began storing those important files on their hard drives. In the early days, there wasn’t any “lock and key,” just a simple login to access their files. As cyber thieves began to proliferate, access to that sensitive data began to get more complex. It was for good reason, if you look back on all the hacking that has taken place over that past 5+ years. Whether you’re a company or just a computer user that wants to keep your private information private, there are some important cyber security tips that you can use to protect your information and privacy. Follow these tips and you’ll enjoy some peace-of-mind.
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Tip #1: Above All Else – Remember You’re a Target
Hackers put just about everyone at risk. You can be a student, employer, employee or a professional – it doesn’t really matter. The hackers want your personal and financial information and will do whatever they can to steal it. Never lose sight of that fact. If you stay alert and vigilant, you can protect yourself.
Tip #2: Don’t Fall for Phishing Scams
Cyber crooks will do whatever they can to get into your computer. One of the top ways they try is through phishing scams. You’ll get an email or phone call, usually through social media sites that look or sound legitimate and official but are nothing more than an attempt to gain access to your data. Many are friend requests, but be aware – they might not be looking to be your friends!
Before calling or emailing anyone back, find out who is really trying to contact you. The best way is to use an online tool like Nuwber, one of the top tools available that will reveal the real identity of the caller or person emailing you. Once you have their actual identity, compare it with who they are claiming to be, and decide if it’s nothing more than a scam or not. You’ll have a high level of confidence once you have the identity of the person trying to contact you.
Tip #3: Password Protection is Key
Nobody enjoys managing passwords needed to gain access to computers or data, but they are critical in protecting you from hackers. You’d be surprised how many people still enter “12345” or their birthdate as a password. Unfortunately, hackers aren’t surprised, and that’s one of the first ones they try when trying to gain access to your sensitive data.
You need to have a password that is at least 10 characters long, with numbers, upper and lower case characters and other keystrokes that make your password a strong one. Plus, you’re supposed to have a unique password for each and every one of the computers or websites you gain access to. That can be totally frustrating, as it can turn into a full-time job!
Instead, use a password manager to create and remember all of your passwords. Password managers that are highly rated include Dashlane, LastPass which is free, and Enpass which is rated as one of the best values available. Once you have a password manager up and running, your data will be well protected, and your life will be much easier when working on your computer.
Tip #4: Add Antivirus Software to your Computer
You absolutely must have antivirus software on your computer if you do any online shopping, research or simply conversing with others. Here’s why: it can protect you from logging on to malicious websites or downloading malware, ransomware or other nasty things. Plus, it’s all done in the background – automatically!
Some of the top antivirus software includes Norton 360 Deluxe, Kaspersky Total Security and McAfee Internet Security. Anyone of these will offer you the protection you need.
Tip #5: Put Away your Debit Card
If you make a purchase online, don’t use a debit card. If a cyber crook gains access to this card number, he or she will have access to your bank account and can wipe you out in mere minutes. Use a card that’s not tied to your bank – like PayPal or a Visa card.
Tip #6: Always Update your Software’s
This is crucial! Your operating system constantly has updates available, and you need to take advantage of them. The reason is that most updates are security fixes, and in order to ensure your system is operating safely, you have to install the latest version available.
Tip #7: Be Careful what you Download
In case you didn’t know it, hackers love it when you download something because that’s how they gain access to your network and computer. Forget downloading any software or even browser extensions, because that’s the doorway into your computer. Only download via a custom install, and avoid any automatic installs available.
Tip #8: Don’t Save your Payment Info
Many shopping sites offer you the option of saving your payment information, so the next time you shop all you have to do is click on auto-fill. Not surprisingly, don’t select this option! Instead, fill in your information like name, address, credit card, etc. each time you shop because if that website is hacked, they’re going to take all of your financial information along with them. Better to be safe than sorry!
Tip #9: Go for Two-Factor Authorization
Two factor and multi-factor authentication gives you an additional layer of security when you’re signing in to your computer or a website. The first layer is your email address and a password. The second layer will ask for a Personal Identification Code (PIN) or an additional password. You’ll be the only one who knows the answer, so you’ve protected your computer for cyber thieves!
Tip #10: Understand the Threats in Mobile Devices
Your smartphone is also a target for hackers, so pay attention to the threats against your phone. They include using an easy passcode, having out of date software and operating systems and sending your phone number or other personal information over a text message or email. Make it harder for hackers to steal your information, and you’ll have a safe smartphone that can’t be hacked!
That’s it – 10 easy cybersecurity tips to follow for a much safer computing experience!