Protect Your Personal Information in the New Year

Worried about protecting yourself from hackers? Follow these few simple steps to keep your personal information safe and the bad guys at bay.

Wi-Fi – We all love the free Wi-Fi now available at your favorite coffee house, restaurant or store, but unfortunately so do cyber criminals! These services might be convenient, but they’re also an open door to everything on your device. To prevent your sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands, never access your bank or email while connected to unsecured Wi-Fi.

Updates – Be sure to update all of those new holiday toys! PC’s, tablets, and smart phones all need to be updated when new updates become available – even if it can sometimes be an inconvenience. All of your devices have an assigned address so that they can talk to the internet via the Internet of things (IoT). Updating your devices will help prevent cyber criminals or hackers from accessing your data via the IoT or using your device to attack someone else.

Antivirus – Make sure you’re installing and updating the antivirus software on your PC in order to protect from malware that tries to corrupt your PC or steal your personal information, such as banking and email credentials. Yes – you need antivirus protection, even if you browse the web carefully!

Back Up – Back up your data. A back up stored anywhere (external hard drive, flash drive or the cloud) is better than none at all, unless you have personally identifiable information (SSN, Credit Card data, etc.) in your back up. If so, store your back up in a safe place (encrypted if using the cloud).

Passwords – The password to your account is comparable to the key to your home’s front door. Start the New Year off by changing those passwords. Utilize numbers and characters to make your password harder for cyber criminals to crack – phrases are even better. Change your passwords often to be more secure. Use a password saver like PassKey or Password Safe to store your passwords.

Use HTTPS: “Hyper-text transfer protocol secure,” or HTTPS is a variant of the HTTP web protocol that adds an extra layer of security and encryption to online users. Communication between users and sites that support HTTPS are encrypted and also authenticated, which means that HTTPS can be used to identify phony websites often used by hackers.

Employing this small handful of security measures can greatly reduce your exposure to online threats and allow you to enjoy your time surfing, shopping, and connecting.