Cyber security month provides the perfect opportunity to ask yourself: “Just how much do I know about my online security?” It’s a place many of us spend time every day. Just like you wouldn’t hang out in an unsafe part of town, make sure your information doesn’t hang around in dark corners of the web where it can be easily snatched up by would-be identity thieves. When you’re online, there are ways to help keep your information in your own control by paying attention to certain page security and other support settings. Keeping security in the back of your mind at all times when you’re online means you’re on alert when things seem too good to be true or otherwise not quite right.
How can you stay ahead of thieves and scammers after your information? Keep these in mind when you next surf the web:
Confirm Your WiFi Is Secure
Unsecured wireless connections in your home or office mean that anyone within 500 feet can join your network and access your files. If you need to have guests join a network regularly to share or access their own information, you can enable a guest-only connection. Don’t allow open access to your private files, and enable WEP or WPA security to keep your information private.
Regularly Update Passwords – and Be Creative
Good passwords aren’t easy to guess, but they also don’t last forever. Keep a reminder on your calendar to change out passwords at least annually so that none of them stick around too long. If memorizing completely new passwords is too much to think about, try capitalizing a progressive, different letter each time you change it, or increasing a numeral by a progressive amount.
Beware of Phishers and Email Scammers
These days, fraudsters have gained access to programming and design software so their ‘request for information’ emails at first look like something you might receive from the businesses you may have accounts with. Don’t be fooled – if you receive an email or pop-up message online from a company claiming to have “lost your data” or requesting personal information or passwords, don’t reply through that method. Call the customer service number for your bank or creditor directly to ask about any problems or issues. If you didn’t initiate contact with the business, don’t give out information online, as identity thieves can pose as bank, credit card or medical billing representatives to steal your personal data.
Beware becoming the digital oversharer – not only because it can be in poor taste, but because you might be dropping clues about private parts of your identity via social media. By creating a record of your public activity, you might be cluing the wrong person in on your regular whereabouts, a long vacation where you’re far from home, or upcoming travel. Make sure you’re not disclosing too much information to a broad audience. Instead of a tweet about your upcoming long flight, consider sharing an album of vacation snaps as a recap once you return.
Consider an Online Card
If you’re a big online shopper, you know how complex it can be to find online charges across all your credit card statements. One way to avoid having to scan all your statements for signs of online fraud is to put all your online purchases on one card (and not use it for in-person shopping). Avoiding crossover means you can scan all your online purchases easily on one statement – a big help when you’re looking to fight online credit fraud.
When security online is top-of-mind for you, it’s easy to fight fraud and combat identity thieves seeking to capture your information at every turn. Each year their tactics become more and more advanced, and it’s more difficult to distinguish authentic messages from copycats with dark motives. Stay on your guard and make cyber security a part of your news cycle to stay on top of the latest learnings and new discoveries.