In today’s world, protecting yourself online can seem virtually impossible. Hackers and spammers are no longer limited to posing as deposed foreign princes or sending viruses through email. Despite the many challenges, there are ways to keep your personal information safe while online. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. When creating passwords, use a mixture of upper & lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Stay away from using passwords that could easily be guessed like “password” or names of family members and pets.
2. Many email and online banking accounts are now offering dual factor authentication. This requires more than just a password to access your account. Typically, a code will be sent to your cell phone, and once you enter that code on the website, you can gain access into your account. This helps to ensure that your accounts are only accessed by you.
3. While public Wi-Fi or wireless internet connections can be convenient, be very careful while accessing your accounts on public Wi-Fi. Fraudulent Wi-Fi networks set up to look legitimate can allow hackers easy access to your private information. If possible, avoid using public Wi-Fi networks.
4. Put passwords on all of your personal devices – phones, tablets, and laptops. If these devices ever fall into the wrong hands, it is very easy for hackers to gain entry into your email and other accounts.
5. When checking your email, only open attachments or click links that were sent by people you know and trust. If you were not expecting an attachment from them, or the email seems odd, do not open anything.
6. If your computer is hacked, do not pay the hackers money. Try to change your passwords on your accounts, call a trusted tech company and notify your financial institutions that your computer has been compromised.
7. Stay up to date with cyber security threats and how you can stay safe. Visit www.staysafeonline.org to get tips on how to secure your devices against virtual threats.