Clients often inquire about the best methods in which they may secure their data in an online world. Following are six basic methods to better secure such.
- Passwords – CHANGE THEM
It is easy to take this for granted. You have a password, it is unique to you, it contains letters, numbers, and symbols, and you’ve used it for years. If this is the case, chances are, you have become a target for hackers, malware, and/or identity thieves. It is best to change your passwords annually for sites you use infrequently, every 90 days for those you use regularly. Passwords should contain a mixture of alphanumeric characters, and when allowed, symbols. Words and or names should not be used, as these may be more easily obtained by those with any access to your personal information.
- Use Only Trusted WiFi Networks
If you’ve walked into a local coffee shop or waiting area in the past few years, you may have noticed free WiFi available to patrons. There is an old adage that nothing is free, but in this case, identity theft is. Unless your PC or Mac is running updated security software, only use free WiFi networks to transmit benign information, rather than personal information.
- Two-Factor Authentication
Being offered by many providers, such as Apple, Gmail, and Amazon, two-factor authentication is a wonderful go-to for protecting your online accounts from fraud. This technique usually involves a text message, or second method of confirming one’s identity, in order to continue with a transaction.
- PC/Mac Lock or PIN
When not in use, and not directly in your possession, locking your computer or device can mitigate unwanted use or theft of personal information. Locking is best used with a password to re-enter a given machine.
- Updates of Software, Specifically Operating Systems and Security Software
This can be a “set it and forget it” step, to a degree. Most operating systems (Windows, OS, iOS) and security suites allow users to configure such to automatically update. This is highly beneficial, as software developers update frequently to better maneuver against hackers and malware.
- Learn to Spot Phishing Emails
While email applications often alert the user to the sender of a message, that information can come from a source less than trustworthy. Learn to be vigilant in reviewing the sending email address and/or domain (i.e., google.com) of senders popping up in your inbox. Many times, an email that seems slightly off, or not as polished as a normal ad from your local big box store, will reveal a phishing scam. For instance, an email from email@example.com is legitimate, but one from firstname.lastname@example.org is not.