1. YOU ARE A TARGET
Realize that you are an attractive target to hackers. Don’t ever say “It won’t happen to me.”
2. EIGHT CHARACTERS IS NOT ENOUGH
Practice good password management. Use a strong mix of characters, and don’t use the same password for multiple sites. Don’t share your password with others, don’t write it down and definitely don’t write it on a post-it note attached to your monitor.
3. LOCK IT UP
Never leave your devices unattended. If you need to leave your computer, phone or tablet for any length of time—no matter how short—lock it up so no one can use it while you’re gone. If you keep sensitive information on a flash drive or external hard drive, make sure to lock it up as well.
4. PRACTICE SAFE CLICKING
Always be careful when clicking on attachments or links in email. If it’s unexpected or suspicious for any reason, don’t click on it. Double check the URL of the website the link takes you to: bad actors will often take advantage of spelling mistakes to direct you to a harmful domain.
5. BEWARE OF BROWSING
Sensitive browsing, such as banking or shopping, should only be done on a device that belongs to you, on a network that you trust. Whether it’s a friend’s phone, a public computer or a cafe’s free WiFi—your data could be copied or stolen.
6. BACK UP DATA
Back up your data regularly, and make sure your anti-virus software is always up to date.
7. PHYSICAL CYBER SAFETY
Be conscientious of what you plug in to your computer. Malware can be spread through infected flash drives, external hard drives and even smartphones.
8. SHARE LESS SENSITIVE INFORMATION
Watch what you’re sharing on social networks. Criminals can befriend you and easily gain access to a shocking amount of information—where you go to school, where you work, when you’re on vacation—that could help them gain access to more valuable data.
9. STAY ON TOP OF YOUR ACCOUNTS.
Be sure to monitor your accounts for any suspicious activity. If you see something unfamiliar, it could be a sign that you’ve been compromised.
10. USE TWO-FACTOR OR MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
Two-factor or multi-factor authentication is a service that adds additional layers of security to the standard password method of online identification. Without two-factor authentication, you would normally enter a username and password. But, with two-factor, you would be prompted to enter one additional authentication method such as a Personal Identification Code, another password or even fingerprint. With multi-factor authentication, you would be prompted to enter more than two additional authentication methods;after entering your username and password.
This article first appeared in the October 2019 edition of The Dispatch on page 19.