Surfing the Net is my Favorite Sport, how can I do it Safely?
The internet is a powerful resource that many Americans have come to depend on for everyday activities like shopping, banking, and connecting with friends. Yet, for all the internet’s advantages, it can also make users vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and other scams.
Here are a few tips to help you stay safe and secure online:
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
- Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
- Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
- Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
- Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
- Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
- Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects.
By taking these steps you improve your chances of avoiding a painful wipeout while surfing.
12 Tips to keep your Smartphone Safe
The number of attacks on mobile devices is growing, in part, as a result of the increased popularity of mobile banking. According to a report by the Federal Reserve, 51 percent of smartphone users say they have used mobile banking in the past 12 months.
Here are a few steps you can take to protect the data on your mobile device:
- Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.
- Log out completely when you finish a mobile banking session.
- Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
- Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary “permissions.”
- Download the updates for your phone and mobile apps.
- Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device.
- Tell your financial institution immediately if you change your phone number or lose your mobile device.
- Be aware of shoulder surfers. The most basic form of information theft is observation. Be aware of your surroundings especially when you’re punching in sensitive information.
- Wipe your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software, specific to your smartphone, allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
- Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. Also be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
- Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Public connections aren’t very secure, so avoid performing banking transactions on a public network. If you need to access your account, try disabling the Wi-Fi and switching to your mobile network.
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
By taking these precautions you can ensure that your smartphone doesn’t do anything dumb.
How to Protect Yourself When Going Mobile
I have to say, the smartphones of today are amazing. To have that much information in your pocket is a wonder to an old dog like me. Makes me wonder how we ever got along without them.
That said, it is important to safeguard your mobile device to reduce the risk of identity theft. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your chances against the hackers –
- Use the passcode lock on all of your mobile devices – a simple but effective step that makes it much more difficult for hackers to get to your data, so long as the passcode isn’t 1234 or something equally obvious.
- Log out completely when you finish a mobile session involving your finances – whether it is with your bank, insurance company, or other service provider.
- Keep your operating software up to date by downloading updates as they are available – they often contain protection against the newest viruses.
- Beware of shoulder surfers – that person behind you at the airport who is stealing your passcodes.
- Exercise caution when using public Wi-Fi networks – they are the easiest to hack so use your mobile network when conducting financial transactions.
- Only download apps or programs from known sources.
- Keep your bank informed if you change phone numbers or if your phone is lost or stolen.
These relatively simple steps will reduce the risk of being hacked and having your identity stolen.