10 Tips To Stay Safe Online

Have you ever used your phone, tablet, or computer to make a purchase online? Or, have you entered your personal information online to apply for a school, job, or credit card? If so, you’re making yourself susceptible to cyber attacks. According to a study by The University of Maryland, there is a cyber hack every 39 seconds in the U.S. — ultimately affecting one in three Americans each year — from their businesses to their personal information. As alarming as this number is, there are ways to protect yourself. Understanding your risk and taking precautions to help prevent identity theft are key to staying safe online. Here are 10 ways to help protect yourself and your personal data: 

  • Create strong passwords and update them often

As tempting as it may be to use your pet’s name or your birthday as a password, we highly recommend you think twice. Creating an unlikely password helps decrease your chances of getting hacked. Consider using a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols to create a unique password — and if you think you may forget it, write it down and store it in a safe place. Additionally, you should update your passwords regularly and avoid using the same one twice in a short period of time. 

  • Keep software up-to-date

Updating software regularly helps ensure you have the most up-to-date security systems on your devices. Oftentimes, out of date software can make you susceptible to a ransomware attack as hackers discover vulnerabilities in those systems. Turning on automatic updates to your computer software, cellphone, and browser plugins will help keep your information safe.

  • Keep an eye out for phishing scams and hacks

Being aware of current phishing scams and hacks is one of the best ways to protect your information. A phishing scam is when a sender pretends to be a trusted person or business in order to obtain personal information — 90% of ransomware attacks originate from a phishing scam. Be alert to news updates on phishing scams and hacks to avoid falling victim to one of these schemes.

  • Only use secure websites and networks

Avoid public Wi-Fi and any networks that don’t require a password or secure log-in. Any time you use an unsecured network, you’re exposing your information to potential hackers. If you’re unsure if the site you’re using is safe, here is a helpful resource offering signs to look for.

  • Be mindful when sharing anything online

Today, we’re all too quick to share a cute photo on social media with friends and family. Sometimes, we may not realize that photos include personal information that we would rather not share. Even something as simple as a visible home address on a package or information listed on a bill could reveal personal information that could be detrimental to your online safety. Only share photos and updates you have double-checked — and most importantly, be sure to only share with people you trust. 

  • Do not leave devices unattended

Leaving a laptop unattended for just 30 seconds can result in loss of personal information. Have you ever left your device in open view to throw something away at the airport or to quickly pick up your order at a local coffee shop? These are common instances that seem minor but can have devastating effects. Log out of browsers and make sure all devices need a password to access them if left alone.

  • Be careful what you click

From emails to spam links that pop up on websites, a hack can come from the most innocent looking ad. If you don’t know who the email is from or an ad seems suspicious, do your research before clicking it or don’t click it at all. 

  • Install a 2-step authentication system

There is safety in numbers, and that includes having two layers of security to access your devices. Many devices now offer two-factor authentication, which means users have to complete an extra security task to get into devices, such as entering a password, answering a security question, or even showing their fingerprint or face. With each added layer of protection, it will be harder for a hacker to gain access to your device.

  • Use anti-virus protection and firewall

Anti-virus software is the most common way to prevent cyber attacks. This software helps fight attacks that will compromise data and screens hackers, viruses, and other malicious attacks that may attempt to enter your device. Both Windows and MAC OS X now come with their own firewall protection, but you can also install outside protection from a router if needed.

  • Monitor your information and accounts for signs of an attack

Did you know it can take up to 206 days for a company to determine their system has experienced a breach? Checking in on your accounts often can help you identify an attack as quickly as possible. Keep an eye on financial statements for suspicious activity and monitor your accounts for any attempted logins.

The Internet can be a great resource, but it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your information and digital identity. We hope these tips help keep you and your data safe. 

If you have more questions about cyber insurance for yourself or your business, we work with over 500 independent agents who are ready to help. Visit our website to find a local agent near you: bit.ly/QuincyFindAgent

 

 

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