Digitalization provides many opportunities to streamline tasks and maximize our time on a daily basis, but with the simplicity of life online we must be mindful that risks are present too. And one of the significant ones being cybersecurity attacks. It is crucial to be aware of where your information is going and who has access to it in order to keep your information from landing in the wrong hands. The best defense is to take the following simple steps to help improve your cyber security.
Skip the Public Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
Not a fan of cellular data charges? That’s understandable. But you’d probably be even less of a fan of the hassles that come with cyber fraud and identity theft. When you’re out and about, do your best to avoid connecting to free Wi-Fi and plugging your device into a public charging station. Once connected or plugged in, these networks and charging stations may serve as gateways for a cybercriminal to tap into your information. Only connect to free public networks that require a password or use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which encrypts your data. Tip: Learn alternate ways to ensure your device is fully-charged to protect your data from getting hacked.
Change Your Passwords Regularly
Trying to memorize a library of passwords can be a feat in itself, but opting to switch up your passwords often is a game worth the challenge. Although it’s easy to utilize a go-to password or username, cybercriminals are well aware of this practice. To make a strong password that is hard for hackers to crack, be sure to include multiple character sets – uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters (@#!$%). One rule of thumb is the longer the password, the stronger the password. Tip: Change your passwords every three months and don’t share them with anyone so your accounts and private information stay protected.
Always Look for Security Signs
Trustworthy companies and organizations that conduct business online use secure websites to ensure all the information you send through their site is encrypted as it travels. Account numbers, names, and addresses will look like gibberish if it’s intercepted. To make sure the website you are using is verified secure, confirm that it starts with https and has a padlock security symbol displayed in the address bar of your browser. Tip: Never disclose your sensitive data on non-https sites.
Monitor Your Accounts Daily
The best way to spot suspicious activity is to be on top of your day-to-day account activity. Just think of the damage that could be done in a matter of hours if your credit card number is stolen. Plus, getting your money back from unauthorized transactions is much easier if caught early. It’s important to keep track of your digital footprint and that includes monitoring all the social media channels you use. Tip: Delete accounts you’re not using!
Protect Your Home Network
Just like you lock your front door, keeping your home Wi-Fi network password-protected will help you secure your personal information and data. Be sure to turn on all security settings built into your devices and password-protect files with sensitive personal or account data. Additionally, always ensure firewalls and virus-detection software is up-to-date to create the best defense against cybercrimes. Tip: Create a guest password so visitors to your home can access the Wi-Fi.
While these precautions reduce your risk for becoming a victim, they unfortunately cannot guarantee your security. We understand the need to protect your identity online has become increasingly important and have resources available for assistance. For more tips to help protect your personal information, check out our other blogs on Privacy & Cybersecurity and visit the Lakeland Bank identity theft information center. If you believe your personal information has been compromised or you think you are a victim of identity theft, we’re here to help! Contact us at 866-224-1379.