‘Tis the season for clicking away on our computers and mobile devices. Most of us will be online even more than usual in the coming weeks.
Oh, look at that great sale! Click.
The kids are soo cute with the antler hats, have to post them on Facebook. Click.
Responding to the Evite for the holiday party. Click.
All that information sharing also makes us more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats and costly identity thefts. There are steps you can take to make sure your personal information stays safe and secure. And what you can do if you are hacked.
- Limit Your Personal Information Online: Create social media profiles with limited information. The more personal and professional information you share publicly, the easier it is for you to be hacked. Limit who you are sharing information with by reviewing the privacy settings on your social media accounts.
- Use Strong Passwords and Change Them: Make sure you use strong passwords – many sites now force you to use strong passwords and that’s a good thing. Use different passwords for each of your online accounts and set up two-step verification, when possible. You should also try to change your passwords every three months.
- Keep Your Operating System Up to Date: Computer operating systems are periodically updated to stay in tune with technology requirements and to fix security holes. Be sure to install the updates to ensure your computer has the latest protection.
- Be Careful What You Download: Carelessly downloading email attachments can circumvent even the most vigilant anti-virus software. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know and be wary of forwarded attachments from people you do know. They may have unwittingly advanced malicious code.
- Use Secure URLs: Check to be sure websites are security enabled when performing an online transaction. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information.
- Turn Off Your Computer: Many of us opt to leave our computers on and ready for action. The downside is that being “always on” renders computers more susceptible. Beyond firewall protection, which is designed to fend off unwanted attacks, turning the computer off effectively severs an attacker’s connection.
- Trust Your Gut: If you think an offer is too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Immediately change all passwords; financial passwords first. If you used the same password for multiple resources, make sure to change it for each account, and do not use that password in the future.
- Contact companies, including banks, where you have accounts as well as credit reporting companies.
- Check to make sure the software on all of your systems is up-to-date.
- Run a scan to make sure your system is not infected or acting suspiciously.
- If you find a problem, disconnect your device from the internet and perform a full system restore.
- Report the incident if you believe there was a financial crime committed or identity theft. File a report with our police so there is an official record of the incident
- Watch for any unexplainable or unauthorized charges to your accounts.