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Boost your Cyber Resilience

Being mindful of your actions while online and practicing smart and secure computer habits can help safekeep your data. Below are some of the ways in which you can protect your identity and online information.

 

­­­­­Update your Software

  • Ensure that security software for all your internet-connected devices (including smart appliances and connected devices, such as home assistants like Alexa), web browser and operating system is up to date. Doing so will best help you safeguard against infection from virus, malware and other cyber threats.
  • Tweak your device’s settings to enable automatic software updates to defend against identified risks actively.

 

Strengthen your Logins

  • Enable strong authentication tools on all devices such as biometrics like fingerprint or facial recognition, or unique one-time codes entered from your mobile device to improve account security.

Reinforce your Passwords

  • Create unique passwords for each online account. Using a “master” password puts all of your online accounts at risk of being compromised.
  • Keep in mind that strong passwords are at least 12 characters in length, and contain letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Set a sentence or phrase as your password so it’s easy to remember and you don’t have to write it down.

 

Secure your Home Network

  • Protect your network by setting an inconspicuous name that doesn’t hint to where the router is based. Avoid using your family name or address since making a network easily identifiable as your own puts you at risk to be targeted by hackers.
  • Set a strong password for your Wi-Fi network - recommended to be at least 12 characters in length.

 

Connecting on the Go

  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or personal hotspot when transmitting personal data or making purchases in public.
  • Enter payment information only into sites with a secure web address (i.e., “https://” or “shttps://”). Sites with those protocols encrypt web communications, making it secure to transmit personal and payment information. 

 

Refresh your Devices

  • Refresh your devices by deleting Apps you no longer use and update and review App permissions of those you plan to keep. Set restrictions for the types of data collected about you by the developers of these Apps.
  • Clean out your email - empty trash folders, unsubscribe from email alerts or newsletters you no longer make use of or need.

 

 Keep a Backup

  • Back up all your digital files electronically and store them on another password protected device or drive. You will also need to back up the information stored on your mobile device. Preparing yourself with a recent copy of your files means you can retrieve them if you fall victim to ransomware or other cyberattacks.

 

Purging Data

  •  Perform a factory reset deleting all of your personal information and files from devices you plan to sell, donate or recycle.

 

Practice Smart Computer Usage

  • Review privacy and security settings for all accounts and devices, and set restrictions on the type of information you’re sharing.
  • Hover above any link you receive via email, social media, or online to test the item’s legitimacy. If you don’t recognize the link address or it raises any doubt, delete it immediately. The bottom line is that if something looks suspicious, delete it. Phishing messages sent from hackers can be manipulated to appear as if they’re originating from accounts of people you know, making it difficult to distinguish which messages are authentic, and which messages are trying to steal your data.
  • Run USBs and other external devices through a security scan when connecting to a device to ensure they’re not affected with malware or viruses.
  • Create an account with Apps that help you remotely locate, lock and wipe your device clean of data if your phone is lost or stolen.

 

Cyber risks only increase and become more obscure as our digital world expands and we connect more devices electronically. Boosting your cyber resilience by transforming the way you use the internet and share personal data is the best defense against cybercriminals. Make sure you take advantage of each of these tips and put them into action to boost your cybersecurity skills and protect your data.

 

Sources: Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), IdentityTheft.gov, Stop.Think.Connect.org