Week 2: Keep your information safe

secure information

We’re back for another week of cybersecurity awareness tips. This week, we’ll teach you how to identify unsecure environments and how you can beef up your own cybersecurity. First, we’ll discuss some areas to be aware of online and in the real world.

Wi-Fi Hot Spots

There is something soothing about getting work done at a coffee shop. The delicious smell of freshly brewed coffee, the ability to zone out of reality and dive head first into your work and, of course, the free wi-fi. But don’t be so quick to queue up your productivity playlist. Since free wi-fi hot spots can be unsecured or unencrypted, criminals can intercept and secretly steal your data. Make sure you’re only using secure wi-fi networks and ones that you have trusted in the past. It’s not wrong to use free wi-fi; just be mindful that anyone can be listening. So think about what type of activities are you’re doing. Use caution for things like online shopping or banking.

Unfamiliar Links

Similar to phishing, scammers may create websites with links that look very similar to websites you use on a daily basis. They may also set up malicious links or pages within reputable websites you use to purchase items. This typically happens when the website has holes in their cybersecurity. It’s always important to check and verify the link you’re clicking on is spelled correctly and is a trusted link you’ve used in the past. If you’re unsure of the link’s safety, verify the link by hovering over it to understand where it is really taking you. Ensure that you are comfortable clicking on that link.

Public Charging Stations

If you’re sitting at the airport and notice your battery is running low, your first instinct is probably to charge it at one of those conveniently located USB charging stations. Think twice before you plug your device into one of these. Cybercriminals can use charging stations to install malware on your device and steal your data without you even knowing. Rather than risking your cybersecurity, you’re better off using a portable power bank or plugging your regular charger into a wall outlet.

Now that you know how to identify cybersecurity risks, here are some ways you can better secure your devices and sensitive information to keep criminals out. No bouncer required.

Use Unique Passwords

The hassle of having a unique password for each website or program you use far outweighs the hassle of having to change all of your accounts if they’re breached. Using a unique password for everything that contains sensitive information greatly improves your cybersecurity by making your accounts more difficult to hack. Not sure how you’ll keep track of your different passwords? Password managers are a great option to help you manage all of your unique credentials. Be cautious and ensure that the password for your manager is the strongest one possible.

Update Apps and Systems When Required

We’ve all put off a software update on our devices for a night or two simply because we don’t want our devices being temporarily out of service. While updates can take a while to install, they’re necessary for the health of your device as well as your cybersecurity. Software updates will include fixes for bugs that could hinder your device’s use. Updates also help improve the overall security of your device. The same goes for any anti-virus or anti-malware software you use. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable by delaying your subscription renewal. The next time you get a notification to update your software, verify that it is a real software update and then proceed with the update once it has been confirmed.

Protect Your Physical Items

Cybersecurity threats aren’t just a risk online, you’ll find them in the real world, too. If you’re working in a public place, make sure your laptop, phone or any mobile devices are never left unattended. Just by leaving your laptop open or your phone out, you’re giving criminals the golden opportunity to steal your device or sensitive information. Even if you’re only going to be away from them for a moment, make sure you stow these items away in a secure place, bring it with you or have a trusted person look after it while you’re away. The same goes for other items, like your wallet, checkbook, debit cards, etc. Leaving those items out and up for grabs could cost you money, your financial security and even your identity.

A big part of cybersecurity is keeping your online presence and devices protected. However, protecting your information online and in the real world is essential for keeping all of your sensitive information secure. By being vigilant and practicing good habits when it comes to updating your devices, you’ll be able to keep your personal information and devices safe.

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