We all use the internet every day, and that is not going to change, but have you recently taken a look on the cyber crime and identity theft headlines? They seem to be getting a lot more attention on the news these days. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), an estimated 17.6 million persons, or about 7 percent of U.S. residents age 16 or older, were victims of at least one incident of identity theft in 2014.
So, I guess the question here is: what can we do on our end to be safe online? Here are a few tips that you can start practicing today to address that:
Use strong passwords.
A complex password is usually composed of capital letters, numbers and a minimum of 8 characters. The easiest way to remember it is using a sentence. It is important that your sentence doesn’t include any personal truths, DOB, address or company name. Making it nonsensical is ideal. Then, you can use a letter or number from each part of the sentence to craft your password. Here’s an example:
My Sister is Stronger Than 18 Ducks
To improve the security, you might want to make a slight change to that sentence, and rotate your password every 90 days or so.
Be suspicious of emails.
Have you heard about CEO fraud, where the bad guys spoof an email from the company’s CEO and send it out to a key employee in the accounting department asking them to transfer money to a (fake) account? That has actually happened to one of our clients. So, when it comes to emails, always be skeptical of who the message comes from and what action is needed from you. Never click on links or download files until you are able to validate the email and its sender.
Install a good anti-virus.
The best way to prevent viruses and worms from getting into your computer is using education and common sense. By that we mean, you should not be browsing from shady websites or downloading files from a suspicious source. Taking these precautions alone will not suffice, but they are an important step in keeping you protected, or as we call it, having good browsing practices. One should always consider adding an extra layer when it comes to web safety, and this is where an anti-virus might come in hand.
Shop only on secure websites.
I almost feel like this is a topic targeting us, ladies. When it comes to online shopping, you should always be looking for websites that use the VeriSign, Entrust, or other security certification. We all know the feeling of finding a bargain online, but remember, no sale is worth if it leads to having your computer infected with viruses.
Secure your devices and accounts.
Make sure to have all your devices (PCs, laptops, and phones) locked, protected by a strong password. You should also consider using additional passwords to access your applications and online accounts, specially the ones that access your personal or financial information.