Cybersecurity and Protecting Your Devices
To protect your devices and your personal information, follow these guidelines:
- Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a pop-up blocker on your computer, and make sure the firewall is enabled. For lists of security tools from legitimate security vendors, visit staysafeonline.org.
- Update your operating system and software frequently.
- When shopping online, only use well-known, reputable sites. You can check a business’ reputation by going to bbb.org.
- Do not click on links or open file attachments from senders you do not recognize as these could download malware onto your device or take you to a scam website where you’re prompted to enter sensitive information. In fact, even if the message appears to come from a business you are familiar with, you should refrain from interacting with the message and instead contact the entity through a verified phone number, email address or website.
- Never use public Wi-Fi to conduct financial transactions.
- Create strong passwords. The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. Mix letters, numbers and special characters. Don’t use your name, birthdate or pet’s name in your password. Use a different password for each of your accounts so that if someone hacks into one account, he/she cannot take over all your accounts.
- Backup your mobile phone and your computer files regularly. That way, if your device is compromised, you’ll still have access to your files.
- Lock your phone. Use at least a 6-digit passcode on your device, or use the pattern lock or fingerprint scanner. Set the device to lock when not in use.
- Protect yourself in the event that you lose your mobile device:
- Enable Find My iPhone (iOS) or Find My Device (Android). These apps could help you locate your device if you lose it. If your phone is stolen, these apps also let you remotely issue a command to erase your device – even if an identity thief turns it off.
- Alert your wireless provider as soon as you know your device is missing. They can permanently or temporarily disable the SIM card to stop someone from using the device for calls or the internet.
- Change passwords for your accounts. Many of us set our devices to remember passwords – which could mean that someone who gets your phone could get access to your accounts and personal information. So, if you lose your phone, create new passwords right away for your email, social media, online banking, shopping and other online accounts.