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Stay Safe Online and Protect Your Digital Data

stay safe online

In today’s digitally focused world, where our lives are increasingly woven with technology, the threat of cybercrime is pervasive. Cybercriminals employ numerous tactics to exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access to your personal and financial information.

Yet, with the right knowledge and preemptive measures that are detailed below, individuals can safeguard against threats that range from email hacking to information stealing.

Use Strong, Unique Passwords

Avoid using obvious or easily guessable phrases or personal information like birthdates or pet names. Instead, create complex passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Refrain from using the same password across different accounts to prevent a single breach from compromising multiple accounts.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone or email. Whenever possible, enable this extra layer of protection to block unauthorized access, even if your password is compromised.

Stay Updated

Keep your software, operating system, antivirus programs, and web browsers up to date. Many have an automatic-update setting that alerts you when it is time to install an update. Even with automatic updates, it’s good practice to check your software and apps on a regular schedule to ensure you are working with the latest version. Note that updates often include security enhancements, making it harder for intruders to exploit weaknesses and gain computer access.

Beware of Phishing Attempts

Phishing is one of the most common tactics used by cybercriminals to trick unsuspecting users into giving computer access and exposing sensitive information. Phishing is a technique online thieves use to get you to click on a link or attachment in your email, website or social media account that enables them to acquire sensitive data, such as bank account numbers. Be vigilant of emails, messages, or pop-ups from unknown senders requesting personal or financial information – or wanting you to take action such as clicking or calling. Never click on suspicious links or download attachments from an unfamiliar party.

Verify Website Security

Before entering sensitive information on a website, ensure it is secure by looking for “https://” in the URL and a padlock icon in the address bar. Secure websites encrypt data transmitted between your browser and the server, helping to protect it from interception.

Exercise Caution Online

Practice safe browsing habits by avoiding suspicious websites and refraining from downloading pirated or copied software. Also avoid clicking on dubious advertisements. Consider using ad blockers and a virtual private network (VPN) to enhance your online privacy and security. VPN software encrypts your personal data and masks your IP address so your information can’t be accessed or tracked.

Protect Your Wi-Fi Network

Guard your home Wi-Fi network by using strong encryption and a unique password. Regularly update your router’s firmware and opt to hide your network’s SSID (network name or identifier) to prevent it from being easily detected by potential hackers. Ask for help from your Wi-Fi provider during setup to maximize your protection.

Backup Your Data

Regularly backup important files and data to a cloud storage service or an external hard drive. In the event a bad actor gains entrance to your computer and locks your access, having backups ensure that you can restore your files without succumbing to a cybercriminal’s demand for money.

Monitor Your Accounts

Regularly review your bank statements, credit reports, credit card statements and online accounts for any unauthorized transactions or suspicious activity. Immediately report any irregularities to your financial institution and/or service provider. You also may want to get the police involved.

Secure Payment Methods

When making online purchases, always check that there is a secure payment method available. Use credit cards or reputable payment services that feature full buyer protection. Avoid wire transfers or sending money to unknown individuals or businesses.

Use Security Solutions

Identify and prevent malicious activities on your computer by installing anti-malware and antivirus software that features an intrusion detection system. Use a VPN.

By taking a proactive approach to cyber safety, you can help stop intrusion and safeguard your digital information.

For more information, click here for a related article: Protecting Yourself from Computer Scams >>

Need Computer Help?

If you have questions or need help, please call us at 540-904-2070 or come by our Vinton Computer store at 360 East Virginia Avenue in Vinton.