Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Protect Yourself From Online Scares

Tech Tips
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Avoid Internet scares and identity theft issues with our tips to stay safe this October.

 

red illusration of phone with lock, shield and key icons surrounding them

 

As the designated “scary season,” October is the ideal month to focus on staying safe online. And this year, with more people using the internet for school, socializing, and work than ever, it’s even more important for you to protect your digital devices. Avoid chilling cybercrimes that could compromise your data security this Cybersecurity Awareness Month by following our expert tips. They’re so simple, you can do them during a horror movie marathon, or while you’re brainstorming costume ideas.

 

Check your online activity.

 

There’s more than one reason October is the perfect time to celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness. Online purchases and individual spending go way up around the holiday season– and so do cybercrimes and hacking attempts. Get prepared before Christmas shopping ramps up on Black Friday and Cyber Monday by ensuring your online data is secure well ahead of time. 

 

Double-check your important account information. Every 3 months or so, go through the information on your most important accounts. That should include your business and primary email addresses, online banking, bill payments, and any other payment option you use. Ensure your passwords are secure, and take a quick look through your bank statements online to ensure nothing fishy is going on under your nose. It can take a surprisingly long time for someone to report fraudulent account activity. And it’s much more likely to slip by if you don’t regularly check your online account, or if the cybercriminal is taking smaller amounts over a long period of time instead of one large chunk of money at once.

 

• Do regular tune-ups.

 

You already know that it’s important to clean the gutters and check your smoke alarm batteries twice a year. But are you providing the same kind of maintenance for your online appliances? By 2021, annual damage related to cybercrime is projected to hit $6 trillion. That’s a lot of dough! 

 

Protect your investments by taking proper precautions with your home security, outside and in. You should check your online security at least once a year.  Keep software systems up-to-date, back up your hard-drive information, and verify antivirus software works properly. External hard drives are a great option for backing up information. Alternatively, you can sign up with DropBox, iCloud, or other online data providers to keep important information copied in the cloud.

After 2020 has made the message clear– when it comes to viruses, prevention is worth an ounce of cure. 

 

• Use 2-step verification.

 

2-step verification, also known as 2-factor authentication (or 2FA), is exactly what it sounds like; a security system that requires 2 distinct forms of id to access. Ever get a text with a security code to access an online account? Then you’ve used 2FA before. It might be a little annoying to have to look at more than one screen in order to log in to your devices. But trust us; the mild inconvenience is well worth the extra security this step adds.

 

Many hackers are able to force their way in through brute force attacks, which use computerized algorithms to form countless potential password solutions using commonly found online information like birth dates or pet names. By using 2-step verification, this type of hacking attempt is almost impossible to use successfully.

 

The first step is typically a password, while the second generally uses a pin number, biometrics (such as a scan of your face, fingerprint or retina), or a timed token.  While 2FA is a great way to up your security online with ease, it’s not completely foolproof; you should still always exercise caution while browsing the web. 

 

We hope these tips help you stay safe this October, and the rest of your online existence! For more cybersecurity tips, check out our post on busting cybercrime before it starts.

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