Top Ten Tips for Protecting Your Identity, Finances, and Security Online
Whether you’re working, banking, shopping, or just streaming a few shows online, these quick tips will make sure you’re more secure from hacks, attacks, and prying eyes.
1 – Protect your computers
Start with the basics: get strong protection for your computers and laptops. And that means more than basic antivirus. Using a comprehensive suite of security software like McAfee® Total Protection can help defend your entire family from the latest threats and malware, make it safer to browse, help steer you clear of potential fraud, and look out for your privacy too.
2 – Protect your phones and tablets too!
Aside from using it for calls and texting, we use our smartphones for plenty of things. We’re sending money with payment apps. We’re doing our banking. And we’re using them as a “universal remote control” to do things like set the alarm, turn our lights on and off, and even see who’s at the front door. Whether you’re an Android owner or iOS owner, get security software installed on your smartphones and tablets so you can protect all the things they access and control.
3 – Create new passwords
Get a fresh start with strong, unique passwords for all your accounts using a strong method of password creation. And keep those passwords safe—don’t store them in an unprotected file on your computer, which can be subject to a hack or data loss. Better yet, instead of keeping them on a notebook or on sticky notes, consider using a password manager. It can actually create strong passwords for you, store them as you create them, and automatically use them as you surf, shop, and bank.
4 – Keep updated
Make sure you have the latest software updates for your computers, laptops, phones, tablets, and apps, and internet of things (IoT) devices like camera and alarm systems. Updates are important for two reasons: one, they’ll make sure you’re getting the latest functionality from your app or device; and two, they often contain security upgrades. If there’s a setting that lets you receive automatic updates, enable it so that you always have the latest.
5 – Beware of what you share
Hackers love playing the role of imposters to get a hold of sensitive info and account logins—because it’s often so effective. If you get what appears to be a suspicious request from a recruiter, co-worker, vendor, friend, or family member, verify the message with that person directly before opening or responding. Remember that an employer will never request sensitive information such as social security numbers or bank routing numbers over email or text.
6 – Watch out for phony web addresses
When searching, give the results a good look before clicking. Ask yourself if the website you want to click is legitimate—are there any red flags, like a strange URL, an unfamiliar name, a familiar brand name with an unusual addition to it, or a description that simply doesn’t feel right when you read it. If so, don’t click. They could be malware sites. Better yet, use a built-in browser advisor that helps you search and surf safely. It’ll call out any known or suspected bad links clearly before you click.
7 – Make your meetings password protected
To ensure that only invited attendees can access your video or audio conference call, make sure your meeting is password protected. For maximum safety, activate passwords for new meetings, instant meetings, personal meetings, and people joining by phone. To keep users (either welcome or unwelcome) from taking control of your screen while you’re video conferencing, select the option to block everyone except the host (you) from screen sharing.
8 – Watch out for phishing scams
If you receive an email asking to confirm your login credentials or that’s asking for any personal info, go directly to the company’s website or app—even if the email looks legitimate. Phishing attacks are getting more and more sophisticated, meaning that hackers are getting pretty good at making phishing emails look real. Don’t open any attachments or click any links in these emails. Instead, check the status of your account at the site or in your app to determine the legitimacy of the request.
9 – Use two-factor authentication
Our banks, many of the online shopping sites we use, and numerous other accounts use two-factor authentication to make sure that we’re logging in we really are who we say we are. In short, a username and password combo is an example of one-factor authentication. The second factor in the mix is something you, and only you, own, like your mobile phone. Thus when you log in and get a prompt to enter a security code that’s sent to your mobile phone, you’re taking advantage of two-factor authentication. If your IoT device supports two-factor authentication as part of the login procedure, put it to use and get that extra layer of security.
10 – Use a VPN
Another line of defense you can use to hamper hackers is a virtual private network (VPN), which allows you to send and receive data while encrypting your information so others can’t read it. When your data traffic is scrambled that way, it’s shielded from prying eyes, which helps protect your network and the devices you have connected to it. If you’re working from home, check with your employer to see if they have a corporate VPN that you can use.
Stay even more secure with these free resources
Find out plenty more about working and schooling from home, health and well-being, in addition to articles on healthcare and dating online too. Drop by McAfee’s Safer Together site for a wealth of free articles and resources.