Every year, millions of consumers fall victim to cybercrime. According to the 2018 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report, 152 million U.S. consumers were victims of cybercrime – more than half of the country’s adult online population – with losses totaling over $11.5 billion. Follow these tips to help keep your information safe online:
1. Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
2. Establish strong passwords. A strong password is at least 8 to 12 characters and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Avoid using passwords based on personal or easily accessible information (such as names, birthdays and common phrases like “1234” or “Password”) and never share passwords with coworkers, family or friends. Use different passwords for each account and change them regularly.
3. Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. Also, look for common red flags such as misspellings, grammatical errors, requests marked as “Urgent!” or “sensitive”, and/or emails from personal email addresses rather than a business email account.
4. Recognize and avoid bogus website links. Cybercriminals embed malicious links to download malware onto devices and/or route users to bogus websites. Hover over suspicious links to view the actual URL that you are being routed to. Fraudulent links are often disguised by simple changes in the URL. For example: www.ABC-Bank.com vs. ABC_Bank.com.
5. Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
6. Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
7. Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.