Planning matters

It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month

The pandemic has made many of us especially grateful for the internet, which makes it possible to work from home, shop online, attend religious services virtually, and stay connected with family and friends. Unfortunately, enjoying all those conveniences is not without risks. Realizing Americans are distracted by the pandemic, the upcoming election, and social unrest, cyber criminals are upping their game. Here are a few ways we can protect ourselves from hacks, scams, and malware.

Look twice before you click. Crooks and spammers will try to get you to act quickly and automatically. Instead, pause to consider before opening any unexpected email attachment. And most importantly, NEVER click on a link in an email asking you to enter your password or change your password. Always go directly to the site you use to enter your password or call the company directly if there appears to be an actual problem.

Use strong passwords. Strong passwords are fairly long and use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Using the first letters of an original phrase can make a password difficult for thieves to guess. Don’t keep a list of passwords anywhere near your device. If you keep a list, don’t spell out your phrase or word. Instead, record a hint, followed by the numbers and symbols in the password, ideally unique to each site. Another option is to consider purchasing a password managing system.

Add a second step. For sensitive sites, such as financial accounts, add two-factor authentication. After signing in, the institution will either text, call, or email you a one-time code to your registered device.

Stay current. Google your name and delete old, unused accounts that come up. Clear your browser history periodically. Delete apps you no longer use. Use the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. Regularly check for updates, or better yet, sign up for automatic updates when it’s offered. Back up your data to your preferred storage solution.

Stay independent. When signing up for a new service or app, pass up the offer to sign in using your Facebook or Google account, which exposes the data in your accounts.

Now it’s more important to stay vigilant about securing your financial and personal information. Hope these tips helped to make it a bit easier for you to start doing today!

Written By Johnson Bixby