Cyber Security Tablet Fingerprint Identification

October is Cyber Security Month, and it's no secret that hacking and cyber security breaches are increasing each year. In fact, it is estimated that over 3 billion people will be affected by a data breach in 2021. That means more than half of the world's population could have their private information leaked online! In this post, we'll discuss 10 important Cyber Security tips that you should follow if you want to protect yourself from malicious hackers and keep your private information safe online.

Be wary of public Wi-Fi networks and use a VPN to protect your data

Person looking at VPN software on tablet

In the years ahead, it will be increasingly common for us to spend a lot more time online on public Wi-Fi networks. When you use public Wi-Fi services, your data is not secured, and cybercriminals can intercept it. They might then log into a website where they know your login details, and gain access to all of the personal information about you that has been kept on these sites. If you don't have a VPN for these connections, your data may be stolen and used by hackers to access confidential information or even monitor what you're doing online.

Always use an encrypted connection when feasible since this makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to identify any personal information about you. It also helps prevent identity theft if your login credentials from another website or app are stolen.

Avoid clicking on links in emails from unknown sources

Person looking at email links

Don't ever open emails from persons you don't know. If the email appears to be suspicious, do not click on any links within it. Instead of clicking the link, go directly to the source website and either search there or contact them directly. This protects you against phishing scams and malware infections because hackers seek access to your computer system without your permission or knowledge, and may use deceptive techniques to trick you into opening fake emails that may infect your machine with viruses or other malicious programs.

Unless you know where the downloaded files originated and what sort of file they are supposed to be used for, it is generally not advised to download things in general. Viruses may be easily inserted into attachments by hackers, making it easier for them to gain access when downloaded unsuspectingly onto a person's computer system without their consent or awareness.

Create strong passwords for every account you have, including email, social media accounts, bank accounts, etc.

Virtual blue lock touchscreen

It's critical to establish the most effective passwords for all of your accounts. Make sure you're not employing simple words that hackers or strangers can guess, such as your name or birthday. Avoid making common password blunders such as writing passwords down and sharing them with others.

It is strongly suggested you use a 12-character or more password, rather than just a single term. For example, take a phrase you're familiar with and convert it to all possible types of letters to increase the difficulty. To ensure this works, use both upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Passwords should be changed no less frequently than every 90 days, which may be difficult when life gets in the way. Don’t worry, there are other options available regarding password creation in the next section!

Use a reputable password management application such as LastPass or 1Password

Matrix style code falling with virtual padlocks falling

If you are having difficulty trying to figure out what you need to do to come up with passwords, you can use password management software such as LastPass or 1Password. These services help you create passwords and store them securely. The benefit of using these systems is that you only need to remember one password (the master password) and the other passwords will be generated for each account.

Cloud-based password managers can also sync your data across several devices and gadgets, making it simpler for individuals who use their accounts on various devices throughout the day. LastPass and 1Password are both excellent at giving this sort of access. The benefits of using password manager software include the ability to generate strong, lengthy passwords that are difficult for hackers to crack while also serving as a secure repository for all your login credentials. You'll never have to worry about losing another password again!

While it may take some time at first to get comfortable with these systems, once they become a habit, you won't feel like there's any weight or hassle associated with using them. These security precautions may even help you be more efficient rather than wasting your time trying to recall numerous passwords.

Check your credit report annually for signs of fraud or identity theft 

Credit Report showing on paper

Checking your credit report on a yearly basis for indications of fraud or identity theft is an excellent method to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion provide free annual credit reports. To keep track of all your financial concerns, you might want to consider subscribing to automatic notifications from your bank so you are aware when money enters and leaves your account, as well as when it occurred. If there are any illicit transactions taking place, you will be able to stay on top of it this way.

If you have been a victim of fraud or identity theft, the government has a variety of agencies that can assist you. If you were a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is one place to go to get help restoring your reputation. They will collaborate with law enforcement, creditors, and credit reporting services to assist you in resolving issues related to identity theft. The FTC also offers suggestions on how to avoid becoming an Identity Theft victim in the future.

If you are an Identity Theft victim, review this resource here: www.identitytheft.gov

Use two-factor authentication when possible 

Young woman looking at phone and computer

Two-factor authentication is extremely important for protecting your online information. If someone has your password, it will be much easier for them to access any account that you have passwords saved on. Imagine what would happen if they had your phone too! It would be very easy for them to get into both accounts and do whatever they want with your private information.

Two-factor authentication is one way to ensure that all your accounts are safe. This means you can log in to your account by having a text message sent to your phone or a code that changes every time you sign in. This makes it harder for a hacker or anybody else who has obtained your information to access the account without knowing the authentication passcode.

The only downside to two-factor authentication is that it can slow down convenience. You have to wait for a text message on your phone to arrive with a code, and if you have a large number of accounts, this can be quite a chore. Other than that, using two-factor authentication is universally recognized as a safe and secure way to prevent unauthorized access to your accounts and personal information.

Stop using old software with known vulnerabilities

Woman typing on computer

If you are still using old software with known vulnerabilities, be careful! This may compromise your computer, which can give hackers access to all your private information. It is imperative to make sure that all the programs you use on your computer have regular security and data updates.

The most recent version of an operating system is also a good idea for this reason. If there is a vulnerability in the operating system you are currently using, it is very likely there will be patches made available to protect against any potential invasion of privacy or damage to your device.

The best way to combat old software with known vulnerabilities is by upgrading to newer software and technology. This ensures that your devices are always up to date and protected against any potential dangers. Up-to-date, newer software usually comes with reliable and efficient security. However, make sure the software you are using is from a reputable company and brand. Never download software applications prior to knowing without a doubt it's safe to use.

Never share personal information online, like your address, telephone number, or Social Security Number

Zeros and Ones on the screen with the word Identity also on the screen

Never, under any circumstance, should you publicly share personal information online, such as your social security number, home address, or phone number. It is critical to make sure this information stays private for a variety of obvious reasons, but primarily because these are some of the pieces hackers use to steal your identity. It will be far easier for someone else to impersonate you and steal money from your bank account or open a credit card in your name if your social security number or address is discoverable on the internet.

Be careful about social media and giving away information about yourself freely on these platforms. Taking surveys and playing social "pass it along" games are often ploys to capture willing participants' data. Unless it is from an encrypted and reliable source with a specific purpose, don't give your information.

The ramifications are damaging, and if your personal data is discovered on the internet, someone might be able to steal your identity and impersonate you. As stated earlier, they could potentially empty your bank accounts, apply for credit cards in your name, and do other things that can harm your credit score and cause a lot of personal and financial difficulties for you.

Don't use public computers to log into any of your accounts

Couple using computer in the comfort of their home

Public computers are not the safest way to log into your personal accounts because they can be accessed by others who may want to do harm. That means information like your password, billing information, and other personal data may be at risk because you haven't taken the necessary precautions to protect it. The easiest and most common way for someone to get access to your personal information is if you forget to log off your accounts on the public computer.

If you're using public computers, either use a private browser such as Incognito mode on Chrome, or delete your cookies before logging off so that no one else can access the account after you've logged out. Using Incognito mode will automatically clear all data and cookies as soon as you close the browser; just make sure you close the browser and log off!

Keep your computer up to date with the latest security patches and antivirus software

Person updating their computers

Keeping your computer up to date is critical for security. It is incredibly important to make sure you update your devices as soon as possible and install any security patches and antivirus software updates as they become available. This includes updates for email applications, browsers, and other such programs that may be on your PC, Mac, Tablet, or Smartphone.

When an update is ready, you should get a notification from the device or software company about it. Make sure you always read the updates and follow their instructions to install them as soon as possible, as doing so will keep your device safe from any vulnerabilities that may have been discovered since the last update.

In Conclusion

virtual padlock over computer components

You can use these cyber security tips to stay safe and protect your data. These are all basic steps that you should be taking on a regular basis, but it’s important not to get complacent with the knowledge that we live in an age where people will go out of their way to trick or steal from you online. If anything feels off about any accounts you have - change passwords for everything! And finally, if something seems fishy? Don't do it!

So in honor of Cyber Security Month and from all of us at Rivermark Community Credit Union, stay safe and secure!