How to Protect Your Data Privacy

by Paul Konrardy

Cybersecurity is something that everyone needs to be aware of 365 days a year. According to CSO’s Top cybersecurity facts, figures and statistics for 2018, 92% of malware is delivered by email, and fileless attacks, meaning the attacks exploited software already installed on the computer rather than attempting to download large executables, increased 256%.

With that in mind, Stay Safe Online website, sponsored by National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), offers tips to help prevent cyber thieves from accessing your computer and ultimately, your financial health. Before we start – here are some terms to know:

  1. Malicious Email
    • What it is
      A malicious email appears to be from a legitimate source (your financial institution, an e-commerce site or a government agency). It may tell you there’s a problem with your account or have some other urgent message, and tells you to click the link in the email to resolve the problem.
    • What to do
      Contact the company directly, but use the telephone number on the back of your credit card, on the company’s official website (find it by searching online) or on an account statement. NEVER use the links provided in the email.
  2. Phishing
    • What it is
      Phishing attacks can come via an email or by you visiting a website or social media site that either collects your information without your knowledge or infects your system with malware and viruses.
    • What to do
      Always check the URL of the site’s link before going there and NEVER reveal personal or financial information in an email or on a website unless you have verified that it is legitimate.

Viruses, malware, spyware and ransomware are other online dangers. Read more about them here.

Take Necessary Precautions

  1. Use strong passwords that are a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. And don’t use the same password or username for multiple sites.
  2. Use a password manager to make it easier and safer to keep track of your passwords. It stores your login information for all the websites you visit, encrypting the information with one master password— the only one you need to know. (For more about password managers, read How-To Geek’s Why You Should Use a Password Manager, and How to Get Started.)
  3. Add additional authentication tools, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device, known as two-factor (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  4. Keep your software up to date with all patches and updates, and install quality anti-virus/anti-spam software on all internet-connected devices – including PCs, smartphones and tablets.
  5. Always scan USBs and other external devices with security software before opening or downloading information from them, since they can be can be infected by viruses and malware, according to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ .
  6. Have critical information on your computer? Back it up, either to the cloud or to an external hard drive—just in case.
  7. Make sure everyone in your house knows and follows online safety practices. StaySafeOnline’s Tips for Parents cover the areas parents should discuss with their kids.
  8. Traveling? Don’t log in to public WiFi systems to check bank accounts or even emails.
  9. Banking or shopping online? Check the site’s URL. It should start with “https://” or “shttp://” indicating the site is taking special security.

For more, look at StaySafeOnline and STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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