October is synonymous with fall, Halloween, and more recently Breast Cancer Awareness, but what many don’t know is that October is fast becoming Cybersecurity Month.
With the internet becoming more prevalent worldwide in the last decade, it’s important for everyone to be secure when accessing the internet. There are many different ways your computer may be targeted. From using a credit card to purchase things from your favorite store online, to accessing the internet at the airport, there is potential for your computer to be targeted.
Most computers hold copies of important and private documents. Personal documents such as bank statements, birth certificates, and even something as innocent as your daily calendar can be useful to a person with malicious intent.
But don’t fret! There are some very simple, inexpensive ways to protect yourself against a cyber-break-in.
- Use a prepaid debit card for online transactions
- If there were a security breach and the prepaid card number was stolen, there would (ideally) be nothing left for them to take. If it were your personal debit card number, they would gain access to your entire account.
- Invest in malware protection for your personal computer
- In many cases, your local computer store or shop will have great recommendations for which malware protection software to buy based on your type of computer and what you use it for.
- If you keep a calendar on your computer, keep it somewhat vague
- Do this in whatever way works best for you. If you keep a calendar for meetings, try imputing either the first or last name of the person you’re meeting instead of both. Keep locations out of the description. If this isn’t possible, try investing in a password protected calendar.
- Set a lock screen on your cell phone
- Your phone holds lots of personal information, from text messages and emails, to the personal contacts of family and friends. Most lock screens employ a four digit passcode. This will deter someone from breaking into your phone and accessing your personal info.
- Once you’re done with a site, log out
- This will lessen the time window for someone or something to access your page. Even something as innocent as social media contains sensitive information. The security questions for lots of sites ask for your mother’s maiden name, first pet etc. Many times, this information is readily available to someone looking at your social media profile.
- Never accept a free USB or device charger (cell phone, laptop, tablet etc.) from a stranger
- This could be an attempt to gain access into your devices and corrupt your files.
For more information on this topic on protecting yourself visit www.dhs.gov/cybersecurity or www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/computer_protect.