It’s no secret that technology has become a major part of our society today. Just about anything can grant you access to the internet – our phones, tablets, watches, and any other device no matter where you are. Even things and places we tend to overlook are connected to Wi-Fi. Our homes are riddled with smart devices that are connected to the internet.
The easy access we have has led most of us to spend more time online – consciously or not. It’s there, so we might as well use it. But when with all the time we spend online, we don’t typically think of the risks we’re taking with our personal and private information.
Just as the number of internet users has increased, so has the number of cybersecurity threats. There are hackers and cyber-attacks and phishing schemes lurking in the deep corners we can’t see, which makes it harder to know when or if the threat is there at all. Because of this, companies and individuals alike must do what they can to protect themselves.
Without taking preventative steps, it’s easy for your information to fall into the wrong hands. And while it may seem like an uphill battle, there are several quick and easy things you can do to protect your accounts and be on the lookout for.
As we recognize Cybersecurity Awareness Month this year, here are some of our top recommendations to reduce your risk online:
- Security questions
- Turn on authentication/verify your accounts
- Secure browsers and internet
- Phishing scams
Your passwords are your first line of defense against anyone (hackers or not) getting into your accounts. The temptation is always there to just use the same password for everything (or a variation with maybe the numbers or symbols changed). But doing this can take one compromised account and turn it into a massive headache for all your accounts. So, make sure your passwords are unique and don’t contain easily found personal information – your birthday, names or information about pets, children or spouses, etc. Doing this can make it harder to remember all your passwords, so use a secure password keeper to keep everything sorted.
Most sites have you answer security questions when setting up your accounts to help you get back in if you get locked out. But think through the questions you use and how they relate to what you post. If you’re talking about your first car or reminiscing about your kindergarten teacher a lot, avoid using those as your security questions so random people don’t know the answers just by looking through your profile.
Turn On Authentication/Verify Your Accounts
While not all sites and platforms have two-factor authentication, most of them have some sort of verification process. Whether it’s having a backup contact method, recovery codes, or anything else, doing whatever the site gives you the ability to do can protect your account and help you get back in quickly if it’s ever compromised.
Secure Browsers & Internet
It’s always tempting to immediately log on to the free Wi-Fi at any store, restaurant or place you’re visiting to avoid using the extra data on your phone. But while these are great, they also pose a pretty significant risk. Because they’re unprotected, that makes it easier for people to track your online activity, including the passwords you put in and the information you’re looking up. If you use an unsecure browser or network, make sure you’re not putting in any personal information and log out of any accounts you sign into before closing out of the browser.
Hackers are getting smarter and finding new ways to trick us into scams all the time. One of the main ways they do this are through phishing scams. Links that seem legit in your email, messages from your “friends” on social media, all of these can be scams to get your info and into your devices. If you see anything out of the ordinary, always check the source. Before you click a link in an email, double check that the sender is actually from the right source. If the email address it came from is a string of random numbers and letters, it’s likely a scam. If a Facebook message with out of the ordinary text comes from someone you’re close with, reach out to them and see if they’re the one that sent it before you click on anything or respond. Double checking may be unnecessary, but it can help save you from headaches in the long run.
How We Can Help
If you’re running a small business, your personal information is also your brand’s information, and that needs just as much protection as you do. We can help make sure that your brand’s website and platforms are secure, not just for you, but also for your customers. We want you (and the people you work with) to stay safe online, and we’ll do whatever we can to make sure it happens. Our IT and web management services will make sure things are running smoothly, there are no bugs, and your site health stays strong. If you’re ready to keep yourself and your brand secure online, give us a call today!