As technology continues to take over modern day society, the importance of cyber security is ever increasing. It’s projected that by the year 2021, cyber attacks against the public will result in damages of $6 trillion every year, which is double the amount in 2015 – meaning hackers are stronger and busier than ever. It’s crucial now to ensure that your cyber security is up to date and the best it can be to prevent any attacks against your personal data. We’ve put together a simple guide to help you protect yourself from the threats lurking online.
Protect your passwords
One of the most important things when it comes to cyber security is keeping your passwords secure. Here’s a list of things you can do when creating a password to make it as strong and un-hackable as possible:
- Make your passwords 8-64 characters long
- Use at least one lowercase letter, one uppercase letter, one number, and four symbols
- Change your password only when you feel it’s time/you’re afraid someone else may know it – it’s recommended to change important passwords once or twice a year
- Use a memorable phrase or sentence
And a list of things you shouldn’t do:
- Use words like “password” as your password
- Use personal details like family member names or birthdates
- Store your list of passwords in an easily accessible location
- Use the same password for every site
Passwords are one of the main lines of defense to keeping your information private, so it’s crucial to put a little extra thought into making them unique.
Use an antivirus and firewall
Antivirus protection software is key to fighting malevolent attacks. Having a good antivirus (AV) is important, because this software is what protects you from malware (software intended to damage computers and their systems) and viruses trying to infiltrate your device. Do your research to determine what AV you think would be best for you (you only need one per device). We recommend the following AV software:
- McAfee – $59.99 & free trial available
- Norton – $49.99 & free trial available
- Webroot – $39.99 & free trial available
- Bitdefender – $59.99 & free antivirus available
- Kaspersky – $59.99 & free antivirus available
- Panda Security – $46.99 & free trial plus free antivirus available
- Windows Defender – Free trial or request a quote
- Trend Micro – $39.95 & free trial available
McAfee, Norton, Trend Micro and several other software companies offer protection for mobile devices like phones and tablets in addition to protecting your computer.
Another thing you need to be sure you have is a firewall. Most AV software offers a firewall in addition to antivirus protection, but you should investigate to be positive you have one. A firewall acts as a screen to determine what traffic can access your device. Your firewall will block malicious activity like hackers and viruses alongside your AV.
Safeguard personal information
There’s no such thing as being too safe when it comes to protecting sensitive personal information (like credit card or bank information and social security numbers). In addition to protection software and strong passwords, there are many more things you can do to go the extra mile with your cyber security:
- Keep all software and apps up to date
- This will keep hackers from being able to breach out of date software
- Be suspicious of websites, emails, phone calls, and flyers
- Do research on the source of anything you’re unfamiliar with
- If something seems wrong or off, don’t open or follow it
- Backup your information in multiple locations so you still have access to it if you do get hacked
- Don’t use public wifi
- Private networks are safer – use a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt your information if you need to be on a public network
- Don’t accept friend requests on social media from people you don’t know
- Monitor your bank statements and investigate or report any unusual activity
- Logout when you’re done on a website or device
Net Pay Advance’s personal Technology Director, Scott Hoopes, says “always be suspicious. Assume anyone asking for your personal information has malicious intent unless they can prove otherwise.”
Net Pay Advance also offers a Security Center for you to learn even more about protecting yourself online. While there’s no reason to assume hackers are constantly out to get you, there’s nothing wrong with acting like they are! Guard your personal information online like you would any other valuable item and you should find yourself out of harm’s way.