Protect Your Online Security

While the internet and mobile devices offer unprecedented access to things like banking, shopping, entertainment, and information, especially on the go, they also create opportunities for scammers and thieves. Learn how to protect your online security both at home and on the road.

Stay Secure

Protect your passwords. Use passwords that are at least 12 characters long and try to use a mix of letters, numbers, and characters. Don’t use the same password for many accounts, and never share passwords by text or in email. If you have a hard time remembering all of your passwords, you can use a password manager. PC Magazine recently published a list comparing the best password managers of 2017, which range in price from $12.00 to $40.00.

Keep your software up to date. Instead of ignoring update notifications, or putting them off indefinitely, go ahead and update. Often, software updates address security issues and provide patches that keep your devices secure.

If you’re connecting to the internet via public WiFi, consider using a VPN (a virtual private network). This basically allows you a more secure connection to the location you’re visiting and prevents other public WiFi users from monitoring your activity. Articles  from Comparitech and PCMag tell you more about what a VPN is and offer a comparison among different VPN services.

Only download software and apps from trusted sources. For most people, this means that mobile device downloads will should come from either Apple’s AppStore or Android’s Google Play. For the PC and laptop, only download from verified sources and never from pop-up ads or email links.

For Mobile Devices

Use a screen lock. Yes, it takes a few extra seconds to put in your password or register a thumbprint, but using a screen lock is also the best first defense against unwanted access to all the information stored on your device. Here are instructions for setting a passcode/touch ID on your Apple or Android device.

Install an app that allows you to track and/or remotely erase data from your device if it’s stolen. Instructions for Apple devices and instructions for Android devices are available online.

Back up your data. If your phone or tablet is stolen or lost, your content, data, and settings can be restored to a new device. Again, you can find instructions for backing up Apple devices and backing up Android devices online.

If you use an Android device, install antivirus and anti-malware apps. Antivirus apps will protect your device from being infected by corrupted apps or malware that might compromise your system or expose your personal information to thieves or scammers. Android Authority has reviewed the 15 best antivirus and anti-malware apps, some of which are free.

For Computers and Laptops

Image of safe with online defivesIf you’re using the Windows operating system, install security software that updates automatically. If you’re not sure what to install, PC Magazine has an overview of the best free antivirus protection of 2017.

Never buy or install anything that appears in an unexpected pop-up ad or email. These are more likely to come from a scammer who wants to sell you useless software or gain access to your system.

Back up your files. External hard drives are relatively inexpensive, and if something does happen to compromise your system, you’ll still have access to all of your information. Cloudwards provides useful information for those looking to back up a MAC computer.

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